Sunday, 7 September 2008

Top Trips For Wine Lovers

Bordeaux, France
Why: One of the largest wine regions in the world and home to cabernets, merlots and sauvignons. Until recently, local chateaux weren't open to visitors; it's now possible to tour Chateau Pavie and Chateau Belair in the prehistoric village of St. Emilion. Visit Chateau d'Yquem for dessert wines and Chateau Mouton Rothschild for cabernet sauvignon blends.

The Grand Hotel in the heart of the region. The 150 rooms have vineyard views and flat-screen televisions.

For more information
, visit

Piedmont, Italy

Why: This hilly region is home to the Nebbiolo grape, producer of red wines Barolo and Barbaresco, known for their overtones of truffles, cherries and plums. The wineries are perched in the Langhe hills. Major producers include Gaja, which boasts pricey vintages such as Sperss Nebbiolo Langhe; Bruno Giacosa for Barberesco Santo Stefano, one of the most coveted wines in the country; and Pio Cesare, a winery family-run since 1881.

Stay: Turin Palace Hotel, an 18th-century property on Piazza San Carlo. The suites are decorated with Italian antiques.

For more information, visit

Marlborough, New Zealand (In the South Island)

Why: Fruity sauvignon blancs are the mainstay of this region. Scenic wineries spread along Wairau River are surrounded by green hills and look onto Mount Tapuaenuku. Notable vineyards include Cloudy Bay and Wairau River Wines. Check out Fromm Winery-La Strada for rieslings.

Stay: Old St. Mary's Convent, a former convent with five rooms boasting views of the vineyards.

For more information, visit

Rioja, Spain

Why: The wines here are made mainly with Tempranillo, a red grape, and have hints of coconut and vanilla. The vineyards are scattered along the Ebro River. Gran reserva, aged five years, is the highest quality. Try the 904 Alta from La Rioja Alta. Bodegas Roda, established in 1991, is one of the newest wineries.

Stay: Los Agustinos, a 14th-century convent turned into a 62-room property with wi-fi, a golf course and a gym.

For more information, visit

Cape Town, South Africa

Why: Three regions are within an hour's drive of Cape Town. The Stellenbosch area, situated near the Eertse River, has rich red blends, such as the cabernet sauvignon produced by the 17th-century Annandale Wine Estate. The Paarl area is home to shiraz producers like Mellasat. White wines, like those made at Steenberg Vineyards, are in Constantia, set amongst the Stone Mountains.

Stay: Ellerman House, a former estate overlooking Bantry Bay. The 11 rooms have private balconies.

For more information, visit

Sambuca di Sicilia, Sicily, Italy

Sicily has been making wine for thousands of years, and much of the production is from native grapes, like Primitivo and Aglianico for reds and Fiano for citrusy whites. Arancio estate makes native wines like Nero D'Avola and Grillo and international varietals like syrah. Visit Vigneti Zabu for wine made from the native red grape Inzolia, and Planeta for a large selection of native and international vintages.

Baglio San Vincenzo, a villa with 12 rooms that have views of the Sicilian countrywide.

For more information
, visit

Monticello Wine Trail, Charlottesville, Va.

Why: The Blue Ridge Mountains frame the 21 wineries in this area, which produces reds and whites and is the oldest wine-growing region in the U.S. Visit Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard for Bordeaux-style reds, whites and ros's, and for CRU, an all-American aperitif wine. Sample the chardonnay at Jefferson Vineyard, (Thomas Jefferson was the original investor) and stop by Oakencroft to try nine reds and whites, including a petit verdot.

Stay: Keswick Hall, an English-style manor with 48 rooms that boast countryside views.

For more information, visit

Wachau, Austria (Near Vienna)

Why: This scenic area that runs along the Danube River has steep wine gardens and blooming apricot trees. Visitors can explore here by bike or by boat. Wachau is famous for its rieslings--try the sweet vintage at Jamek Winery. Visit Franz Hirtzberger for Federspiel, a medium-bodied white wine, and Eigl for pinot noir.

Stay: Hotel Imperial, a 19th-century former palace that is now a 138-room property.

For more information, visit

Maipo, Chile

Why: Drive along this wine route 45 minutes outside of Santiago known for cabernet sauvignon and flanked by the Andes. Visit prominent labels like Concho y Toro to try the Melchor, named for its founder. Try the Altazor vintage at Undurraga, made from 19th-century vineyards that give it a deep, bold flavor and stop by Errazuriz, a 128-year-old winery noted for its cabernet and merlot from its Max Reserva vintage.

Stay: The Ritz-Carlton. The 205 rooms boast city and mountain views.

For more information, visit

British Columbia, Canada

Why: This scenic region with patchwork vineyards and fruit orchards reaches from the Rocky Mountains to Vancouver Island. Visit Fraser Valley for sweet wines such as the Bacchus at Domaine de Chaberton. In the Okanagan Valley, check out Calona Vineyards for its pinot noir and its private reserve dessert wines, and stop by Paradise Ranch for its ice wines.

Stay: Skaha Lake Paradise Resort, a collection of waterfront condos with mountain views that are five minutes from several wineries.

For more information, visit

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