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Wine on tour

13 September 2018
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Sure, there’s Napa and Champagne, Tuscany and our own fair country, but where should you point your nose if you’re searching for something a little different?

Words Kate Preece


A Mediterranean island paradise only an hour and a half from Paris.

Warmer and drier than France, this mountainous area boasts 30 indigenous varietals, many of which you would not have heard of or tried before. The three main ones to take note of are vermentinu, niellucciu and sciaccarellu.

Across its nine distinct wine regions you will find plenty of vermentinu vines. The grape is cultivated also in Italy, Spain and Portugal, but white vermentino, as the wine is named, is a completely different drop on Corsica.

Niellucciuo, a relation of Tuscany’s sangiovese gape, and sciaccarellu, the go-to for pinot noir drinkers, are the prevalent red grapes in the north and south of the island respectively. For those looking for rose, head straight to Domaine Fiumicicoli in the southwest region of Sartene.


A wine haven kept under wraps by the Russians.

The 1970s saw Bulgaria reach the heady heights of being the largest wine exporters in the world, with litre upon litre pouring into the Soviet Union. As expected, however, the fall of said socialist state, caused a bit of an upset. Fortunately, for us, vines have memories and so, once politics stepped out of the way, one of the oldest wine-making producers in the world stepped back into the fray.

There are two official wine regions, Danube Plain and Thracian Valley, and a vast quantity of red grapes. You’ll find your old faithfuls, merlot and cab sav, albeit a touch tarter, but will want to wrap your taste buds around a mavrud, the medium red to watch, and find yourself a melnik, reportedly a favourite of Winston Churchill.

Danube will be the choice for purveyors of white wine, and dimyat the grape to experience.

Nowadays, t’s easy to find a tour and Sofia Airport, Bulgaria, is a three-hour flight from London.

Amazing landscape of vineyard in central Bulgaria with dramatic clouds in the sky and in black and white

Okanagan Valley

Skiing isn’t the only reason to go to Canada.

British Columbia’s wine is on the rise, especially in the southeast Okanagan Valley. The wine enthusiasts are all atwitter as the number of wineries increase and production levels rival that of the peach and apricot orchards.

It’s easy to see why the 250km region is an ideal destination for a bike tour – which is also the ideal way to experience the wide-ranging microclimates first-hand. Oh and there’s supposedly a monster in the lake. His name is Ogopopo.

Don’t miss a visit to Mission Hill, which has architectural merits alongside its fine wine accolades.

From Vancouver, it’s an hour on a plane or a scenic four-hour drive, which is a great introduction to the area.

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