Discover the special flavours of eight coastal vineyards as selected by master of wine Rebecca Gibb
Better known for its lavender, olives and dance beats, the slender frame of Hvar also lends itself to wonderfully perfumed wines. This is an island of indigenous grape varieties that are difficult to pronounce but easy to drink. British Master of Wine and winemaker Jo Ahearne first started making wine here in 2014.
‘Sipping the local wine connects you with this aromatic island,’ says Ahearne. ‘Somehow, the wines echo this, giving a real sense of place: alongside the fresh lemon zest of the native Bogdanuša grape, you also smell the wild fennel that’s everywhere.’
You can taste Ahearne’s eponymous wines in situ, but for those who don’t want to leave their yacht or the action in Hvar town, Ahearne will bring the tasting to you.
Drop anchor at the exquisite Porto Cervo in the north-eastern corner of the island, where salty winds and the rugged, rocky landscape combine to make Sardinia’s most respected white wine: Vermentino di Gallura.
Foodies should look to visit before the high season starts: Porto Cervo’s annual wine festival in May offers a gourmet introduction to the island. And if that leaves you thirsty for more, take the short drive over to Vigne Surrau, where you’ll receive a masterclass in the Vermentino grape’s many personalities, from sparkling to still, dry to sweet.
The views of Barcelona and the sparkling Mediterranean are hard to beat from the ridgeline of Alta Alella. Just 20 minutes’ drive from the world-class Port Vell marina, this organic wine producer makes still wine and Cavas that sate the most environmentally and health conscious drinkers, and also holds yoga classes in the vineyard. Try its savoury Capsigrany Cava or salty vintage Bruant.
The powerful, minerally white wines made from the Assyrtiko grape, hewn from volcanic soils of Santorini, are a must-have with Michelin-star sommeliers. At its very widest, Santorini is 5km across and, with a coastline of almost 70km, the sea plays a crucial role in the island’s viticulture.
Gaia Wines stands on the shores of the Aegean Sea in a stone building. At the water’s edge, you can discover the island’s unique basket method for pruning and training vines and awaken your senses with its luminous wines paired with traditional delicacies.
Vines put down their roots along the Côte d’Azur centuries before Brigitte Bardot arrived and turned this quiet fishing village into the place to be seen. Rosé is king here, and glasses of pale Provençal pink are the hottest item on drinks lists. But there’s far more to this area than yachts, lavender and rosé, explains Sonia Ferchaud, who runs Saint-Tropez-based tour company Beyond the Wine.
‘More and more winemakers are diversifying and making beautiful whites from grape varieties including Rolle [aka Vermentino] and Clairette, as well as generous and fruity reds.’ She recommends visiting some of the very best estates in the area, including the elite band of domaines that were ranked as ‘cru classé’ in 1955. Overlooking the Saint-Tropez peninsula, Château Minuty marries a long family tradition of winemaking with Mediterranean chic just 10 minutes’ drive from the beach.
Park your perceptions of Provence as a pink producer at the port of Bandol. The muscular Mourvèdre grape has made its home here, basking in the heat of the Mediterranean sun. This is quintessential Provence: olive trees have ripened their crops alongside vines since Greeks showed up in Bandol more than 2,000 years ago; while the scent of garrigue hangs in the air, abuzz with the chirrup of crickets.
Nicholas Oakes, both a wine expert and a local, suggests a trip to Bandol’s most famous producer, Domaine Tempier; although it’s hard to beat the historic Domaine Souviou to trace the area’s grape- and olive-growing roots. Before heading back to the mooring, make a stop at the town’s best wine shop, Les Caves de la Poste, to choose a few bottles of the region’s finest to add to your collection.
Waiheke, New Zealand
Among the waters of the Hauraki Gulf is Waiheke, the island of wine. Less than an hour from Auckland, idyllic Man O’ War Bay has given its name to the excellent winery that now surrounds its clear waters. Vineyards rise steeply from the shoreline, coating its rocky ridges in green foliage.
While you’re in Kiwi waters, head south to the Marlborough Sounds for its exuberant Sauvignon Blanc. A wine train journeys between the port of Picton and the centre of Marlborough’s vineyards, but there’s no better way to appreciate the region’s landscape than the view from a helicopter.
Margaret River, Australia
Augusta Harbour is the new safe haven for boats navigating the rugged Cape Leeuwin, the south-western tip of the Australian mainland. It also provides the perfect stopping point for wine-lovers wishing to explore the small but perfectly formed Margaret River region. Antarctic currents and bracing westerlies allow locals to make crisp white Sauvignon/Semillon blends, Chardonnay to rival Burgundy, and red Bordeaux-like cuvées.
There are more than a dozen producers to visit whose wines could rightly be called world class, including the region’s founding estate Vasse Felix.
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