5 Must Try Under the Radar Wine Regions

Georgia is one of the oldest if not the oldest wine producer in the world. Again like Jura it uses more traditional methods such as making the wine in clay pots in the ground.

Advertisements

If you have read my blog before it might be a tiny bit obvious that I have a thing for French wine. You know, just a tiny thing. In fact out for drinks this past Friday night with friends, i was splitting a bottle of wine with some at the table. ” what are we drinking?’ she asked. Before I could answer, my other friend piped up ‘You know its French.’ she was right it was and it was delicious. We all have our wines we love, our go to wines or wine regions, but I also find it is incredibly rewarding to go out of our comfort zone and try new wines, wines we aren’t sure if we’d like, from a country that makes us say ‘really they make wine?’ or simply something you haven’t tried before. Sure there is a chance you won’t like it but what if you love it? There are so many under the radar, under valued, undiscovered wines out there. Here are my top 5 picks for the must trys

  1. Vin de cuit- Provence. i know I know, we are still in France. But this sweet wine produced in Provence has grape must cooked over an open fire for 10 hours. It is traditionally served at Christmas with the 13 desserts. Here is the thing, sweet wine, especially in North America has had a bad reputation. Due in large part to the culture of the late 80s and early 90s that had heavy emphasis on wine coolers, bad and I do mean bad sweet sparking wines, sweet red wines that tasted like cough syrup mixed with sugar (double shudder) and the worst offender….white Zinfandel , a wine so ridiculously sweet and disgusting it almost ruined Zinfandel grapes and rose for me. Luckily for me I like roses (thanks to Provence and 2benton8tor) and Zinfandel now but i almost didn’t try them. Sweet wines are the same. Whether it is port, sherry, or the sweet sauternes of Bordeaux, sweet wines have an undeserved bad rap. Good sweet wines are meant to be drunk after a meal with dessert or cheese. Yes they are sweet often with flavours of honey, prunes, plums ect but they are nuanced, they can have high acid to offset the sweet and are flavourful complex wines to be enjoyed. Vin de Cuit is no different. Try it as soon as you can.
  2. Sparking Wines from England. What you are probably asking? and yes yes yes I say. England does a have a small wine industry. In fact in Kent, the chalky soils and cliffs share the same soil as the famed Champagne region.Albeit a distinctly different climate. England is starting to produce some very interesting sparking wines. Not overly expensive but they can be hard to find. But definitely worth it.
  3. Green Wine from Portugal. Before leaving this year to go to Portugal, I was hearing a lot about Green wine. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t do to much (read any ) research into what it actually is. I am even more embarrassed to admit I thought it was wine with a greenish tinge. Well it is not. Green Wine is in fact more commonly known as Vinho Verde is a DOC wine region f Northern Portugal. it is usually slightly sparking due to malolactic fermentation that happened accidentally in the bottle in early years of production, consumers liked it so it stayed although the effervescence is produced differently today. 157Not all Vinho Verde is slightly sparking, it can be still, white, red, or rose. I have tasted both still and sparking. Both were good but I prefer the sparking, paired with a bifana YUM!! It is an easy to drink wine, light in the glass and on the palate with slightly fruity notes, an excellent summer wine. Next time I will try the red Vinho Verde rumored to be dark and peppery.
  4. The Jura wine region. Yes another French wine region but with excellent reason. Jura borders both Burgundy and Switzerland. A fairy small wine producing region but one of the most interesting. Jura is at the forefront of ‘natural wine production. really meaning they have kept the tradtional methods. All Jura still wines should be decanted for at least 4 hours before consuming. These wines are complex. The red and and whites age for a considerable time in oak with controlled oxidation, giving the wine interesting and unexpected flavours as in the case of whites, strong almond flavour. But Jura has 3 wine stars:                                                                                                                               -Vin Jaune literally translating to yellow win. This wine ages in oak barrels under yeast with controlled oxidation for 6 years. It has interesting nutty flavours.           -Macvin du Jura a sweet fortified spicy wine ages 14 months in the barrel.               -Vin de paille or straw wine. grapes are dried on straw allowing the grapes to almost dry, once pressed the flavours are concentrated producing a unique sweet wine. Jura also happens to be incredibly beautiful so….

5. Georgia, the republic not the state. Though there are arguments over where grape vines and viticulture began (was it Croatia? Was it Georgia?) Georgia is one of the oldest if not the oldest wine producer in the world. Again like Jura it uses more traditional methods such as making the wine in clay pots in the ground. Georgian wine can be hard but worth it. The wines have a different mouth feel and flavor on the palate most likely due to the clay pots and grape varieties but they are easy to drink and even easier to enjoy. Georgia like Jura is stunningly beautiful so maybe a wine vacation is in order.

Honorable mentions should go to : Croatia also a wine originator and produces some very good wines, Bulgaria and Uruguay both producers of some very interesting wines. Also Romania Lebanon, China, and India are worth a try. Where do you get these wines? Well if in London, try Gordon’s wine bar, one of the best stocked wine bars , I have ever visited.  https://gordonswinebar.com/ Wine Quay in Porto Portugal is another option with excellent wine selection and knowledgeable servers. .http://www.winequaybar.com/ But do your  research on wine bars, wine stores and tastings. Most importantly don’t be afraid to ask.

