The idea of bespoke experiences equates to a sensory experience customized to your needs. One of the few complete sensory experiences, in my opinion, is enjoying a glass of wine. From the audible tug of the cork, to the gurgling pour, the aromatic bouquet swirling in the olfactory to the taste of the vintage, wine tasting only rivals the actual visit to the wineries or vineyards. Over the last decade I have had the pleasure to sample and taste numerous wines from some of the world’s fine vineyards and wineries. As an avid and eager collector of vino (German Riesling and Italian Prosecco in particular), I have a particular affinity for traveling to the valleys where acres upon acres of grapes bask in the sun. This particular post is something I have been meaning to write but it never got the time and attention it deserved even though I have ample of information bursting to come out of my keypad. For your next summer trip these wine regions could be where you’d like to take a bespoke wine tour and supplement your private cellar.
While everyone goes on and about the Bordeaux and Burgundy wine regions of France, I am a particular fan of Alsace. My fondness for a German Riesling has a lot to do with whites from Alsace too. Last summer I had the opportunity to visit the region albeit a day trip from Paris en-route to the Mosel region. Alsace is located on the eastern border of France next to Germany’s Saar-Mosel valley and is comprised of convivial fairy tale villages with ample culture and acres of vineyards. Being a part of Germany in the past, it holds some traditions from the eastern neighbor, some of which are visible in its wine making as well. Alsatian wines and especially it’s Rieslings have been under the constant shadow of France’s otherwise superstar wine regions and Germany’s Rhine valley. The wines grown here are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Muscat d’Alsace and Cremant d’Alsace among others. The climatic conditions of Alsace with very cold winters and hot summers are favorable for Rieslings that are dry. When you read a label ‘Vin d’Alsace’ take a moment to sample it or attend tastings of this gorgeous countryside, who knows you might discover a varietal you like. Apart from the vast expanse of vineyards, Alsace beholds picture perfect streets lined up with adorable cottages, chapels and castles. Some of the wine tours offering bespoke tastings and tours are Cellar Tours, Grape Escapes. Some of my personal favorite wines from the region are 2016 L’Aubinière Muscadet Sure et Maine, 2015 König Vin D’Alsace Riesling, 2016 Mosbach Vins d’Alsace Riesling, 2015 Mosbach Pinot Gris Cuvée Particulière.
Hop across the border from Strasbourg, Alsace and you are in Moselle, Germany – the river that joins Rhine in Koblenz runs through South West Germany. Because of their history and geographical proximity it is advised you must begin the wine tour from Alsace to Mosel. The third most important wine country among 13 in Germany and most sought after thanks to the Rieslings, Mosel vineyards cascade down the hilly terraces on the banks of the river Mosel and its tributaries Saar and Ruwer. The sharp bend in the river between France and Germany is where the most incredible Rieslings are made. The valley is speckled with castles and churches all along the route of the river and towns such as Trier, Zell, Leiwen, Traben – Trarbach, Cochem, Winningen, Bernkastel Kues are hosts to wine festivals and events during April and early May as well as early October. I would recommend, as a fan of Riesling, that you take a tour along the river by car or by cruise and stop over the wineries for tasting and lunch. I had a wonderful road trip along the length of the Mosel river from Trier to Cochem and onward to Koblenz. Throughout my journey along the river Mosel we stopped at towns mentioned above and took in the views, some strolls in the steep wine terraces and sip some wine with a tour of Bishoflische Weinguter and a wine tasting. I shopped for wines at Bernkastel Kues and trust me I left feeling I need to load up a truck back home across the Atlantic. There are many bespoke tours you can take along the river some of them even include a stay at wine estates and some are bike rides through towns and vineyards. For tours visit Mosel Tourism and select the tour that suits your needs. My wine collection has always had a Riesling or two from Mosel and Pfalz and the dry, sweet light- bodied white wines are a treat during summer. Some of the wines I purchased while in Mosel are, 2016 Markus Molitor Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett Riesling, 2016 Loersch Apotheke Kabinett Riesling, 2017 Dr H Thanisch Bernkasteler Doctor Kabinett Riesling.
Rhine Valley, Germany
Upstream from Koblenz flows the river Rhine and the region is known by the river – Rheinland-Pfalz the South-West state of Germany. The Mosel and Rhine fall under the same state but are considered different wine regions simply due to the variations in the wines even with the same grapes. The Rhine Valley particularly around the Koblenz area has terraces of vineyards and wineries that range from smaller wine makers to mid-sized. These wine makers are small enough not to ship their wines outside of Germany and prefer their customers to visit them and purchase the wines. I was keen to have them shipped to USA however knowing that I will have to personally visit and carry them home is a much welcome change than to shipping. This only gives you legitimate reasons to visit the most romantic river valley to vacation and taste wines. The slow and pregnant river has different sub-regions like the Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Mittelrhein and Pflaz along its course and each have varieties of Rieslings, Muller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer. Taking a cruise or a personal guided tour of the towns along the river is the ideal way to visit this region to your heart’s content. As for my tour preference, I chose the gliding river cruise with the option of alighting the ship as pleased and visiting the towns that can’t get more gorgeous and romantic all at once. Honestly is there a more romantic place than the Rhine valley? The towns of Bacharach, Boppard, Saint Goar are all good wine spots to tour and taste some of the best wines Germany produces. Some of the wines I purchased around Koblenz were 2015 Weingut Göhlen Ehrenbreitsteiner, 2014 Weingut Göhlen Ehrenbreitsteiner Spätlese, 2016 Weingut Göhlen Muller-Thurgau.
Who loves a prosecco ? I do !! My brunch at home can never be complete without flutes of this “everything is going to be fine” sparkling wine. Whenever my husband and I treat ourselves to explore the wine section of Wegman’s (its extensive and at the back of the frequented area) there is generally a Prosecco discovery waiting to happen and then the deliberation of should we or shouldn’t we add one more to the cellar ensues. The region of Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene in Veneto, Italy sits between Venice and the Alps of Italy and if you are visiting Venice or Northern Italy it’s inexcusable not to explore the wine country of this bubbly. Valdobbiadene is the capital of the region and you can begin your journey in the steep hills and terrain of vineyards from this town and end it at Conegliano. Sprinkled with castles, picturesque Italian ancient churches and landscape worth painting with a glass of the finest sparkling wine in hand. The trip includes more than you had asked for in terms of hedonism. This wine region also boasts of being a wine capital of the world with historic and celebrated wine-making schools and viticulture institutes. There are numerous wine relics along the way like Conegliano – trending high on instagram worthiness. The wine road is Italy’s first ever historic wine trail and an approved UNESCO World Heritage candidate. A weekend in Prosecco with a guided tour should set the stage to toast a flute to the finest moments in Europe’s wine regions. Cellar Tours and Grape Escapes offer guided bespoke tours in Valdobbiadene region. When you purchase a Prosecco make sure to read the region of production to get the historic and authentic sparkling wine. Visit Prosecco.it