Under the Radar Wineries | Advantage
From the Old World to the New, these unexpected wine regions impress even the most discerning connoisseur
While Napa Valley and Bordeaux have long been the destinations for some of the best wines in the world, new regions have begun making their mark in the industry. Unique growing conditions and bold new approaches on this age-old practice, coupled with exquisite terrain, have made these regions the latest destinations for wine savants.
Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa
An hour and a half outside Cape Town sits a scenic valley oasis under a moniker translated as "Heaven-on-Earth." Sitting amongst the mountains and bordering the ocean, Hemel-en-Aarde boasts some of the most agreeable wine-making terrains, with its complex soil and sun-facing slopes. Chief amongst the region's exceptional vineyards are helicopter-friendly Bouchard Finlayson and Ataraxia. The regions has been producing some of South Africa's most elegant Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. For the adventurous types, head over to the neighbouring town, Hermanus. It's world-renowned for being the best whale-watching destination on land, and also offers shark-cage diving and cliff paths for hiking enthusiasts.
Boasting a storied history of winemaking from the times of the ancient Phoenicians to the Greeks, winemaking is certainly not a new practice on this Mediterranean island. As island regions garner acclaim however, Corsica is the latest amongst them to experience a particularly fruitful revival of unparalleled, high-caliber wines. Leading the charge is Domaine Fiumicioli, located in Sartène and considered the soul of the island, with its vast history and inherent charm. Another must-visit is Domaine Saparale, a 2,500-acre estate with exquisite views of mountains in every direction. With an old olive mill renovated into a luxurious gîte—complete with a swimming pool and traditional hammam—the property is ideal for those looking to stay a while.
In the south of Portugal is Alentejo, one of Europe's latest and most exciting destinations for robust red wines. As the country's least populated region, the agriculture has remained notoriously untouched and thus a blank canvas for winemakers. Situated in Alentejo plain are the mandatory wineries, Esperão and Adega Mayor. The former, set next to the lush landscape of the Douro River, has a prix fixe menu offered by one of Portugal's rising chefs. The winery of the latter, in contrast, was designed by renowned architect Álvaro Siza Vieira, whose stark lines represent its contemporary and spirited nature. Before leaving, be sure to stop in Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the former residence of Portuguese kings.
Casablanca Valley, Chile
On the coastal plain between Santiago and Valparaiso sits Chile's burgeoning wine region, Casablanca Valley. Though having a late start, the valley has become synonymous with premium wines largely due to the Mediterranean-style climate. Bordering the Andes to the east and Pacific to the west, Kingston Family Vineyards challenged the status quo by planting Syrah and Pinot Noir grapevines in a region dominated by white. It paid off, as they are now regarded as one of the best vineyards in Chile. Following a similar trajectory, Casa del Bosque helped pioneer the cold-climate viticulture. Accompanied by a restaurant as prestigious as its wine, Casa del Bosque offers the ultimate day in the vineyard.
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