Fine wine is one of life’s greatest pleasures, up there with decent moral standing, comfortable shoes and a good afternoon tea. While wine from around the world is seldom more than a supermarket stroll or online order away, it never tastes better than when it’s enjoyed within its country of origin. As the colder weather draws in, we’re inspired to seek out the world’s finest wines and the places they call home.
The foothills of Tuscany
Some would say Tuscany is the beating heart of Italy, its lush landscapes giving plenty of opportunities for local wineries to excel at their centuries-honed craft. Chianti was first created here and continues its sublime legacy to this day, although there’s plenty more in Tuscany to admire for wine lovers.
Tuscan wineries have proven pretty generous with their wine tours over the years. However, we have a particular soft spot for Salcheto, Europe’s first environmentally self-sustaining winery. While their Rosso and Chianti are particularly full and flavoursome, the namesake Salco is a rich, dark, earthy-yet-tart affair that’s sure to please the palate.
The romance of France
Bordeaux and Burgundy are the major names in French winemaking, although in earnest the whole country rightfully leans on its proud and distinguished viticulture heritage. Rolling green fields peppered by windmills ensure that the scenery here is as much a feast for the senses as the wine is for your taste buds.
While Dijon is the hub from which many French wine tours are undertaken, increasing numbers of wine aficionados are actually taking the leisurely route via cruise. A key component to touring the region by land or sea is to remember that it’s very much a case of who you know – a French-speaking guide is your best bet for getting into the most secretive cellars.
The secrets of Santorini
Steer yourself beyond mainland Europe to the photogenic Greek island of Santorini. Although it’s a winning holiday retreat in its own right, it’s also got a thriving wine community and features some flavours simply too good to ignore. When you consider that the oldest vineyard in Europe is often said to be in Santorini, it makes a lot of sense.
Delicious and crisp Assyrtiko white wine has become a signature flavour of the island, said to evoke the sea breezes that surround this jewel of the Aegean. Local wine tours throw the doors open to the locals’ secrets with refreshing candidness, as well as giving you the chance to get immersed in the local pottery and cuisine.
Bottoms up Down Under
Australia may have distinguished itself as a superb destination for wine fans the world over, yet in many respects the best is yet to come. The choicest flavours are found in the regions surrounding Adelaide, such as Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Wine around here evokes a certain coolness that perhaps only the Aussie outlook could, especially in Barossa Valley where the foodie scene has truly hit its stride.
In the Willunga hills in McLaren Vale, work has begun on the majestic d’Arenberg Cube visitors’ centre, a huge structure shaped like a Rubik’s Cube in the process of being turned and solved. It’s bringing wine tourism screaming into the 21st Century, promising views and visitors’ perks like food and drink galore when it’s completed. If you’re keen to see when this architectural marvel will be ready, you can watch it being constructed via a time-lapse camera.
From organised vineyard tours to days spent meandering around local restaurants, there are countless options for those looking to combine a love of travel with a love of wine.