Ambrosia may very well be the nectar of the gods, but it's oenophilia that has very much gripped consumers. Across the globe many people from all walks and stomping grounds take exciting road trips in order to seek sun and a little Sancerre.
Whether you are a red, white or rose fan, there has never been a better time to get into all things wine. The humble grape has seen a huge purple like wave rise in the last few decades. This is largely in part thanks to individuals growing passion for wine as well as experiencing its taste. Nowadays, you can have the chance to enjoy a number of different vineyards not to mention vintages in all four corners of the world.
One of the most popular places to visit when it comes to wine is of course France. With more than thirty million visitors on an annual basis, we feel a certain amour towards this particular country. Call it what you will but there is certainly a je ne said quoi about France. Here you can have the ability to tour several large as well as smaller independent vineyards with a diversity like no other.
The South of France and in particular Provence has some of the finest estates known to man or femme. Boasting an all year round warm climate, it is the perfect conditions in which to grow grapes. Some of the finest places to visit include the likes of Provence and Burgundy which are world famous for their incredible selection of wines. It truly is a wine connoisseurs haven as you stroll through the never ending aisles of vines basking in the glorious sunshine.
French grape varieties are extensive and over the years have been exported to many far flung areas as many look to further their passion for the subject. It really comes down to personal taste at the end of the day but some prefer the spicy blends of the Rhone area, whilst others simply adore the lighter offering from the Loire district. On the other hand, certain regions in France have specific wines and are otherwise known as appellations.
You will often see this on the bottle itself as appellation controlee which stands for where the wine was produced, a quality guarantee. Furthermore, the wines are manufactured according to detailed rules and regulations which it must go through to establish this mark. Amongst other areas, this feature the grape variety and even the soil. The wine also needs to undergo a rigorous sensory test which deems it fit enough as far as the style is concerned.
For some who are slowly building their wine portfolio or perhaps fitting a brand new wine cellar, it can be a bit of a minefield at times.
After all, there are nearly 300 different types of appellations which can be found in France alone. This ranges from the larger estates in Burgundy to the more boutique set ups situated in the Loire. Meanwhile, not only are there plain appellations such as the ones you might find in Burgundy, but far more complex varieties. These can be found in certain districts ranging from Chablis and Macon to Cote de Rhone and many many more.
In addition to this, the small the area the more exclusive the appellation could be in places like Auxey-Duresse and Pommard. These are often referred to as premier cru, whilst Grand Cru is quite literally the grand daddy of them all.
On top of this you have the wonderful region of Napa Valley. Situated in California, this is considered to be one of the greatest wine regions to explore. It was made famous in the charming 2004 film Sideways which starred Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church. Wine is so enriching that you will find many buying the stuff as an investment.
This is particularly beneficial if it was only one of a handful made or an old vintage wine such as Chateau Lafite. Some of these particular bottles can fetch upwards of $200,000. But if you are looking for a little inspiration and don't have that much cash to splash here are some lovely wines that will help you raise a glass.
8 Ameztoi 'Rubentis' Rosado, Getariako Txakolina
This little sexy Spanish number will no doubt have you shouting ole in next to no time. This wine is dry in nature, but has a spritzy like zing to it. It hails from a small area located in the heart of the Basque region, and has grown in stature with wine connoisseurs for some time now thanks to its fantastic quality.
You can easily guzzle this wine quickly, the Ameztoi Rosado simply cries out to be drunk and is a cozy companion to any summer evening dinner party. Versatile yet light, it is extremely good value at less than $20 a bottle. Some tones to watch for in this bottle include hints of red fruit and smoked sea salt.
It can be easily consumed with simple items such as a feta salad or marinated anchovies which perfectly matches the salty undercurrents in this belter of a wine.
7 Broc Cellars White Zinfandel
Situated in California this dazzling rose from Broc Cellars is sure to get the party started. Many of the region's signature grapes are undergoing somewhat of a vino revolution in the last few years. This is definitely one heck of an attitude in a bottle as Chris Brockway introduces a bold white zinfandel which is destined for great things.
His white variety is just as punchy as Floyd Mayweather's, whilst it lends itself to a full bodied plumpness. Some of the tones to note in this case feature red berries and just a soupçon of nuttiness. This is the ideal accompaniment to dishes such as game or red meat.
6 Bernreiter Gemister Satz, , Austria
For around the $18 mark you can wrap your lips around the Gemister Satz from Austria. The hills are certainly alive with this blended complex wine with its melange of grapes. The literal translation for Gemister Satz is 'mixed set,' but there is nothing unusual about this bottle.
