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Between the mighty South American powers of Argentina and Brazil, you will find Uruguay, a country of only 3.5 million inhabitants where vintners have decided to compete on quality instead of price – often resulting in surprises for tasters across the world. Despite the proximity to other great wine countries Argentina, Chile and Brazil, Uruguay has a wine growing climate more similar to Bordeaux, France or in New Zealand – and when you look at the map you’ll see that much of the wine from Argentina and Chile comes from areas near the Andes mountains, far away from Uruguay.
The greatest concentration of vineyards in Uruguay is in the Montevideo area near the southern coast. A number of wineries in the region have come together and created the ‘Wine Roads’, where visitors can visit nice bodegas to try the local wines and sample Uruguayan food. For some excellent local Tannat wine, visit Bodegas Bouza where you can combine the tasting with a superb lunch, and then continue to Bodegas del Viento – but don’t forget checking if they will be open before you take the time to get there. Other lovely places to stop for some sampling are Juanicó Winery, Los Cerros de San Juan and Bodega Marichal.
This is the eighth part of 10 about amazing and beautiful wine regions to visit in South America, a series which has been previously summarized in GotSaga. For more wine places, go through the backlogs to read about wine places in France and Spain. After South America, we promise you the world, and a look at the amazing wine regions in New Zealand. Enjoy!
If you love sparkling wine, and perhaps enjoy a cooler climate, the Rio Negro wine region is probably a great destination for you. Just like in other Argentinean wine regions, many wineries have converted buildings into hotels and inns following the wine tourism boom, to let you experience the combination of great wine at the source with great living spaces. You can however also find Pinot Noir and Merlot wines in a European style in the windy and dry wine Rio Negro region – where the climate allows for more organic wine products and lets growers stay away from agrochemicals.
For a great wine experience and education, I would recommend visiting the Bodega Humberto Canale, which combines a century of wine producing knowledge with modern techniques; the Bodega Estepa with their wide variety of excellent wines, growing vines on both sides of the river in non-traditional picturesque vineyards
This is the fourth part of 10 about amazing and beautiful wine regions to visit in South America, a series which has been previously summarized in GotSaga. For more wine places, go through the backlogs to read about wine places in France and Spain. After South America, we promise you the world, and a look at the greatest wine destinations in New Zealand. Enjoy!
The Mendoza region is now one of the top tourist destinations in Argentina. This was the first wine region I heard of in the country, and still the one I hear mentioned most often. Mendoza also has by far the highest amount of wine production in the country with 80% being produced here, as well as the longest history of wine making. There are around 1500 wineries in the region, divided into the five sub-regions Lujan de Cuyo, Uco Valley, Maipú (sometimes referred to as ‘The Centre’), San Rafael in the south and Rivadavia in the east. Lujan de Cuyo is considered being the “home of Malbec”, and I would highly recommend going there for anyone who enjoys the Malbec wines – I know I enjoyed it! You would also find a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as some Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah being grown in the region
Besides being the main wine producing region of the country, Mendoza is also a haven for adventure travelers – with world class hiking, biking, fishing, rafting and skiing, all within two hours flight from Buenos Aires, or 50 minutes from Santiago, the capital of Chile. If you enjoy festivals, you might love the Mendoza wine festival in March
Just a few years ago, back in 2005, Colchagua Valley in Rapel was rated the best wine region in the world by Wine Enthusiast. It is not difficult to understand why when you consider the quality of their wines – often based on Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet and Carmenere grapes – and that the area is host to two of the most famous wineries in the country, Casa Lapostelle and Montes. Besides having the most famous wineries, the area also have the Chilean wines regularly rated highest among wine experts and magazine reviews.
For anyone travelling to Colchagua Valley, I would heartily recommend taking the Train of Wine (El Tren del Vino) for a complete wine experience. You would have a train full of love for wine, 14 vineyard visits and a couple of museums on the way – and it’s easily accessible with transfer from Santiago. If you want to travel without any guides or the help of the wine train, I would recommend that you at least try to visit Viña Caliterra, Viña las Niñas and Viña Lapostelle.
I would recommend a visit to Bodega Pirineos in Barbastro, the region capital of Somontano situated close to the mountains. Wines from the Somontano are often referred to as the “new world wines of southern Europe”, with their elegance and vibrating fruity aromas. This is a great region to visit if you’d like to combine your wine experience with hiking in the Pyrenées.
There are a number of wine growing regions in Levante on the east coast of Spain, where you will also find the third largest city of the country, Valencia. The Valencia region primarily creates sweet Merseguera and Moscatel desert wines, while you find grapes for white wines being grown at high altitude in Alicante and the reds dominate the Utiel-Requena region. Less famous table wines come from the Murcia area, dominated by Monastrell grapes – and even called the Monastrell Imperium by some.
