Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Guest Blogger: Five Southern Hemisphere New World Wineries

[Keith, from Amsterdam, writes the travel blog and website Velvet Escape. We enjoyed his recent post about a few less-know wine regions so much that we asked him if we could post part of it here. You can also read Keith’s complete article on Velvet Escape.]

Europe has many of the finest wineries in the world. Anyone who has visited Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany, Veneto, or Rioja can attest to the stunning scenery and some of the most heavenly wines in the world.

In the past ten years, wines from the New World (including Chile, Argentina, South Africa, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand), have grown tremendously in popularity. I started “researching” (that’s a good word) New World wines quite a few years ago and since then I’ve become a huge fan of wines from, especially, Australia, Chile and South Africa. When I eventually got the chance to travel through these countries, visits to various wineries naturally became a part of the itinerary. What I encountered were gorgeous wineries in breathtaking surroundings, and wines that were truly sublime. For this article, I’ve picked five wineries in the Southern Hemisphere which I’ve visited in the past two years. These wineries produce a variety of delicious wines in beautiful settings.

Boschendal (South Africa)
This winery is located in the Western Cape, halfway between the historic towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The lovely Cape Dutch buildings form a stark contrast with the rugged Groot Drakenstein mountains in the background. The scenery is indeed breathtaking. You can combine a wine-tasting here with a delicious lunch under the shady trees with a view of the mountains. One of the most intriguing wines produced here is a Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend.

Montes (Chile)
The wines produced at this estate are arguably some of Chile’s finest. Located in the charming, hilly Colchagua Valley, this winery features a hyper-modern central building designed by a team of Chile’s most renowned architects, and an impressive cellar. The Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc are absolutely divine!

Domaine Chandon (Australia)
Situated in the Yarra Valley, just east of Melbourne, the Domaine Chandon estate (of the famous Möet & Chandon name) produces an exclusive selection of beautiful sparkling wines (you can’t call it champagne if it doesn’t originate from the region of Champagne in France). The verdant rolling hills form a gorgeous setting for this estate with its signature Victorian manor.

Errazuriz (Chile)
Errazuriz is one of Chile’s most prominent families and they own several high-profile wineries in the Aconcagua Valley. Fed by the molten snow from South America’s highest peak (Mt. Aconcagua), the historic Errazuriz estate boasts a variety of beautiful wines including the Merlot and Shiraz.

Bodega Ruca Malen (Argentina)
Ruca Malen is located south of Argentina’s wine capital, Mendoza. The scenery is truly magnificent: row upon row of vines with the awe-inspiring snowy peaks of the Andes mountains as the backdrop. This winery produces a selection of delicious Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec blend is also noteworthy. You can opt to combine a wine-tasting with a gourmet seven-course lunch, whilst enjoying the breathtaking view of the Andes.

This is but a small selection of wineries that have made the biggest impression on me. If you’ve been to an amazing winery in any of these New World wine countries, please feel free to share your experiences with me.