13 Jan Forget Dry January go on a Vino Fuelled Holiday
If we had to make a list of our favourite things of all time, wine and travel would be pretty high up the list. So ditch those dry January plans (or clamp together those dry January savings) and head to one of these dreamy wine trails..
South Downs, England
It’s fizzy, refined and winning awards: English white wine sparkles in the summer, the perfect time to take a tour of Southern England’s vineyards.
As the twisted vines testify, this vineyard in Wickham, on the southwest tip of the South Downs National Park, is one of the oldest in England. But English vine-growing goes much further back; at the time of the Norman Conquest in the 11th century grapes were being made into wine.
Cross the border into West Sussex to visit Nutbourne Vineyard. Nearby Nyetimber may have been in the vanguard of the English sparkling wine revolution – but it’s not open to the public. However, Nutbourne in Pulborough is open to all, and in 2015 it’s still white wine won a gold medal at the International Wine and Spirit Competition, the first English still wine to win. The sparkling wines are also sensational.
The family-owned winery is based in a 19th-century windmill midway along the Downs. The Jazz in the Vines concerts take place in August.
Wine has been made in the mountainous Jura for well over a thousand years. But it is only recently that this corner of France, right on the Swiss border, has begun to make a name for itself in the world of wine, as a new generation of vignerons (winemakers) make their mark.
A tasting at this historic domaine is the perfect introduction to the Jura. Ask Marie-Florence Pignier, a seventh-generation vigneronne, to take you down for a tour of the astonishing 13th-century cellar. The vast, high, vaulted barrel-chamber resembles a cathedral, so it is not surprising to learn that this was originally a monastery founded in 1250 by vigneron-monks who planted the original vineyard.
The wines produced today are organic and highly contemporary. Certain cuvées are ‘naturel’, with no sulphite added, allowing for an explosion of fruit flavour.
Medieval Château-Chalon, classified as one of France’s most beautiful villages, looks down on a criss-cross patchwork of vineyards, including 12 acres cultivated by jovial vigneron, Jean-Pierre Salvadori. His rustic cellar-cum-museum is right on the main street. It is always open for visits, if you call first; Jean-Pierre’s wife prepares home-baked patisseries, the perfect pairing for his exquisite Vin Jaune.