There’s something to be said for rooting for the favourite, and when it comes to wine, it’s a sentiment that’s never been truer – or tastier. The uncontested home of winemaking, Europe’s favourite wine regions stand scattered along a well-worn path cultivated by families for generations and adorned in Michelin star restaurants, impeccable scenery and award-winning tipples. The drops on offer at these top regions are sure to roll off your tongue without a second thought.
Tuscany requires little introduction; it is perhaps the most famous wine region on the planet. As romantically stunning as the pictures suggest with those eternal rolling hills, cypress-lined winding country roads and terracotta tiled roofs, the region produces some of the world’s greatest wines. Best known for its reds, using largely Sangiovese grapes, the most notable include Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Montepulciano, Vino Nobile and Bolgheri. But there are also striking whites to be found, from Montecarlo to Bianco di Pitigliano, as well as an extraordinary feast of Italian fare and exquisite antipastos.
The largest wine producing region in the world’s largest wine producing country, Bordeaux touts both quality and quantity. With over 280,000 acres of vines lining the district spanning a legendary variety of both red and white varietals, the most popular is Cabernet Sauvignon, but Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec are also favourites. With its wine-producing roots dating back to the eighth century, the region continues to rapidly grow to this day, and amongst the vines and beautiful landscapes stand historic heritage-listed buildings, medieval villages and seaside villages worth exploring.
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After France, Italy and Spain, Germany ranks fourth in the wine production stakes in Europe, with the nation’s most famous and oldest wine region being Mosel. With its steep vine-clad hills, unlike anywhere else in the world, and its cool climate, the area is perfect for enjoying wonderfully light and crisp Rieslings. Of the reds, Pinot Noir and Dornfelder are the primary picks. The capital of the wine region is the former Roman Empire city of Trier - Germany’s oldest city - so it goes without saying that UNESCO World Heritage sites and fascinating history lurk not far from the cellar doors.
Spain’s premiere wine producer, La Rioja is a region that packs a punch for its small size. With over 500 wineries producing and pouring a range of fabulous specialty drops, the region is internationally recognised for an impeccable level of quality. Adhering to a stringent classification system based on aging in oak barrels and bottles, it’s a great place to try fine wines down to the finest detail – particularly Crianza and Gran Reserva. Set in the foothills of the Iberian mountains, the first vineyards were planted here in Roman times and ancient winery sites still exist in the area. There are also walking trials, World Heritage sites and beautiful mountains nearby.
The only place to get the real deal when it comes to Port wine is just as the name suggests: Porto, and the Douro Valley. An area rich in fortified wines, both red and white, this is the home of one of the world’s longest-lived wines and here, you're free to enjoy it at any time of day just like the locals - not just for dessert. With the vineyards strewn across rugged mountainous terrain and the deep twists and turns of the River Douro, the journey to every vineyard stunning. Sleep in a castle, admire Heritage Sites and cruise the tributaries of the river to enjoy this magical wine region to the fullest.
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