Originating from Vienna, it's rare to find such a beauty which is grown within close proximity of a city. Throughout this bit of plonk you will most likely find hints of peppery notes coupled with floral undertones. This is also complemented by a pleasant tang featuring soft apples. A much lighter wine, the Gemister Satz is fresh as a summer's breeze and goes with many dishes from chicken to meats.
5 Broadbent Vinho Verde, NV, Portugal
Over to Portugal we head and for less than $15 the Broadbent Vinho Verde is one not to be underestimated. Northwest Portugal is renowned for its zingy white numbers, but nevertheless this would not go amiss in anyone's picnic basket.
An easy drinking wine, it's perfect for any time of day, it blends together both Trajadura as well as Loureiro grapes. Extremely refreshing on the palate, this thirst quencher comes from the same stable as their collection of Madeira ports and again is excellent value for your money.
4 Domaine de L'Ecu 'Granite' Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine
This 2011 bottle will definitely catch the eye of wine lovers and friends. In spite of the heavier price tag of around $25, the Domaine de L’Ecu Muscadet is worth every dime. This undervalued Muscadet comes from the world renowned Domaine de L’Ecu.
They have shot to notoriety through their focus on biodynamic wines coming out of the Loire region. A simple blend on the nose, this gem of a Muscadet ensures you will be clicking through to order in no time. Tangy with a hint of acidity, it has a nice mineral tone to it and is quite rich on the palate.
For the perfect combination, why not order a bottle of this alongside half a dozen oysters or a piece of beautiful halibut.
3 Weingut Spreitzer 'Riesling ’
For around $15 be inspired with this lovely Riesling. If you're more of a sweet fan, then this will certainly hit all the right vino notes. When produced with the right balance of acidity and fruit, a Riesling can be a joy to behold.
Originating from Germany, you can choose from a number of different Rieslings all with their own personal characteristics. Dependent on if you like a little dry number of a bold fruity one, Rieslings are distinctive by the terms cabinet 'kabinett' or ‘halbtrocken’. Usually, this appears on the actual label. However, when it comes to an impressive medium-bodied Rieslings, you can't go wrong with the 'Riesling 101' from the renowned Spreitzer estate.
Ripe in nature, it has a subtle fruity flavour which features juicy apples and apricots. It goes particularly well with a variety of fatty meats, pork or bacon.
2 Domaine le Murmurium Vermentino 'Anne Pichon Sauvage,'
The Vermentino grape is usually produced on native Italian terra firma. Based in the heart of Northwestern Liguria, it can be found extending to the southern most parts of Sardinia. Vermentino can often be seen in a wide range of bottles that span herbal tones, not to mention fruity ones.
Yet for all this Italian love, the grape is known to be planted more in and around the South of France. This brings us nicely on to this punchy white wine hailing from the Southern Rhône Valley's 'Côte de Ventoux.' It's fresh yet underrated and by no means aggressive in its nature.
A mineral wine in texture, its lemon notes just beg for it to be opened outside in fresh air among good friends. Zesty and zingy dishes will go perfectly with this Vermentino including pasta with a pesto dressing and goes well with all types of lemon vinaigrettes.
1 Bonny Doon 'Beeswax Vineyard' Picpoul
This Californian wine is another dandy of a bottle, and for less than $16 a bottle you can't argue with the price. The face behind Boony Doon is Randall Grahm who played a pivotal role in ensuring people became more au fait with French grapes and all its wonders. But it wasn't until 1986 when Doon launched himself into the limelight with his debut vintage.
This was entitled 'Le Cigare Volant,' and paid homage to the iconic 'Châteauneuf-du-Pape' which has become his most celebrated brand today. Despite this taking place back in the 1980's, he has gone on to bigger and brighter things. Fast forward to today and his Picpoul is one of his latest wines to watch. Meanwhile, the textures on the tongue that you might be able to identify include several sharp undertones.
Yet this genuinely bouncy type of wine will both sing as well as dance on the palate. Although it may be dry and crisp, the $24 price tag is justifiable given the immense drinkable quality. It's understated in its own way, but has plenty of presence to boot and is certain to quench anyone's thirst. The types of food that you're most likely to drink this Picpoul with include asparagus, earthy vegetables and citrus type flavours.
On the flip side, you may want to sample oysters and a wealth of seafood dishes alongside it such as bouillabaisse or salted codfish brandade. This will really bring out the wine to its full potential.