Sampling the local food and drink is one of the great pleasures that travel gives us. We get to discover new flavours and learn a little about the local culture at the same time.
Wine-making has been around for thousands of years and in some cultures has become woven into the fabric of daily life. We take a look at some of the top wines in each of CLC World’s destinations. Why not give them a try when you’re next on holiday?
Some people can be a little sniffy when it comes to the idea of English wines, but they are the ones missing some incredible drinking. A number of English wineries have beaten the French to Gold Medals for their world-class sparkling wines.
Wine has been drunk in England since the Iron Age, most likely imported, but it’s probable the Romans were the first to introduce vineyards to the country. It was the arrival of the Norman nobles with William the Conqueror in 1066 that saw viticulture take off. The Domesday Book records more than 40 vineyards.
England’s cool climate is similar to that of the Champagne region in northern France and especially suited to producing grapes for successful sparkling wine production. There are now 400 vineyards in the country, so go on give English wine a try!
My recommendations for English wines include the Cornish wines stocked at CLC Trenython Manor. Knightor Winery’s Carpe Diem Rosé is a fruity pink number with notes of rose petal, raspberry, peach and strawberry, and their Brut Classic is a floral sparkling wine with honeysuckle and elderflower and a crisp, clean finish. Camel Valley’s delicately flavoured white wine, Atlantic Dry, has aromas of grapefruit, elderflower and green fruit.
Spain’s wines have become increasingly popular over the years and at this year’s Grand International Wine Award MUNDUS VINI, Spain had an impressive tally of 631 medals, second behind Italy. 250 wine experts can’t be wrong!
The most successful Spanish winery was González Byass with 13 medals: 1 Grand Gold, 10 Gold and 2 Silver. Regionally, La Rioja was the big winner, collecting 137 distinctions, 3 of which were Grand Gold; followed by Castile-La Mancha (124 medals) and Castile-León, with 1 Grand Gold. Several sherries received Grand Gold distinctions, including Venerable Vors, from Osborne.
At CLC World’s Costa del Sol resorts, along with a variety of Spanish and international wines, we like to showcase local produce and have three wines from the Bodegas Morosanto Almocabar Collection in the Sierras de Málaga, which are my recommendations for Spanish wines.
Syrah Almocabar is a full bodied red with an aroma reminiscent of berries with nuances of spicy aromas. Chardonnay & Moscatel Almocabar has a pleasing white fruit flavour white fruit and floral aroma with a fresh finish, while the rosé, Petite Verdot Almocabar is reminiscent of raspberries and strawberries with a silky, balanced body.
Turkey is another country you may not readily associate with wine production, yet it has a history of more than 7,000 years of viticulture, long before the classic civilisations of Greece and Rome helped cement wine’s place as a cultural cornerstone.
Like England, it’s only recently that Turkey’s wine industry has become internationally recognised. It boasts a vast number of indigenous grape varieties, although their presence is not much known beyond Turkey’s borders.
There are three dominant wine regions in Turkey: Cappadocia, Aegean Coast and Thrace. For a rosé, I would recommend Pasaeli, Çalkarasi Rosé, Izmir, which is a beautifully balanced wine. For red you would not go far wrong with the premium priced Urla Sarapcilik, Nero D’Avola-Urla Karasi which is farmed on 3,000-year old vineyard terraces, while for a smooth white, Kavaklidere, Prestige Narince has a creamy palate of yellow fruit.
Austria’s wines are now firm favourites with wine experts and lovers from around the world. With internationally successful grape varieties such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet all coming to fruition across the country, there’s some great wine to be enjoyed.
Grüner Veltliner is one of Austria’s most popular white grapes which delivers at all quality levels. A personal favourite is the Pfaffl Grüner Veltliner which is dry and fresh. Pittnauer Pitti Blaufrankisch is a medium bodied red with floral and spice notes, there’s plenty of fruitiness to it as well.
If you like a little sparkle in your wine, then you need to look for Sekt or PetNat on the wine list. Szigeti Pinot Noir Sekt Brut Rosé has a fantastic colour with the aroma of strawberries and red cherries hitting the palate. A summer sparkler to savour.
America may have a long history of winemaking – the Spanish arrived bearing vines – but only relatively recently have its wines been worthy of any real note. In 1976, an American white wine beat French wines to first place in a blind tasting, yet I remember only too well thinking “what is this?” as I gingerly sipped on a E & J Gallo or Paul Masson offering in the 1980s (the Masson carafes were handy, though!).
Nowadays, it’s a different story. American wines are gaining a good reputation and in 2016, the U.S. produced 3 billion litres of wine, making it the fourth largest producer in the world after Italy, France and Spain.
My three recommendations are: Summer Water 2019 Rosé (Central Coast), a pale salmon-pink colour with a sweet aroma of melon, bubble gum and soft rose petals. Moscato d’Oro 2017 Napa Valley is exotically perfumed with nectarines, wild peaches, white blossoms and honey which leads to a refreshing palate. For red, I’ve chosen Smooth Red Blend Apothic Crush; great for lovers of chocolate, this blend has red fruit flavours with notes of caramel and chocolate. A velvety experience and reasonably well-priced.
The Romans didn’t make much of an inroad into Scotland and at the time were probably of the mind set that it wouldn’t be much good, weather-wise, for growing vines either. Some have tried in recent years, but as these are few and far between, and I haven’t had a chance to sample any of them, I’m cheating!
What there is plenty of in Scotland is distilleries, and while whisky still dominates, there are a number of gin and vodka distilleries popping up. In fact, CLC Duchally Country Estate has its own Gatehouse Gin distillery. However, I shall focus on whiskies, over 50 of which can be enjoyed in Duchally’s Whisky Bar.
Old Pulteney 12 years old is available in Waitrose and has a beautiful bronze colour. The tasting notes range from overtones of fresh lemon and coconut to a finish of dried fruit cake and exotic wood, but there is a definite bitter chocolate and vanilla at the start.
Dewar’s, another 12 year old whisky, this one looks like honey and has buttery, mellow toffee-apple and fudge notes. For the final offering, I’m going to push the boat out and suggest Glengoyne’s 18 year old single malt. I love their slogan, “Unhurried Since 1833” and the intense gold liquid is fresh and spicy with ripe apples filling the mouth.