 

 

 

 

5 Recommended Wine Tours in Europe

My love affair with wine started in Montreal but took hold in France.

My love affair with wine started in Montreal but took hold in France. Wine is one of favourite reasons to travel. i first started trying to expand my wine knowledge, I started pretty simply, asking for recommendations in restaurants or hotel staff. I was a bit afraid of tours, I thought i would need to know more than Idid and didn’t want to look stupid. I shouldn’t have been afraid, that is exactly what these tours are for, to introduce you to wines, understand how they are made and what you are tasting and finally give you an appreciation and a love for the wine and the art of wine making. I have had some amazing wines by getting a map from a local tourist office and driving to different vineyards for tastings, but that is for another blog. On formal wine tours, I have had an amazing time, met some fantastic new people and tried some of the most incredible wines. Here are my top 5 recommendations of wine tours.

5. Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet, Côte de Beaune, Burgundy. We booked a lunch at Olivier Leflaive based on an article from  of Food and Wine magazine http://www.foodandwine.com/. The lunch came with wine pairings.  Olivier Leflaive is famous for its white wines,Predominantly a red wine drinker,  I was never the less excited as Burgundy is onolivier-2e of France’s more storied, celebrated and revered wine regions and I was about to find out why. Upon booking we were asked if we wanted to include a vineyard tour. Of course we did. And on the vineyard tour which preceded the lunch, we learned all about the vines, the micro climate that contributed to the flavour of the grapes (predominately chardonnay and pinot noir), the impact of the soil, sun and wind on the grape and how trimming the vines impacts the wine. We then took a tour of the winery itself followed by a delicious lunch. The lunch was four courses paired with the vineyards best wines including premier and grand crus. Not to be missed.https://www.olivier-leflaive.com/en/

4. Staying in Pisa and Florence seemed a perfect jumping off point to taste Tuscan wines, in particular the Chianti wines. Knowing very little about Italian wines, I was eager to taste and try. Our wine tour was just a bit too large. Side note, smaller tours are often better and have more times for both questions and commentary. That said, We got to enjoy the beautiful Tuscan countryside, visit a Chateau for tasting with food pairings and enjoy meeting other people on our tour. Our tour guide at the Chateau knew her stuff, explained about the vines and spent a fair bit of time matching the wine tasting to the food and it it really did make quite the difference. All in all, fairly enjoyable but not the most interesting of wines on this tour.

3. Wine Tasting in the Chateauneuf du pape.Avignon is the most logical place to start wine tours for Chateauneuf du pape. Easily one of my favourite wine regions, This Southern Rhone Wine region produces some of the biggest, boldest, most interesting French wines. I didn’t know just how much I ‘d come to adore Chateauneuf du pape wines when I first set out on the tour. Since then, I actively seek them out and the wines areimg_4811 among my favourite wines in the world! Our tour guide paired the wine tastings in the vineyards with a trip to the Roman Theatre in Orange so truly get an understanding of our surroundings. The theatre which is still in use is exceptional but the wines…. were out of this world. There was a wide variety of tastes from the light bodied summer wines to the full bodied flavour packed reds. A definite must for any wine lover.

2. Veuve Clicquot is one of the oldest Champagne houses in Reims, the capital of the Champagne region.europe-june-2010-453 It is also my favourite. The first champagne house to be run by a woman, Madame Clicquot back in 1805, she also invented the riddling process which allows us to enjoy champagne today. And oh how I enjoyed it!!! The Champagne all had remarkably different flavours and we came away with a new respect for Champagne house traditions. https://www.veuveclicquot.com/en-ca

1. For me the creme de la creme of wine tours was http://www.chemins-de-bourgogone.com. Leaving from the Beaune tourist office, thisbeaune-3 small tour takes you through the vineyards of Burgundy. Traveling through villages and vineyards that I had only heard of on a wine label, we one again we immersed in the process of making the wine and the art form and celebration associated with it. I learned to have a new respect for the vines, the workers, the wine maker and most of ll the wine. Stopping in a vineyard which has been in wine production since the time of Charlemagne, we tasted an eau de vie from the grapes of the vineyards were were sitting in. We finished off the tour at a winery for some tastings and I would easily book again and again.

If you j20160825_122632ust want to start exploring wines from different countries and regions there is no better place than Gordons wine bar 47 Villiers St London. Just down the street from Charing Cross towards the Thames, Gordons wine bar is a hidden gem. Marketed as London’s oldest wine bar, the interior is era appropriate, even with its own wine cave  Featuring wines from around the world, even India and Lebanon, Gordons is a must go to try wines and have fun. The server will help you select and you’ll have a great time. http://gordonswinebar.com/

Wine is something many people love but can be a divisive topic. We all have opinions I have often heard and also said  ‘i don’t like white wine’ or ‘I don’t like merlot’ but maybe just maybe after a wine tour you find out you actually do. It is always worth  try to expand your tastes and try something you just might love ( I am looking at you Chateauneuf du pape).