When planning your holiday this summer, making lists of places to go and see and names of restaurants to try, here are some suggestions of wines to look out for in some of the most popular summer destinations.
Northern Portugal is very popular with visitors from Spain but its wines are not that well know. Portugal has many grape varieties with some fascinating names such as the ‘Esgana Cao’, which means ‘dog strangler’, named so because it’s acidity is so high not even the dogs will touch it. Actually this is one of the grape used to make Vino Verde, in the north west of Portugal bordering with Galicia. The wines are crisp and dry whites and go very well with seafood.
Not far over the Pyrenees in south West France you will find Cahors, a region famous for it’s ‘black wine’ made from Malbec. These are full bodied wines that require some ageing to soften the tannins, as they tend to be more rustic in style it is best to drink them with food. Nowadays we associate Malbec with Argentina but it originally comes from Cahors.
The Loire Valley is one of the most northerly wines regions in France and anyone who has been on one of my wine courses will know that it is home of not only Sauvignon Blanc but also the lesser known Chenin Blanc. This grape produced wines known for their apple and tropical fruit flavours and a notable crisp acidity. Vouvray is a sub region of the Loire and here you can find wonderful wines made from Chenin Blanc, particularly the ‘semi sec’ style.
Sicily is becoming a popular destination with more direct flights available. The best known red grape variety is Nero d’Avola, known for its black cherry and blackberry fruit flavours with a hint of pepper and soft tannins. Very easy drinking style of wine to accompany all your favourite Italian dishes, particularly pizza.
I was speaking with a friend who is off to Vienna, a beautiful city full of elegant cafe’s where the Viennese enjoy a glass of Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s most famous white grape variety. Wines made from Grüner, pronounced ‘Groooner’ have citrus and white stone fruit flavours with a distinctive note of white pepper. A versatile wine that can partner seafood, rice dishes, grilled vegetables or served chilled on its own.
If you are off the Greece this summer be prepared to find wines lists full of weird and wonderful unpronounceable names such a Assyrtiko, Robala, Roditis, Moschofilero, all of which are whites, and Xynomavro, Limnio and Agiorgitiko, which are reds. My recommendation is the Moschofilero, an aromatic white wine full of citrus and floral flavours. Just so that you are aware, the most popular Greek wine for the tourists is Retsina, try it by all means but when you don’t like it, don’t assume that all Greek wines taste of ‘resin’.
Finally, if you find some new wines on your travels drop me a line and let me know.