The entire Levante region is a haven for the sun lover, the history buff and the Monastrell wine connoisseur. Start off a tour from Valencia, maybe with a drink at Enoteca – with 6000 wines from across the world they have something for everyone. If you rent a car, go north along the Júcar river to the Utiel-Requena region for what some believe is a future star of Spanish reds, or go south to Jumilla in Murcia, for some excellent light reds. If you want to combine your wine discovery adventure with sunny beach days, Alicante is probably one of the best places in Spain for you – ask any of the millions of European tourists visiting the beaches every year.
Starting off in the amazing city of Pamplona, you have a region producing fruity deeply colored wines in the Navarra wine region – a region with more than 2000 years of wine history started when the Romans were here. Stretching from the Pyrenees to Ebro River Valley in the north of Spain, you will find more than 13.000 hectares of vineyards in the area.
Start off a Navarra wine tour in the shadows of the Pyrenees mountains, in the regional capital Pamplona, possibly with the famous bull running event in July. Going through the region, you can discover a rich culture and history, combined with a diversity of climates including Atlantic, Mediterranean and continental European weather patterns. There are so many vineyards worth a visit in the region that it’s impossible to name them all, but make sure to at least visit Bodegas Artajona if you start from Pamplona, Castillo de Monjardin if you love Merlot and Bodegas Ochoa with at least 700 years of history in the same family.
As usual in Spain red wines usually contain Tempranillo grapes, but you will also find a lot of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – however often enough you can find Syrah, Pinot Noir and Mazuelo wines if you look around a bit. If you enjoy white wines more, you would usually find Chardonnay or Viura wines in the Navarra region – but there are a few others as well, including Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia. The rosé wines are still very present though, with 40% of total production and a long tradition in the area.
This is part 5 in a series about the French wine regions – most of which were featured in the GotSaga article named “10 Top Wine Destinations in France“, where we went through the most famous regions with a few tips on where to go and what to do in each region. Because of the response from that article, we dive a bit deeper here.
Sea, sun, art, museums, fruit, vegetables and wine is just a start to what you find in the Provence region. Being close to Nice and Marseille by the Mediterranean coast, there are many types of places to visit if you want a more varied trip. Of course, since I don’t want to bore you with writing about the French riviera, beautiful beaches and valleys, since this is all about the wine places.
Since the 1980′s, the region has seen a surge of people coming in from other countries and French regions, and among the wine growers you have a mix of Germans, English, Scottish, Belgians, Dutch, Swedes, Danes and Americans beside the native French – probably a more diverse environment than any other in the country, which actually led to vast improvements in the taste of wine made here. The immigrants also brought an environment friendly view to the local wine growing, which is also noticed in the quality and character of the wines made here. In Provence you will find a great deal of Rosé wine – with 80% of production and great popularity among the tourists of the Riviera. However, the reds are still the heroes of the region, with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cabernet Sauvignon being popular varietals.
One of the most beautiful landscapes to visit in Provence is Les Alpilles, where the white mountains are cut through by valleys and form an amazing contrast to the azure blue sky. The vineyards are surrounded by pine trees and wild herbal flora, suitable for an area warmer and more moist than other places in Provence – which in turn leads to the wines maturing faster than elsewhere. One of the first bio-dynamic vineyards was created here by Noël Michelin in 1968.
If you want to see a place deemed as one of the few in the world to be almost perfect for making wine, then you should go to Bandol, which was one of the first wine growing areas on the northern side of the Mediterranean, dating back to 600 BC.
This is part 4 in a series about the French wine regions – most of which were featured in the GotSaga article named “10 Top Wine Destinations in France“, where we went through the most famous regions with a few tips on where to go and what to do in each region. Because of the response from that article, we dive a bit deeper here.
The Alsace region is primarily famous for their white wine, which has many similarities with what you find across the border in Germany. Most wines are made from single grape varietal, and you will certainly find Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer grapes used widely in this usually dry and fruity white wines from Alsace, just like in Germany – and many say they are of higher quality than elsewhere using those varietals.
Visiting Alsace could easily make you feel like as if taking a step back in time, into a German landscape, a few hundred years ago, with the kind of old town house architecture you find all over Germany, quite a few Germanic village names and people being fluent in both languages. The similarities are not strange, considering the area use to be German, and still has a great trade across the border.
If you have an interest in historical sites, there are a few to visit, including the only Nazi concentration camp situated in France, a few ruins of medieval castles and Roman churches along the wine trail, which flows 170 kilometres along the Vosges mountains. You can also pay a visit to Colmar for some Riesling in the Old Town or Strasbourg for a refreshing glass outside the Notre Dame Cathedral.
For the wine lover, I would especially recommend a tour starting in Strasbourg, find a car to rent and don’t miss visits to Trimbach, Geuberschwir or Hunawihr – my personal favorites in the region. There are however hundreds of wine producers in this fairly small region, giving any visitor plenty to choose from.