When most people think “wines of Europe”, they think France or possibly Italy. Ask the average person on the street to name three famous wine regions and they’ll probably come up with Bordeaux, Champagne and Tuscany.
So if you’re new to the world of wine, you may not be aware of some of the European wine world’s better kept secrets. Allow us to introduce you to…
1. Douro Valley, Portugal
The world is searching for its next major wine region, and in Duoro Valley, it may have been found. This historic region is currently enjoying its biggest burst of popularity since English traders used Portuguese wine as an alternative to French wine in the 18th century – a fortunate falling out that led to the creation of port.
While port is the region’s most famous export, there are plenty of reds, whites and roses for visitors to enjoy, although the rose is a late addition. Why not cruise along the valley and see what the vineyards have to offer?
2. Istria, Croatia
On the coast of the Adriatic sea lies Istria, which was part of neighbouring Italy during the early 20th century. The Italian influence abounds, as the language can often be heard in the region’s town squares, and national grapes can be found on the hillsides, including terrano, moscato, and verduzzo.
Teran, as terrano is known locally, is one of several grapes currently being contested in EU courts due to name clashes and grapes of “protected designation of origin” (or PDO). But the only bureaucracy you should concern yourself with is booking a holiday villa somewhere on the Adriatic coast, and stock your self-catering accommodation with the best of the local wineries.
3. Penedés, Spain
Unbeknown to many, Penedés is the source of over 98% of Spain’s sparkling wines. Freixenet is the largest selling sparkling wine in the world, and Spanish cava is rapidly threatening to usurp French champagne as the go to drink of party goers and celebrants.
Situated in Catalonia, Penedés used to ship wines by the boatload to the Roman Empire. The modern day industry was developed in the 19th century when French winemakers discovered that the region’s soil and climate were similar to Bordeaux’s. Penedés is probably best investigated on a day trip from either Barcelona or a villa on the Costa Blanca.
At the west edge of Cyprus, you’ll find the Laona-Akamas wine route. This region boasts rugged coastlines, picture-perfect countryside and quaint villages that offer open invitations to their wineries.
You can find some of the best white wines on the island along this route, although the reds are not without their charms. The best way to experience the area is either by renting apartment-style accommodation, visiting on a Greek islands cruise, or staying at one of the nearby all inclusive resorts.
5. Tacoronte-Acentejo, Tenerife, Canary Islands
Found on the northeast of the island, Tacoronte-Acentejo is the longest established wine region in the Canary Islands. The volcanic origins of the archipelago and its climate make ideal growing conditions for vineyard terraces.
The region produces mostly red wines, but there are more international varieties produced here than elsewhere in Tenerife. Tacoronte-Acentejo wines have a distinct character thanks to the mineral notes imparted by the volcanic soils. This area is worth investigating whether visiting on a cruise, an all inclusive holiday or from your own villa-style accommodation.
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