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5 of the best wine regions to visit by luxury yacht

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Corsica: the wine region for wine lovers

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Vineyard in Corisca

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

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Bolgheri, Italy : the finest Italian wine region

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 Bolgheri, Italy

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

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

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Vineyard in Portugal

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.

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