Last Chance? The Grand (Wine) Tour of Europe - Part 1

Last Chance? The Grand (Wine) Tour of Europe - Part 1

Published by Francis Elms on 30th Jan 2020

A proposed, last minute, vinous rush across mainland Europe - Starting in Portugal, then through Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Italy & back to the UK!

"BONG!" and I'm off to catch the ferry/plane to Euro land. Passport? Check (still need that). Cash? Who needs it these days? Phrase books? Use your smart-phone instead. 

But the all important question to ask is, "Will they let me in?" and, secondly, "Can I transport my wine purchases across all those now foreign borders?"

Let's start in Portugal... arrive in Lisbon... clear customs (thankfully), and collect the hire car. There's a lot of driving ahead!

Heading north, to the Douro valley, to the port house of Ramos Pinto, I'm here to collect some of their Duas Quintas red wine.

It's a silky wine with aromas of plum fruit and balsamic notes. The 3 grape varieties (from, you guessed it, 2 vineyards) give a concentrated palate of blackberries and liquorice. Ideal with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, or with sheep's cheese.

Priced at £12.50 a bottle

Following the Douro, over the border into Spain, I decide to stop off in Toro

Here, the wines are similar to Rioja. They are, after all, made from the same grape, Tempranillo (called Tinta de Toro, locally).

Ramon Ramos' "Parlaor" is typical of the area with ripe, red fruits along with roasted coffee and light smoke from the 5 months in oak.

I've got to get a couple of cases here. Such good value at £10.99 a bottle.

Deciding that a quick dip in the 'Med' is in order, I head south-east, after crossing the Pyrenees mountains into France.

After a last minute detour, to check on a possible new listing of Cahors Malbec, the drive eventually takes me to Chapoutier's amazing Bila-Haut property in the Roussillon.

The 94 point "Occultum Lapidem" is stunning for such a low price (£19.99) that I nearly filled the car with just this wine, but I was tempted to add a few really special bottles of the 95-97 point, 2014 vintage, 

Côtes-du-Roussillon Villages Lesquerde, "R.I." Rectificando Invenies

What a wine! 100% Syrah, rich treacle toffee flavours and a pure, mineral streak running through it that's just delicious. It's not cheap at £45 a bottle, but they only make 200 cases a year. 

Grab some if you can!

With such a long distance to travel to my next destination, I decide to ship my existing purchases back to the UK and catch a train through France, into Germany.

To be continued in "Part 2" ...

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