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Best wine holidays for 2015: Greece, The Dordogne, Veneto and Galicia

The best trips for wine lovers in 2015, including wine trips in Northern Greece, The Dordogne, Veneto and Galicia. As recommended by wine industry experts.

NORTHERN GREECE

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Winemaker Jeneve Williams is responsible for sourcing and blending wines for Marks & Spencer

Where: I love Greece not only for its diverse and beautiful landscapes, but because of the wine discoveries I have made there. I went to Santorini on my honeymoon and now work in the islands and several regions on the mainland, but one of my favourite areas is the mountainous north.

Why? Greece is rich in wine history but is re-emerging as a wine region. The varietals are unique – my favourites are malagousia and xinomavro made by Thymiopoulos in Naoussa.

The vineyard tour: There is a gorgeous mountain-top village called Nymfaio and close by are the wineries of Naoussa where you can discover wines made from indigenous varieties. At Thymiopoulos vineyards in Trilofos, visitors can do a vineyard tour and tasting (€5) if booked five days in advance (00 30693 2064 161).

The restaurant: In Naoussa, around 90 minutes drive from Nymfaio, the best restaurant is Oinomageiremata (Dragoumi Stefanou 1, 00 30 233 202 3576). The name translates as ‘cooking and wine’ and it does some great local specialities such as bouyiourdi (cheese baked in a clay pot with tomatoes and peppers) and mantza (smoked pork). Dinner is around €25 per head.

The hotel: We stayed at a nymph-themed Nymfes B&B in Nymfaio, full of antiques and character. Luxurious doubles cost from around €90, B&B.

Get there: Ryanair (ryanair.com) flies from Stansted to Thessaloniki, around two hours’ drive away. Return fares start from £111. More info: visitgreece.gr


THE DORDOGNE

Simon Cairns is category trading manager for wine at The Co-operative

Where: A landscape of sunflower fields, vineyards and châteaux makes the Dordogne captivating. The magnificent medieval town of Cahors is my highlight. The architecture is stunning, there is an amazing food market, and you can sample a glass of malbec from the appellation in its many pavement cafés.

Why? The Dordogne is surrounded by some of France’s less well-known wine appellations, such as Cahors, Pécharmant, Monbazillac and côtes de Duras.

The vineyard tour: Our trip to Château de Tiregand was the most memorable winery visit of the trip. Guided tours are available by appointment (€3.50) and the wines have the structure and finesse that you expect to find in Bordeaux, but with the additional fullness of fruit that is found in Bergerac. We came away with a case of the 2009 Château de Tiregand.

The restaurant: Le Recreation is a fantastic restaurant in the tiny hamlet of Les Arques. Treat yourself to the five-course tasting menu (€36) and a bottle of Château Lamartine Cuvée Particulière 2009 (€27).

The hotel: If you love to cook, hire a gîte in the small hamlet of Lacapelle-Biron from €340 per week for four (peyrounou.fr). Alternatively, Hotel Edward 1er in Monpazier has elegant doubles from €89.

Get there: Return flights from London City airport to Brive cost from £129 (cityjet.com). Info: tourismo-lot.com.


VENETO

Laura Jewell is a Master of Wine

Where: The sparkling wines of the Veneto reflect the spirit of the region – vibrant, lively, modern and celebratory. Once you head north from Venice into the hills, the scenery is wonderfully dramatic with vines on high trellises on impossibly steep slopes. The best wines come from the foothills of the Alps with the best exposure to the sun.

Why? The Veneto region of Italy is best known for producing the light, sparkling wines called prosecco, which are made using the native Italian glera grape variety.

The vineyard tour: Prosecco producer Bisolis near the idyllic village of Valdobbiadene. Set in rolling hills, the village is steeped in history and the winery’s regular tours of its cellar include a tasting of three wines (€27pp).

The restaurant: We visited nearby Locanda Marinelli for lunch after a hard morning’s tasting and were rewarded with the most delicious food – potato-based pasta with pumpkin sauce followed by a huge piece of steak cooked on an open fire served with roasted radicchio – a brilliant combination. Dinner €40 pp.

The hotel: A 30-minute drive from the winery, among winding roads, brings you to the tranquillity of the Hotel dei Chiostri in Follina. Beautifully furnished doubles cost from €125.

Get there: Ryanair flies from Leeds Bradford, Bristol, East Midlands and Stansted to Venice Treviso, around 40 minutes’ drive away. Other airlines fly from a range of UK airports to Venice Marco Polo airport.


GALICIA

Michelle Smith is wine buyer for Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Chile and Argentina at Sainsbury’s

Where: I visit Galicia (main image, above), north-west Spain, each year, and my favourite destination is Sanxenxo, a lively town with wonderful seafood restaurants. It’s on a well-marked regional wine route but, to get off the beaten track, try the fishermen’s neighbourhood and the campsites outside town; both are reminiscent of times gone by.

Why? Rías Baixas offers more than 20 grape varieties, but is most famous for its fresh, aromatic white albariño, a perfect match for the region’s seafood.

The vineyard tour: Martín Códax, outside Cambados, is one of the leading producers in the area, and the winery runs various visits and tastings, from 45-minute tours (€3) to day trips that pair vineyard trails with boat trips on the neighbouring estuary.

The restaurant: In Sanxenxo we had amazing puntillitas (baby squid), percebes (goose barnacles – a local speciality) and freshly-caught sea bass in Restaurante Carmen, set on the marina with idyllic views of the boats and the sea. It takes its name from the head chef, a lovely lady who popped out with our whole baked sea bass to say hello. Dinner is around €50 per head.

The hotel: I stay with friends when I’m there, but the place to book is the Gran Talaso Hotel Sanxenxo. It has the best views in Sanxenxo and the spa is excellent. Doubles cost from €54.

Get there: easyJet and Ryanair fly from London Stansted and Gatwick, respectively, to Santiago de Compostela, around an hour’s drive away. Return flights cost from around £60. More info: turgalicia.es

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Written in July 2014