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With a vast wine list from which to choose, a team of some of the world’s best sommeliers, and one of the rarest wine collections at sea; it is safe to say that at Celebrity Cruises, we like wine. We’re always on the lookout for new wines to try; the more unexpected, unusual, and – most importantly – surprising, the better. And who better to make a recommendation than our expert partners at The Wine Show? So sit back, pour yourself a glass of wine, and let Amelia Singer of The Wine Show guide you (and us) around the most surprising wine regions in Europe.
Italy is famous for its wine. So much so, in fact, that you might wonder why it has topped our list of surprising wine regions. The rolling hills of Tuscany are renowned for their vineyards, and are home to some of the most famous wines in the world – a glass of Chianti, anyone? But travel down to the toe of Italy’s boot, and you’ll find some of Italy’s best wine at the foot of Mount Etna, Sicily.
Wine expert Amelia Singer tells us: “Mount Etna is one of the most hauntingly beautiful wine regions. Gnarled, potent old vines struggle to survive on this steep, majestic active volcano. Just as hauntingly seductive are the age-worthy and complex wines.”
Amelia advises, though, that Mount Etna wines are not always immediate crowd pleasers –“They will take time, like their historic roots, to open up and fully reveal their intoxicating potency. But when they do – watch out – they will be just as arresting as the molten Etna lava.”
Like Italy, Spain is home to some of the world’s most famous wine regions. Rioja, the namesake of Spain’s most popular wine; Jerez, birthplace of the fortified wine sherry; Catalonia, the producer of Spain’s answer to champagne – Cava; the list goes on. But it is not just these distinguished destinations that play host to delicious wines – Amelia recommends Mallorca.
“Everyone thinks about Mallorca as a place for parties and beaches. It is far more diverse than that! From mountain ranges to vineyards planted a few yards from the ocean – you will find a wide range of terroir as well as grapes on this island.”
Living up to its reputation, Mallorca offers a fun way to discover the local vino – “A great way to explore is by taking the Mallorca Wine Express – a tractor thinly disguised as a train – which will take you around wineries and introduce you to some of the most exciting producers as well as delicious local foods and wine.”
Santorini, Greece: perfect whitewashed buildings, classic blue domes, and the idyllic orange glow of the most beautiful sunsets on earth. Santorini’s famed beauty exists in stark contrast to the violent volcanic eruption that created the island, but it is the very ash left behind by the volcano that makes its soils so fertile and its wines so special.
Amelia tells us about her favourite grape variety: Assyrtiko. “Santorini is home to the oldest native grape in Greece – the tangy, fresh and saline infused Assyrtiko. It’s earthy, chiseled, shale like aftertaste immediately transports one to this picturesque island whose soil is composed of volcanic ash, lava and pumice stone.”
“The assyrtiko grapes are grown low to the ground, in the shapes of crowns, to protect them from the heat and also the powerful winds which roll in from the sea. They look fittingly like a paean to the Greek Gods, offering thanks for these grapes which have been around since 1600 BC.”
Winemaking has existed in Slovenia since ancient times, and yet it is anything but old news. With so much in common with its well-established wine producing neighbours – Austria, Hungary, Croatia, and the Italian province of Friuli-Venezia Giulia – Amelia advises that the ancient wine region of Slovenia is on track to emerge brilliantly new again.
Within the Littoral Wine Region of Slovenia you’ll find Koper, home to one of Amelia’s favourite wines. “Koper itself is an underrated town of stunning medieval architecture and enchanting Gothic references. The wines from this coastal wine region are equally off radar and charming.”
“It may be the warmest wine region in Slovenia but due to the coastal breezes a wide array of grapes and wine styles can be cultivated. The Adriatic coast is full of timeless seaside towns where you can enjoy the delicious local seafood and cheese with an aromatic and spicy Malvasia - one of my favourite white wines you can get in the area.”
Whether you’re longing for the volcanic landscape of Mount Etna, the pristine beaches of Mallorca, the exquisite island of Santorini, or the medieval old town of Koper, could a glass of wine transport your taste buds there in the meantime? And with four new recommendations from the experts at The Wine Show, you can rest assured that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
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