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This is the third part of 10 about great 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!
If you love white wine and you’re looking for a good experience in Chile, this might be the top pick for you. If you start out from Chile, you can easily manage the Casablanca Valley in Aconcagua in a weekend, with many nice guesthouses and modern hotels in the region, and quite a few boutique wineries to discover, you could discover new flavours of white grapes that you didn’t even know existed.
Not until the 1980’s did the Chileans start growing vines in Casablanca Valley, but the crisp, fresh wines from this coastal cool climate wine region soon caught the wine experts attention. I would definitely recommend a visit to the William Cole vineyards, Kingston Family vineyards and Casas del Bosque – and perhaps treat yourself to a stay at Casablanca Wine & Spa.
I would recommend starting off in the regional capital Vigo with some sightseeing, and a visit to the Sal Negra Restaurante for local wine and seafood, before renting a car to go south for a visit to Rias Baixas. Visit Bodega Argro de Bazan for a modern winery, Pazo Senorans for the historical experience in a 14th century building and Bodegas As Laxas with an estate by River Miño. From there, you have the possibility of crossing the border for the stunning Peneda-Geres national park in northern Portugal.
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.
If you see a few battered windmills, you might think back to Don Quijote’s fictional adventures in the area, which is located on a plateau between Madrid and Andalusia. Having little rain and moderately hot summers, the area produces fully ripened grapes. For the reds, you will find Cencibel is the main grape, accompanied by Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnaca, Merlot and Moravia. White wines from La Mancha contain Airén, Macabeo and Pardilla according to regional standards.
Rioja is the first of ten Spanish wine regions we will pay a visit in this new series. Some of the tips were included in the text we sent to the great guys over at GotSaga, but we felt that each region deserved more space than we could give through just one post. If you enjoy the text, feel free to follow us on Twitter, Facebook or using RSS.
Rioja, probably the most famous Spanish wine region, doesn’t only produce great wines, but also has some excellent places to sit down and try those wines – or perhaps fly above in a hot air balloon. With seven rivers flowing through, mountains for skiing, hiking or climbing combined with great places for horse riding there’s something for everyone.
The main place to stay is the regional capital Logroño, which is a nice base for your wine tour to take off. The city has some great wine bars and taperias around the market and of course a lovely cathedral, being on the pilgrim route to Compostela. For someone who has never been to the region and enjoys letting others do the planning, I would recommend the La Rioja Alavesa wine tour. The tour takes you through the mountains, along the rivers and into a few charming medieval towns with relaxing wine tastings. If you however decide to go without a guide, it’s still an easy task to navigate through Rioja, and I would recommend visits to Bodegas Muga, Baron de Ley and Bodegas Riojanas as places with interesting character.
Looking at grape varietals, the region allows Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, Graciano and Mazuelo for the reds, while the whites show up with Viura, Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca. The Tempranillo is the most dominant, with a vast majority of vines, as in most of Spain. Look out for words such as Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva to see if and how long the wine has been aged in oak barrel – although longer doesn’t have to mean better.
While writing this post, I’m actually having a Crianza 2006 Viña Amate from Rioja with my girlfriend (from FashionStylizer), which I would certainly recommend. It’s full of Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes, giving complimenting aromas in the great 2006 year vintage – excellent both by itself and with a bloody steak.
This is the ninth part in a series about the French wine regions, where we go through some great wine regions with a few tips on where to go and what to do in each region. Next up is Corsica (on Thursday), then we move on to wine regions in Spain, and then we’ll have a look at South America. We will also show you some other of the greatest wine destinations in the world, so stay tuned by subscribing to the RSS feed or Like us on Facebook.
The South-West wine region (French: Sud-Ouest) is often overshadowed by the reputation of neighboring Bordeaux, which geographically could be seen as part of this ‘poor region’. The area between Bordeaux and Languedoc-Rossillion, historically having great amounts of export to England and Holland (later ruined by taxation) and much monastery wine growing, is now often seen as the origin of cheap wines in vast amounts by wine lovers – although wines from the region have been praised since Virgil and Horatius days.
The wines are often based on Merlot, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and both Cabernet varietals in combination with a number of less common local grapes. There’s a similar varietal blend compared to Bordeaux, which also shares the same basic climate near the Atlantic Ocean. If you enjoy Armagnac, you will be happy to know that the area of origin is situated in the South-West region – or perhaps a visit to Cognac, just north of Bordeaux and Bergerac, would be of more interest.
Although the region has a long history of wine growing since the Romans and Visigoth enjoyed the drink, parts of it were all but destroyed by the Saracens, the subsequent Viking raiders, and then the Muslims ordering the uprooting of all vines – which in the end made communities cancel all trade. The Bergerac area has still produced wine continuously since the 13th century, and had similar tax exemptions to Bordeaux for export to England – something the rest of the South-West wine region did not enjoy, and therefore suffered financially from. For an excellent bio-dynamic visit Domaine du Pech in the Bergerac area – although it might be difficult to find, the surrounding countryside and some great Cabernet Sauvignon will help you forget any extra travel time.
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.
Hundreds of years ago, royalty and nobility used to leave Paris for relaxing days in the Loire valley (French: Valleé de la Loire), and the region certainly still has the castles and areas to show for visitors to the region. Beside having a vast amount of historical sites, the region is only an hour drive from Paris, meaning it would be the easiest wine region to combine with a trip to the French capitol.
Starting from the Atlantic ocean in the west, continuing along the Loire river to divide France between north and south, the region has a multitude of castles and wine hills – with Nantes and Tours as nice city breaks along the journey. If you start in Tours, I would recommend continuing to Chateau de Villandry, with the beautiful gardens, and then to Chateau d’Usse, which gave inspiration to the the story of Sleeping Beauty. After a drive through the Loire Valley, I would recommend going back to Paris for a lovely natural, organic wine at trendy Racines or sit down at Alfred with a view of Palais Royal.
The Loire Valley wine region creates excellent white wines going perfectly with fish, and some believe that if it hadn’t been for the rise of Bordeaux a few decades ago, the Loire Valley wines would be seen as the brightest of French stars. However to Paris restaurants, bistros and brasseries, the Loire Valley wines are still always present on the wine list with Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc as the main grapes.