10 countries to go to in the fall for the world’s best wine
Life Ecology. Wine travel ideas this fall: from Portugal to Kuban and from Sting’s winery in Tuscany to wine fountains in Spain.
There is a special charm in autumn travel – the weather is still warm and sunny, and most tourists have already left for their homes. And it is also at this time of year to gather grapes and make wine. And tasting the young wine in the place where it is produced – whether it is the sunny hills of Tuscany or the green expanse of the Alazan Valley – is a sophisticated and incomparable pleasure.
We present 10 countries in which in autumn you can not only sightsee, but also go down to the old wine cellars, take part in the grape harvest, have fun at colorful festivals or even make your own wine.
French winemaking traditions need no introduction. You should head to Burgundy for red wines from Chardonnay, Aligote and Pinot Noir grapes, as well as the young Beaujolais Nouveau wine, which is celebrated every third Thursday of November. To visit the many famous chateaux of Bordeaux you need to book a tour – as an independent tourist you may not be allowed. Such tours run until the end of October and include a visit to the château, tasting, lunch and transfer.
If you have a non-drinking driver or enough time for long stops, rent a car and take a trip on the Alsace Wine Route. Along the route you’ll come across many wineries and wine cellars, and the charming villages of Alsace host wine festivals all October. In search of the perfect champagne you can follow the special “Champagne Route” or visit the 400-year-old winery Aspasie, where the owner will give you a free tour of his estate. You won’t be able to resist the temptation to buy a bottle or two of his wonderful Brut de Fût or Brut Cépages d’Antan.
The history of wine making in Italy goes back thousands of years. Today grapes are grown all over the country, but the most famous winegrowing regions are Lombardy, Trento, Friuli, Piedmont and of course Tuscany. Tuscan Frescobaldi farms delivered their wines to the royal court in the fourteenth century. Fortunately, these days you don’t need to be a blueblood to visit these wineries and taste the local Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and grappa vodka. A few years ago Sting bought the Tuscan estate and now produces organic wines with poetic names like When We Dance and Message In A Bottle, which can be purchased in the store at the musician’s villa Tenuta il Palagio.
In recent years, Sicilian wines have been gaining popularity – white Cataratto, Grillo, Carricante, red Nerello, Frappato, Perricone, and fortified wine Marsala, the signature drink of Sicily, which is best tasted at the Florio family winery. If you find yourself in northern Italy, don’t miss the colorful town of Merano to visit the Kränzel wine house with its labyrinthine garden or the grand wine festival of Merano.
The ancient traditions of Georgian winemaking and hospitality as a national trait make Georgia an ideal country for wine tourism. In Kakheti, the heart of Georgian winemaking, you can already find road signs that say “wine route,” which does not prevent you from building your own route as well. Tsinandali, Napareuli, Gurjaani, Alaverdi, Telavi, Alazani Valley – a simple map will easily tell wine lovers where to stop. Don’t miss the cozy colorful town of Signagi with picturesque, almost Tuscan landscapes and magnificent views of the Alazan Valley. The local beauty and wines once so delighted American artist John Wurdeman that he opened his own winery, Tears of the Pheasant, in Signagi. It has a wine cellar in the basement, a tasting restaurant on the first floor, and the owner’s art gallery on the first floor.
Around the beginning of September to early October in Kakheti you can participate in the harvest festival, Rtveli, to which Georgians come as a family. You will be given a pruner, a huge basket and sent to the fields, and in the evening you will be invited to join the traditional festive feast with folk songs, toasts, dances and delicious Georgian food. And also an autumn trip to Georgia is a great opportunity to eat plenty of fresh churcheli – delicious Georgian sweets made of grape juice and nuts.
