A very last minute, vinous rush across mainland Europe - Starting in Portugal, then through Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Italy & back to the UK where the celebrations/commiserations begin!
On arrival at the Frankfurt "Hauptbahnhof" I immediately head off to the small Rheinhessen town of Nierstein. The Louis Guntrum winery is located right on the banks of the River Rhein and is home to some superb Riesling wines.
If a light, white wine is desired, an Oppenheimer Herrenberg Spatlese will fit the bill as either an aperitif, or paired with spicy, Asian food, or with fruity desserts. The versatility of Riesling!
Mango and pineapple fruit, juicy and intense, delicately sweet, but with balancing acidity. A great all-rounder that too few people are willing to try. You're missing out. You will like it, especially if bought by the case.
£19.50 will get you started into unravelling the, not so, mysterious world of the Riesling grape.
Ah, Vienna! Geographically, the equivalent drive of London to Edinburgh by road. Over 400 miles from Frankfurt and, luckily, most of the vineyards in Austria are in close proximity to such a beautiful city. A good place to stay for some serious culture
So, a short drive westwards from "Wien" brings me to the wine region of Kremstal which lies by the side of the Danube river.
Gruner Veltliner is the classic Austrian grape and Crazy Creatures is a really enjoyable example.
Very dry white with green pear fruit, white pepper spice and a touch of almond. Zesty and refreshing in a style loved by sommeliers the world over. The bottle actually comes in three differently labelled versions... all with "Crazy Creatures" on them.
£17.99 for whichever version you want to buy. As you can see, I went for the "Butterfly".
My last visit involves crossing the border close to Slovenia, taking the tourist route west, via Venice, Lake Garda, Milan and Turin, eventually arriving in the spectacular Italian hills of Piedmont; the home of Barolo and the Nebbiolo grape.
Pio Cesare certainly know how to handle this variety. The Langhe Nebbiolo is rich, full-bodied with notes of orange peel and plum. Sweet tannins make it a match with steak tartare, or gamey, mushroom dishes. Rated 92 points by critic, James Suckling.
Several cases of this great value red had to be shipped back to the UK. Their normal Barolo is more than twice the price of the Nebbiolo and the "single vineyard" wines are closer to £100 each. The Langhe Nebbiolo is just £27.50
No time for any further visits, so off to the airport for a rapid return to the delights of Birmingham on the last day in January, 2020.
I had to decide which wine to have to commemorate the "Grand Tour" and of course, it had to be the English sparkling supremo, Nyetimber Classic
The half-bottle is still from the 2010 vintage and is at its peak, right now. £17.99 a pop.
Flavours of lemons, brioche, honey and walnuts with a tiny stream of bubbles.
Not today, thank you!