Why it's unique: OK, OK. I know what you're thinking: "wine" and "France" are basically synonymous. What the hell is France doing on a list about undiscovered wine regions? Well, because while "the South of France" has been a go-to tourism destination since approximately the Bronze Age, the wines of Southern France have been all but ignored until recently. "It's been an amazing transformation of an area which, 30 years ago, was producing some really bad wines," wine consultant and native Frenchman Antoine Songy tells me. "I think the Languedoc-Roussillon area is way underestimated," he says of the region that snuggles the Spanish border. "I went to the VINISUD exhibition again this year, and was astounded by the number of high-quality wines in display. A lot are organic, many use sustainable agricultural practices."
What to seek out: Songy says that appellations and sub-appellations like La Clape and Terrasses du Larzac are well worth a pour. (See how a wine merchant reacts upon your order of "a case of La Clape.") And regions like Pic Saint-Loup and Limoux are another hot order. "This is where things are really happening. They have transformed the vineyards dramatically," Songy says. Limoux boasts a Rothschild property that is "worthy of a high-end Bordeaux property which could fool many when tasted blind." Another name worth keeping an eye on is Laurent Bonfils, who has 23 domaines, some of which are being transformed into swank hotels. "Laurent is an exceptional individual with a vision," Songy says. See you soon, Laurent.