Raise your glass: In search of the world’s best wines

In Food & Drink, Travel Inspiration by KerrynLeave a Comment

wine, it's always better straight from the vineyard

wine, it’s always better straight from the vineyard

For wine connoisseurs (although tasting great wines is always a pleasurable experience), nothing beats raising a glass of the good stuff in the region where the wine was produced.  From the sweet wines of Languedoc to the fortified wines of Barossa Valley, there are wines that speak to palates all over the world. I’ve scoured the globe for must-visit wine producing regions, so if you’re up for a road trip, pack your cork screw and glasses and head to one of these five fabulous wine destinations.

Languedoc, France

vineyard on Cap de Peyrefite, Languedoc-Roussillon

Vineyard on Cap de Peyrefite, Languedoc-Roussillon

In the sunny south of France is the wine-producing region of Languedoc-Roussillon. With a beautiful coastline of golden beaches and an interior of uninterrupted vine-covered vistas, it’s a beautiful part of the country and a great spot to visit if you’re a wine enthusiast. Discover the Languedoc vineyards in early summer; each year there are annual wine walks during which visitors can enjoy spectacular views over a glass of one of the top AOPs, like Minervois, Corbières and Coteaux du Languedoc. If you want to avoid the summer heat you may prefer visiting in May during the Sentiers Gourmands event. If you’re looking for variety the quaint Maison des vins du Languedoc in Latte has a wonderful selection of 150 wines (but don’t try them all, or you may have trouble getting home…!). For a delicious lunch paired with a selection of 50 wines, try the restaurant at Côté Mas in Montagnac.

While you’re there…

La Cité at Carcassonne Photo: Lies Thru a Lens

La Cité at Carcassonne Photo: Lies Thru a Lens

Go walking in the mountains and wooded valleys of Les Cévennes; visit the sprawling La Cité at Carcassonne; see the Roman ruins in Arles; wander around the fascinating Dali Museum in Figueres; or experience the peaceful tree-lined Canal du Midi by boat.

Barossa Valley, Australia

The Barossa Valley, Austria Photo: Graeme Churchard

The Barossa Valley, Australia Photo: Graeme Churchard

It may take a few flights and car trips to get there, but it’s worth travelling to the other side of the world if you’re in search of fabulously fruity wines that pair so perfectly with a good steak. Barossa Valley is an hour’s drive north of the South Australian state capital Adelaide, and boasts around 100 wineries. Sample the Grenache, Mataro (Mourvèdre) and Shiraz, and the fortified wine from Seppeltsfield Winery; see the open-top slate fermenters and large oak casks at Rockford; or try your hand at blending your own special wine on a tour of Penfolds Magill Estate. For a most delicious taste experience you should try doing the Butcher, Baker, Winemaker Trail self-driving tour of the region.

While you’re there…

Kaiserstuhl conservation park, kangaroo Photo: Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble

Kaiserstuhl conservation park, kangaroo Photo: Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble

Enjoy magnificent views of the entire valley from Menglers Hill Lookout; have a delicious Saturday morning breakfast at the Barossa Farmers’ Market near Angaston; or walk the trails and admire the kangaroos in Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park.

Ribera del Duero, Spain

Vineyard in Ribera del Duero

Vineyard in Ribera del Duero

If you don’t mind splashing out on good wine, then head to Ribera del Duero in the northern plateau of Spain, birthplace to one of the most notable and expensive wines, Vega Sicilia. Located in Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero is an oenophile’s dream. You can try delightful wines from vineyards like Pesquera and Pago de Carraovejas. If you plan ahead you may be able to get an invitation to a private tasting at Alonso del Yerro winery. While you’re in Ribera del Duero indulge your taste buds by trying out a Tempranillo (Tinto Fino) wine paired with lechazo asado (roast suckling lamb).

While you’re there…

Cathedral of Salamanca Photo: Steve Slater

Cathedral of Salamanca Photo: Steve Slater

Visit the medieval walled cities and the majestic cathedrals of Salamanca, León, Segovia, and Burgos; see the influence of the Romans at the Segovia Aqueduct; browse around the National Museum of Sculpture in Valladolid; visit the magnificent Royal Palace of San Ildefonso; or put your hiking boots on and take a walk through the pine forests around the Neila Lakes.

Umbria, Italy

 

Harvesting grapes at a vineyard in Umbria Photo: Martin Thomas

Harvesting grapes at a vineyard in Umbria Photo: Martin Thomas

Beautiful Umbria is the only landlocked region in central Italy, and is a great place to start if you’re looking for good Italian wines. Between the numerous medieval villages you’ll find rolling hills covered in olive groves and vineyards. You should start your visit in Montefalco, where you can enjoy guided cellar tours and wine tastings. One of the most popular wineries in Umbria is the Arnaldo Caprai estate, which also occasionally holds cooking classes. Other popular wine estates include Decugnano dei Barbi, Palazzone and Falesco. The most well-known wine of the region is Sagrantino di Montefalco, although some wineries do produce white wines like Orvieto, Grechetto and Trebbiano Spoletino.

While you’re there…

Duomo, Orvieto in Umbria Photo: Andy Hay

Duomo, Orvieto in Umbria Photo: Andy Hay

Spend time exploring Orvieto with its impressive Duomo and labyrinth of tunnels and caves under the city; visit the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi, see the man-made Marmore Waterfalls; or spend the day enjoying tranquil Trasimeno Lake.

Walla Walla, USA

One of the 120 vineyard's in Washington state

One of the 120 vineyards in Washington state

Walla Walla may not be as famous as Sanoma or Napa Valley, but it’s certainly a good place to visit when you’re in search of the world’s best wines. Located in the eastern part of Washington state, Walla Walla has more than 120 wineries and produces fabulous Syrah, as well as classic Bordeaux varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sample award-winning wines at L’Ecole N° 41 in Lowden, or raise a glass and enjoy spectacular views at Waterbrook estate. The Walla Walla Wine Alliance has a useful calendar of wine tasting events as well as a list of all the wineries and wines they produce for anybody visiting the region.

While you’re there…

take in some Americana at a rodeo Photo: dfbphotos

Take in some Americana at a rodeo Photo: dfbphotos

Enjoy a jazz concert at Power House Theatre; visit the Fort Walla Walla Museum; join in the fun at the County Fair and Rodeo in September; or learn about the history of Walla Walla at the Kirkman House Museum.

Written by Kerryn du Plessis, a travel writer for HomeAway.co.uk.

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KerrynRaise your glass: In search of the world’s best wines

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