The most famous wines in Portugal are the young green wine Vinho Verde, which is most often served as an aperitif, and the table wines of the fertile Douro Valley, including the famous port wines. In Alto Douro, grapes are harvested from September to October, and everyone is welcome to participate in the harvest. And at the luxurious Aquapura Douro Valley Wine Spa Hotel, you can take a “winemaker’s course” and create your own wine, from blending the wines to corking the bottle and labeling. When traveling through the valley, don’t miss the port of Vila Nova di Gaia with its famous wine cellars and warehouses. And of course, don’t forget to check out the many winemaking villages and “quinta” wineries along the way.
In early September you can go to Madeira to bask on the beaches and catch a noisy wine festival, where you can not only taste the famous Madeira, but also participate in its preparation. If independent tourism burdens you, the Portuguese wine agencies are always happy to help with the organization of wine tours.
Autumn in Hungary is full of wine festivals: in September there is the international wine festival at the Buda Castle in Budapest and a wine festival in Budafok with a parade, a ball and the grape harvest, and in October the wine days in the Mor region with live music and fireworks. The Tokay region with its welcoming wineries and famous Tokay wines is not to be missed. Taste the noble tokajas of the family winery Tokaj Kikelet pince, descend into the cellars of Dereszla Castle or spend a couple of days in the charming Hotel Böne Vendégház és Borozó with its own cellar, where the hospitable owners conduct tastings.
A special feature of Hungary are the “cellar villages”, where the owners of vineyards line up their cellars in tight rows with similarly styled presses and invite visitors to taste the local wines. The largest of these is the Swabian village of Hajos in the south of the country, Monor village, 30 km from Budapest, has about 960 cellars and Leanvar village near Sioagard is right on the Sexard wine route, famous for its red wines, including the unique “Sexard Kadarka”.
6. Czech Republic
Every year, starting on September 11, it’s “Czech wine season,” as surprising as that may sound to those for whom the Czech Republic is steadily associated with beer. This is the best time to head east to the lush vineyards of Moravia, where numerous wineries are starting to harvest their grapes. The Smrčka wine cellar offers not only wine tasting and a walk through the vineyards, but also comfortable accommodations, and at the Roman Polak family winery you can get a “winemaker in the field” certificate.
Just twenty kilometers from Prague is the fairytale town of Mělník. The foundations of the local wine-making tradition were laid in the early Middle Ages and finally formed in the 14th century, when Burgundy vines were brought to Melnik. The famous local wines Ludmila and Chateau Melnik are hardly inferior in taste to the best Burgundy wines. Every year in late September during the Vinobraní wine festival there is a three-day grape harvest festival with costume parades and wine tastings.
The Cyprus Tourism Organization has developed several ready-made wine itineraries for local wine lovers. All you need to do is to rent a car, get a guidebook from one of the tourist offices and drive along the roads of Cyprus paying attention to the brown road signs with bunches of grapes and the name of the route.
The most ancient wine in Cyprus is the sweet amber-colored wine Kommandaria, which was produced in the early 13th century by the knights of the Hospitaller order. In addition to the wineries, following the route of the Kommandaria it is possible to visit the village of Lanyou and the birthplace of wine Kommandaria – the medieval castle of Kolossi. At 10 km from the castle, in Limassol, a wine festival takes place from the end of August to the first week of September. With a 6 € admission ticket you can taste thousands of different wines for free and even participate in a festive grape crush.
A wine tour of Moldova is the perfect combination of price and quality. And Russian citizens do not need a visa for such a trip. Every second Sunday of October the country celebrates theNational Wine Day, during which you can get acquainted not only with wine production, but also with barrels, jugs and other wine accessories, and of course taste the best Moldovan wines and dishes.
Most of Moldova’s vineyards are planted with vines of European and Caucasian varieties. A small part of local sorts of grapes with resounding names like fetyasca white, fetyasca regale, viorica, the wines from which you can taste only in Moldova. The Moldovan wine routes are the 200 kilometers long cellars of the Small Milesesti with the largest wine cellar in the world, the underground wine town Cricova with millions of liters of wine, the elite wines of Purcari Manor, the National Viticulture and Wine College in Stavcini with a rich wine collection and the Branesti Maze, where you can taste the traditional local dishes during wine tasting.
