How to travel the world according to your taste in wine

Pop to Piedmont for dry whites and over to Otago for perfect pinots - our experts on the world

Laura Hampson - www.standard.co.uk

A glass of good, local wine can be the marking of a memorable holiday. The particular fusion of grapes, climate and wine-making processes all come together to anchor the memory of that particular destination for years to come.

“Like homemade hazelnut gelato enjoyed while walking around Florence on a sunny afternoon, or reading Death in Venice while overlooking the Grand Canal, most wines taste better when you drink them where they were made,” says Lucy Shaw, editor of The Drinks Business.

“It adds an authenticity to them, and somehow makes them taste more vivid and alive. While most wines can be enjoyed anywhere in the world, there are some that really shine in their homelands."

We’ve asked three wine experts where they have experienced their fondest wine memories, and where you should book a trip to for your next tipple.

If you like Rosé… go to Provence, France

“Provence rosé is best enjoyed ice-cold on a beach with the sand between your toes as you gaze into the glittering Med. There's something about the luminous light of the Côte d'Azur, which attracted everyone from Cezanne to F. Scott Fitzgerald, the sound of the cicadas and bursts of lavender that lends itself to enjoying ballet shoe pink rosé by the bucketload.

"Names to look out for include Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's Miraval, Château d'Esclans, which makes an oaked rosé that sells for £80; Domaines Ott, which makes elegant, melon-scented rosés, and Minuty, whose prestige rosé, 281, boasts a bottle designed by Hubert de Malherbes, best known for creating Dior’s J’adore perfume bottle.”

If you like dry whites… go to Piedmont, Italy

“I've always had a soft spot for Italian wines, particularly from the north, like red Barolo and Barbera and and white Soave and Arneis,” says Abbie Moulton, wine expert and Evening Standard drinks columnist.

“You'll find bags of diversity here from frothy, fizzy Moscato d'Asti to big, brooding Barolo, but one thing you'll find across the whole region is elegance, and that's what I really love. In the cooler months I love red Nebbiolo for its poise and grace, but in these warm summer months I can't get enough of Arneis - it's perfumed with juicy peach and apple and lovely acidity that lifts and adds freshness.

“The best place in the world to find it is Northern Italy's Piedmont region, in the sub region of Roero. This area is so famous for quality of this wine that the wine is named after the place - look for a 'Roero Arneis' and you're pretty much guaranteed to pick up a good bottle.

“The Piedmont region is a beautiful region to visit, bordering Switzerland and the alps to the north, and opening onto lush green vineyards in the centre of the region. You're in true quality wine country here, with all manner of wine styles to try.

“One of my favourite wineries to visit is Vietti as you can take a guided tour through the vineyards and taste old vintages in the cellar. You can buy the Vietti Roero Arneis on tannico.co.uk for just under £20.”

If you like Manzanilla… go to Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

Shaw also recommends a trip to the south of Spain to discover some delicious sherry.

“An unmissable wine and travel experience is enjoying a chilled glass of Manzanilla close to the ocean in San Lucar de Barrameda in Jerez,” Shaw says.  

“The Sherries made in San Lucar have a salty sea air tang, and pair magnificently well with a plate of pata negra jamón and a bowl of salted almonds - chef Ferran Adrià of the famed El Bulli once told me this was his ultimate food and wine match. Among the best manzanillas you'll find are La Gitana, Bodegas Hidalgo Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada, and Equipo Navazos La Bota de Manzanilla No. 55.”

If you like Pinot Noir… go to Otago, New Zealand or Burgundy, France

“Pinot is the most delicate of red wines. That means the nuances and subtleties are that much more interesting and precise. It also has such a fantastic, balanced zippy crispness when it’s made right, it can be really food friendly too,” says Richard Ellison, founder of Wanderlust Wine.

“Pinot Noir is notoriously difficult to grow and make. This is because it has tight grape bunches that make it susceptible to rot. So growing great grapes is difficult enough on its own.

“Good, cheap pinots sadly, don’t really exist. So the first way to measure it is price point. A great example of pinot noir should be light, balanced, long and with a crisp zip to it. A wine with no mouth-watering acidity is missing a key element.

“The wines that pinot noir can produce whilst known as the lightest red grape, are actually quite broad. Burgundy in France is hallowed (and priced) as the best the world has to offer with its perfectly cool climate and sloping cru hills. You can find entry level wines all the way to grand cru Corton, so you do have some options with how much you spend.

“Burgundy is split into appellations (AOCs) through small parcels located around villages. So base yourself in a beautiful, picturesque village such as Beaune or Gevrey-Chambertin and you can simply drive out to each village and do the usual cellar stop to see what that producer is like.

“I found that the big named wines you’ll know - Mersault, Montrachet, Corton will be great, but also reassuringly expensive. It’s the lesser known sister villages like Auxey Durress where you are getting similar (or sometimes better) wines for less money - finding the gems is a lot more exciting than going for something obvious. Two small producers that make exceptional Burgundy in tiny quantities are Mark Haisma and Jeremy Recchione - definitely worth hunting down.

“If France is too close to home and you love to travel, jump to New Zealand for a fascinating savoury New World version from Gibbston on the South Island. Alternatively Sonoma and Anderson Valley in California make exceptional pinot, too.”

If a trip to New Zealand is your cup of tea, Shaw recommends visiting the Otago region of the South Island to get your Pinot fix.

“Central Otago in New Zealand produces world-class examples of Pinot Noir with stunning scenery to boot,” Shaw explains.

“One of the mountain ranges there is so staggering it's called The Remarkables - the peaks jut up to the clouds like giant jagged teeth, while beneath them lies the Listerine-blue waters of Lake Wakatipu. Actor Sam Neill makes spectacular Pinot Noir laced with dark red fruit and savoury spicy notes in Central Otago at his farm, which is also home to a menagerie of animals, including a pig named Angelica. Other top Pinot Noir labels from Central Otago include Burn Cottage, Felton Road and Rippon.”

If you like Malbec… go to Mendoza, Argentina

“Among the world's finest food and wine pairings, especially for those of a carnivorous nature, are a juicy steak and a velvety Malbec," Shaw notes

“This divine union is only amplified if enjoyed while overlooking the snow-capped Andes Mountains in Malbec's heartland of Mendoza. Like Sherry and almonds, the beauty lies in its simplicity. The Argentines pride themselves on the quality of their beef, and the ritual of the 'asado' (barbecue) is almost a religion.

“One of the best places to enjoy a silky Malbec and an expertly cooked steak in Argentina is at meat maestro Francis Mallmann's Siete Fuegos in Tunuyán, where the meat is slow cooked outdoors over an open flame. Many producers offer vineyard visits and tours - among the best names to look out for are Catena Zapata, Clos de los Siete, Achaval Ferrer, Zuccardi and Salentein.”

Source: https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/best-wine-countries-a4194041.html