5 of the best wine regions to visit by luxury yacht

Corsica: the wine region for wine lovers

Some of the world’s finest wineries are tantalisingly accessible to superyachts as almost every wine region of note is influenced either by sea or by river.

Here is Jonathan Ray’s selection of five of the best wine regions to combine visits to vineyards and wineries while cruising on superyacht.

1 - Corsica

Corsica is a wine lover’s paradise and is an easy stop for Mediterranean cruisers. The bewitching island was known to the Ancient Greeks as Kalliste – “the most beautiful”: its snow-capped mountains and rugged granite hills – with perilously perched, terracotta-roofed villages – sweep down to flower-strewn meadows and pristine sandy beaches. And with the wind off the sea wafting through le maquis – the island’s colourful, herb-scented scrub – there’s a heady whiff of perfumed pepper in the air.

The island is also perfect wine-making region, thanks to its granitic, sandy soil, good drainage and elevation, and the sea. Corsica is as close to France as it is to Italy and the wines reflect this, being between the herb-tinged, aromatic wines of Provence and the deeper, earthier Italian ones. The main varieties are the red Niellucciu and Sciaccarellu, the white Vermentinu (aka Malvasia) plus, especially in the north, Muscat.

The best wineries and vineyards include Domaine Saparale near Sartène in the south west; Domaine de Torraccia near Porto-Vecchio in the south east and Domaine Pieretti (especially for its sweet Muscats), slap dab on the beach near Luri in the far north of the island.

Picture courtesy of Ben Sliman Hassan/Shutterstock.com

Bolgheri, Italy : the finest Italian wine region

On the Italian mainland, the medieval village of Bolgheri is squeezed between the Tuscan hills and the sea. Every child in Italy knows of the arrow-straight road (pictured above) that leads to Bolgheri, thanks to the verses Davanti a San Guido by 19th century poet Giosuè Carducci, which are learnt by heart at an early age and eulogise the three mile-long “sunlit green avenue” and its 2,500 sentinel-like cypresses “tall and true”.

Wine-lovers too know of Bolgheri, because of the 40 or so producers who create stunningly silky, supple and seductive red wines from the wine region’s 1,300 hectares of vineyards, the most celebrated of which are Ornellaia and its near-neighbour Sassicaia.

Here, the sea (only four miles away), the sun and the terroir all combine to make this tiny corner of Italy the perfect place to grow grapes and it’s remarkable to think that it has all happened so quickly. Bolgheri’s reds only achieved DOC status in 1994 and there are wineries in Australia older than here.

Picture courtesy of Stevan Zz/Shutterstock.com

Porto and the Douro Valley, Portugal : the wine region for foodies, too

Out on the Atlantic shores of Europe, Porto and the Douro Valley are absolute musts for wine lovers, especially now that Douro Marina (which can take yachts of up to 50 metres) has been completely refurbished. In coastal Vila Nova de Gaia, across the river from Porto, Graham’s Port Lodge boasts a fine restaurant and excellent tours. Nearby Taylor’s also runs a first-rate tour, followed by tastings in the elegant Library Room or outside on the terrace.

Down near the quay, Ramos Pinto is definitely worth a visit, not only for the cellars and tasting, but also for the fascinating museum, housed in Adriano Ramos Pinto’s former office, preserved as it was in the 1930s. For fine dining, head to Rui Paula’s DOP in the Palace of Arts in Porto’s historic area. I recommend the several-course Douro Menu with dishes such as caramelised apple stuffed with foie gras, and langoustine with calamari and beans.

Still in Portugal (sort of), the island of Madeira is home to a unique “cooked” style of fortified wine, all types of which can be tasted at Henriques & Henriques and the Madeira Wine Company, which owns Blandy’s, Cossart Gordon, Leacock’s and Miles.

Australia: the wine region nestled in the superyacht mecca

In Australia boats and bottles are plentiful supply. It is easy to see why the western coast around Perth is a superyacht mecca. Venture up the Swan River; head out to car-free Rottnest Island; spend a morning on Cottesloe’s sandy beach and an afternoon in bohemian Fremantle before heading south to Margaret River.

Here, where the Indian and Southern oceans meet, is wine and surf country and although Margaret River might only contribute a paltry three per cent of Australia’s annual wine production, it accounts for more than 20 per cent of the country’s premium vino.

Vasse Felix, the winery that started the Margaret River revolution in the late 1960s, goes from strength to strength. Match the exquisite wines with food in what is probably the finest cellar-door restaurant in the region. Leeuwin Estate’s Art Series Chardonnay has a claim to be the finest in Australia. Taste it and the rest of the range before Leeuwin’s shirt-popping five-course degustation menu.

Proudly biodynamic, carbon neutral and naturally powered, Cullen Wines is a true pioneer. Sip the exemplary wines overlooking the original vineyard and if you have room left, dine at five-star country retreat Cape Lodge, where culinary genius Tony Howell cooks legendary meals.

Picture courtesy of Janelle Lugge/Shutterstock.com

New Zealand: the wine regions closest to the sea

South Pacific explorers, whether chartering a superyacht in New Zealand or sailing there with your own superyacht, would be mad to overlook the viticulture, where no winery is more than 75 miles from the ocean.

Just 11 miles from Auckland, Waiheke Island is renowned for its scenery and as a retreat for artists, poets and those seeking a laid-back life. It is also home to increasingly fine wines.

Visit Cable Bay Vineyards and sip top wines while admiring the view of Auckland across the water; and drop in on picturesque Mudbrick Vineyard and Restaurant with its fabled gardens and restaurant.

For the broadest look at New Zealand’s wines take time off from your yacht and do the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, a self-drive tour that takes in regions accounting for 80 per cent of New Zealand’s wine production. It runs for more than 300 miles between art deco Napier on the North Island and Blenheim at the top of the South Island. If you’d prefer to stay aboard, stop in at Clearview Estate in Hawke’s Bay – one of New Zealand’s finest producers – lying within a cork-pop of the ocean and celebrated for its Red Shed restaurant. And don’t miss Brancott Estate Heritage Centre in Marlborough, which boasts first-rate winery tours and in-depth tastings, along with an excellent restaurant, where the twice-cooked Canterbury pork belly with apple and parsnip purée is worth the trip alone. Although when you’ve arrived by superyacht, getting there will hardly have been a chore.

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