When The Destination Is In The Bottle: Altaya Wines Uncorks The Best Cellar Doors To Visit This Summer
Summer holidays are just around the corner and there is no better way to explore, taste and become immersed in a destination than through its cellar doors. From Bordeaux to the Napa Valley, Altaya Wine’s Managing Director Paulo Pong shares his personal tips on the best wine destinations to visit this summer.
Bordeaux in South West France is Paulo’s hot pick because while it is home to a plethora of the world’s best wineries while also being one of the most welcoming and accessible wine regions to visit.
“A visit to Chateaux Mouton Rothschild on the left-bank should be high on the itinerary and is a cultural destination. At Mouton, visitors can try first growth wines while they stand on the same soil they were produced from. Mouton is also home to the ‘Museum of Wine in Art’ where ‘artists and art forms, cultures and religions bear resounding witness to the eternal and fruitful dialogue between art and wine.’ Adding to this, a brand new wine cellar has recently been built which in my opinion is the most beautiful cellar in Bordeaux,” he said.
According to Paulo, another good choice is Chateau Cheval Blanc on the right-bank, born in 1832, which is a meeting of heritage and modernity. “First growth Chateau Cheval Blanc wines are some of the finest you will find in the world. A visit to the cellar door is memorable because while the winery is one of the oldest in the region, the cellar door is controversially modern and has been said to look a bit like a space ship. Well worth seeing for yourself!” he said.
Chateau Haut-Brion just outside of Bordeaux dates back to 1533 and is one of the oldest estates in Bordeaux. Open to visitors by appointment, the vineyard is known for its unique terroir. The vineyard sits astride two mounds reaching 50 to 50 feet above the neighbouring streams that are composed of various kinds of quartz and other stones that are credited for defining Chateau Haut-Brion wines. A visit to this Estate is an opportunity to take a look at one of the oldest geologic sites of the region.
In nearby Italy, Tuscany should be a mainstay on any wine lover’s travel itinerary. A region full of tradition, which has evolved over time, Tuscany is home to come of the most loved red wines in the world.
Il Molino di Grace or ‘windmill of grace’, named after its historic 19th Century windmill, sits within the heart of Tuscany’s Chianti Classico region. At over 350 years old, the property breathes history, and was only opened to the public in 1999 when a state of the art winery opened its doors. Try the Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico for its heady aromas of black cherries, fresh earth and cedar.
Owned by wine industry icon Angelo Gaja, Ca’Marcanda which means ‘house of endless negotiations’ sits on the Tuscan seaboard on land that was once considered mere marshland. The winery concentrates on international grape varieties, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. A visit to Ca’Marcanda gives wine lovers an appreciation of the Tuscan history of winemaking and the ‘art’ of wine.
For those considering travelling to the USA this summer, the Napa Valley has a lot to offer as one of the top wine regions of the world, where fine wines sit alongside top class restaurants, spas and golf courses.
As picturesque as they come is Fisher Vineyards which lies at the base of the Palisades Mountains, sloping gently toward the West and bordered by Simmons Creek. “Fisher Vineyards is a must-visit for the wine enthusiast with wines produced from Bordeaux varietals that show consistently distinctive characteristics,” said Paulo Pong.
“Fisher Wines are a sure Napa Valley favourite at Altaya Wines and it’s a special experience to be able to stand in the very cobble stone and loam soil that produces such high quality blends,” he said.
Araujo Estate is a historic and iconic Napa Valley vineyard was acquired by Latour owners in 2013. Originally planted in the 1880’s, it has a focus on organic fruits with wines synonymous with the words caliber, distinction and class. With more than 400 old olive trees, the Estate is equally as proud of its organic olive production as it is of its wine, the two having been farmed side by side in Europe since the birth of the wine industry. For a memorable experience, Paulo recommends tasting the Cabernet Sauvignons that have made the vineyard famous.
Opus One International is another vineyard that should make the itinerary, credited for elevating the Napa Valley to the international stage. The winery was born from a partnership between Baron Philippe of famous Bordeaux Winery Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Robert Mondavi in 1979.
“Opus One is an interesting vineyard because of its story. Born through the meeting of fine French wines and new-world Californian wines it marked a changing tide for the Napa Valley and really put the region on the map. The Estate is popular, so visitors need to make a reservation and I really recommend joining the ‘Double Vintage Tour and Tasting’ for an intimate and memorable experience. Or you may try a bottle of the approachable 2011 vintage available at Altaya Wines at $1180,” he said.
Wines from these top wine travel destinations are available through Altaya Wines, leading Hong Kong wine importer and distributor and exclusive agent of over 90 brands. Altaya Wines has one of the most extensive wine selections in Hong Kong, available ataltayawines.com