When traveling along the wine routes of Spain, the first place to visit is Rioja, a region famous for its red wines, which have been produced there since the end of the 19th century. The famous “Battle of the Wines” takes place in summer, but in the second half of September in Logroño, the capital of Rioja, the colorful wine festival of San Mateo is held. The program includes wine fountains, dancing in barrels of grapes, a costume parade, a barbecue in the street and even a bullfight.
If you find yourself in the northwest of the country, check out the family winery Bodegas Vega Sicilia in Valbuena de Duero. A trip to Barcelona can be combined with a day trip to the Pares Balta winery or to the Jean Leon winery, whose fields were once planted with French vines, to taste the sparkling wine “cava” in the Freixenet winery or to buy a bottle of Clos Erasmus, the most exclusive wine in Catalonia.
Wine tourism in Russia is only gaining momentum, and, of course, first of all we are talking about the fertile land of Kuban. A few years ago the center of wine tourism was opened by the largest winemaking company of the Krasnodar region “Abrau-Durso”. As part of tours it offers to visit the legendary wine shop, enjoy the sunset from the terrace of the winemaker’s house, or go down into the old tunnels and wine cellars, built in the XIX century, when the estate belonged to the royal family.
Another direction of oenotourism in Kuban is “garage” wineries. Each guest at such farms will get a special reception, a homely atmosphere, and a pleasant conversation with the winemakers. You can try the wine on “wild yeasts” of the Antonenko family Winery, take a lesson on garage winemaking from Gennady Oparin, the owner of the Semigorje estate, listen to a lecture about the history of the Bosporan Kingdom and taste natural wines from Gennady Generalenko. To find the wineries of Kuban, there is even an application for smartphones, which can be downloaded from App Store and Google Play.published by econet.ru
13 the most unusual hotels in France
France is known for many things: fashion, exquisite culture, one of the best cuisines in the world. But a special place is occupied by the quirks that can be found everywhere, including hotels. If you are tired of the classic 5-star hotels with highly skilled staff and impeccable service, it is time to pay attention to the following 13 modern, unusual, sometimes even strange and at first glance totally unfit for habitation hotels.
La Villa Hamster, Nantes
If you ever looked longingly at the hamster cage and wanted to spin the wheel yourself, this hotel in the heart of Nantes is exactly what you need. At La Villa Chomik the rooms resemble a hamster cage with straw beds and wheels. One of the real working wheels is in the hotel lobby. Hotel guests are guaranteed to be fully immersed in a hamster skin: to get to the bed you have to climb a pipe and in the bathroom you can choose either a usual toilet or a floor of sawdust. Despite the unusual approach to recreation, hotel owners are not aware of the lack of customers.
2. Kube Boutique Hotel, Paris
Located near Montmartre in a 19th-century mansion, the hotel got its name for its hexagonal interior. And the main glass cube is in the hotel lobby and evokes associations with ice hotels in the icy Arctic. The hotel has an “ice room,” where you can sleep on a bed of snow covered with leather at -10 ° C, and an ice bar, for which 25 tons of ice was provided. If you want to feel more comfortable, you can choose from 40 other rooms, each individually decorated by modern French designers. A common feature of all the rooms, still reminiscent of the cold, is the bluish-purple color scheme.
3. the Seeko’o Hotel, Bordeaux
This hotel is not to be missed. Hotel Seeko’o is located by the sea in Bordeaux, in a historic 18th-century building with a bright white façade. It is decorated in a typical futuristic style. Today, it is a popular place among travelers on a wine tour of France. Seeko’o has 45 modern rooms with large French windows and black ceilings with a night sky effect. Guests can take advantage of free Wi-Fi, a sauna and hammam.
