There can be little doubt about it, Europe produces the world’s finest wines. Although the new world regions are getting better all the time, wines from the classic regions of Europe quite simply set the standard and many of the methods used across South America, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand will have emanated from the northern hemisphere.
But which of the wine regions Europe has become so proud of are the very best? As with many topics we discuss here at Octavian, this can often come down to personal preference, but there are wine regions that constantly produce award winning vintages, and there is obviously the feedback from recognised experts and critics to bear in mind too.
We have years of experience when it comes to all things fine wine, so we have profiled the most spectacular wine regions of Europe for you to peruse. If you’re looking to go and sample the best European destinations when it comes to wine, these should most certainly be where you start.
French Wine Regions
You can’t really start anywhere but France when looking at the best wine regions in Europe. France makes simply superb red and white wines and there are a few areas in particular you should be heading for if you wish to see the region in all its glory and sample some of the very best.
Arguably the most famous location in the world in terms of wine, certainly with regard to red, is Bordeaux. Nestled in the south west of France, the region is vast and its various laws and regulations ensure that no shortcuts are taken and only premium quality wine leaves.
There are famous towns such as Saint-Emilion, from which the wine of the same name emanates and is trusted wine emanates, where you can enjoy a drink and also take in centuries of history and culture as well as many other beautiful villages.
World class wine has been made here since the 8th century and not much has changed on the vineyards since.
Similarly to Bordeaux, if you’re drinking Champagne then you know you’re drinking a premium product which has been produced in the world famous French region. It is illegal to call your sparkling white wine Champagne unless it has been made in the town, near Reims and just a short train journey from the country’s capital, Paris.
If bubbly is your wine of choice, then there is nowhere on the planet quite like Champagne and it is right up there at the top of the pile when it comes to French wine regions.
There are of course areas such as the Rhone Valley, Burgundy, Languedoc and the Loire which all produce beautiful wines every year, many of which go on to be fine vintages, but our picks simply had to be Champagne and Bordeaux due to the history of these towns and their consistent excellence.
Spanish Wine Regions
After France, there are few regions on the planet more respected for their fine wine production than Spain. Again, this is definitely more the case when looking at red wine and the following regions have built up the best reputation over centuries for producing the very best.
There are of course no prizes for guessing the region at the top of the list. La Rioja may well be a small region in northern Spain, but the rich and velvety red wines which emanate from it are known everywhere. This is mainly due to the abundance of Tempranillo grapes you will find there, but there can be no arguing with the production methods that take this noble fruit and turn it into the drinkable Rioja wines we all love.
Perfect with many a tapas dish, wines from La Rioja are just so versatile and any visit to Logrono is usually filled with just that making it a popular adventure among wine fanatics. Just head to the AVE and Alvia intercity trains and venture from there whilst taking in some quintessential Spanish scenery.
If you’re looking for a Spanish wine region that is a little different, you could head to Valencia. In addition to being one of the more popular tourist destinations after Madrid and Barcelona, it is one of the oldest wine producing areas in the country. Grapes have been grown here for wine since before the Neolithic era and the methods differ somewhat from those used in La Rioja.
All the wines from Valencia are aged for at least six months in specific casks making the wine quite unique. Look out for tipples such as Spartico Tempranillo when you’re in the area and we think you will find that it’s the perfect foil for classic Spanish dishes such as chorizo.
There you have it, Spain and France. The two most spectacular wine regions in Europe but with so many more destinations making great wines, from Italy to Portugal and even Czech Republic and even Hungary; this should just be the start of your adventures. Keep your eyes peeled from more guides just like this on everything fine wine related from the Octavian journal and remember you can contact us any time to discuss your wine cellarage needs.