4. One by the Five, Paris
Sexy, bright and straightforward are three words that describe the One by the Five hotel in Paris. Named one of the city’s most romantic hotels, One by the Five is located in the colorful Latin Quarter and is just one five-room apartment with no markings, lobby or staff. Guests must check in at One by the Five across the street. One by Five is upholstered in velvet and decorated with giant art panels that depict close-ups of human body parts. The hotel even has a purple boudoir full of perfume bottles.
5. Le Bellechasse Boutique Hotel, Paris
Designed by fashion designer Christian Lacroix, LeBellechasse Hotel is an original combination of modern comfort and 19th-century imagery. Tucked away in a narrow alleyway in Paris’ Saint-Germain suburb, this boutique hotel is a delight.
6. Color Design Hotel, Paris
Vivid details against a white, minimalist interior is the main idea behind Color Design Hotel, which translates to “colorful design.” Between Place de la Bastille and Gare de Lyon, this 3-star hotel is located in the heart of the city. It offers 46 rooms at reasonable prices, which is surprising for one of the most expensive cities in Europe.
7. CristalBubble inflatable hotel, Mont Blanc
Rent an inflatable transparent bubble tent and set up just about anywhere in the south of France: from the hilly terrain of Mont Blanc to any beach. This CristalBubble inflatable is only 4 meters in diameter and offers its guests a double bed under the stars and a panoramic view. Originally designed for two guests, the “bubble” can be expanded slightly to add a small nursery.
8. Hotel Le A, Paris
The chic Hotel Le A is a collaboration between designer and architect Frédéric Meschich and artist Fabrice Hubert, whose ideas led to a minimalist boutique hotel design in a 19th-century townhouse, just a short walk from the Champs-Elysées and Arc de Triomphe. The hotel has 25 rooms, wit 9 suites decorated in free colors and necessarily adorned with one of the artist’s extraordinary works.
9. Hotel des Academies, Paris
Named by TripAdvisor as the third best hotel in Europe, the Hotel des Academies is located in one of the most creative neighborhoods. Paris, quite incorporated into the interior. Guests can choose between classic or art deco rooms decorated by artist Jérôme Menage and sculptor Sophie de Watrigan. The hotel is very elegant and inexpensive, but the original interpretation of modern art culture is worthy of personal appreciation.
10. Museumotel, Raon-L’Etap
This charming hotel, consisting of 9 unusual bungalows, located on an island in eastern France, strikes you with a surprisingly futuristic retro atmosphere with pop art pieces, as if you were here straight from the 60s. Bubble bungalows at the Museumotel overlooking the sea cost 55 euros a night.
11. the Mama Shelter Hotel, Paris
Located in a former garage outside the crowded tourist district of Paris, the Mama Shelter is a classic example of cheap, chic designer rooms at an affordable price. French designer Phillip Stark has given the hotel a cheerful look and youthful spirit, using decorative graffiti as bright accents or quirky details such as a superhero mask over the bed. The hotel bar is usually crowded at night, and Le Fleche d’Or concert hall is located across from the Mama Shelter.
12. Treehouse, Poitiers
Fulfill your childhood dreams by staying in a tree house where you’ll enjoy cozy comfort and modern amenities-a comfortable stay is guaranteed. The three treehouses at the entrance to the Domaine de Diène Village can accommodate 2 to 4 people each and offer guests views of the pond and horse corral. Each cottage has 4 beds (one double and two additional bunk beds), a dining area and a bathroom. In the woods there are another 13 big camping cottages (4 to 6 people) with two bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom with shower.
13. Villa Cheminée, Nantes
This stunning lighthouse guesthouse with a beautiful view of the Loire River was designed in 2009 by renowned Japanese artist Tatsu Nishi. Inside, there is enough space for a double bed, a fully equipped kitchen and a bathroom with shower and toilet – a total of 16m2. Surprisingly, at the top of the tower there is even a small garden, created by the artist based on the pipe of the neighboring power plant. You’ll pay 95 euros to stay at this hotel on weekdays and up to 115 euros on weekends.