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A Vintage Holiday

A camping trip is the perfect chance to sample some of the local produce, and in many regions that includes the local wines.

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Campsite owners and vineyard owners share a passion for their land, so if you’re staying in a wine region, you won’t have to go far to enjoy a tasting.

Why camping & wine?

Whether your travels take you to France, Spain, Italy or even further afield, the impressive views and tasty treats of the wine country are simple yet rewarding pleasures.Vast swathes of neatly planted vines dominate the landscape, punctuated by small villages, bodegas or châteaux and settling down on your first night with a sample of the latest vintage is the perfect way to begin your visit.

Many campsite owners have personal connections to wine production and regional wines are often served in the campsite restaurant. A tasting at the local vineyard is always a pleasant day out, and usually within walking or cycling distance of your campsite, meaning you can fully appreciate what the producers have to offer. Indeed, campers at Château de Montrouant (FR71060) in Burgundy will find the owner happy to deliver tutored wine tastings at his own organic vineyard, which he has been carefully tending for over a decade.


Bordeaux

Keen wine tasters will never be far from a tasty tipple in perhaps the most famous viticultural region in the world – Bordeaux. Home to some of the most prestigious wineries (think Château Mouton-Rothschild, Château Haut-Brion and Château Léoville-Barton) the district is celebrated for its rich, velvety reds, although the crisp fresh whites and exquisite dessert wines are not to be overlooked. A walk through the vineyards affords some excellent views, both of the surrounding landscape and the grand châteaux, while the town of Bordeaux itself offers impressive churches and bridges, as well as some great market shopping.

More athletically inclined visitors can combine their trip with the Médoc marathon, held in early September. The route takes runners through the renowned vineyards, where they can keep their spirits up with a taste of the local wines as they go.

Yelloh! Village St Emilion (FR33080 – formerly La Barbanne) is situated just 2.5km for the famous town of St Emilion, perfect for leisurely strolls through the vineyards up to the town centre. Taste some of the ‘Grand Cru’ wines and take the time to unwind in this peaceful setting.


Bergerac

Located directly east of Bordeaux, the Bergerac region has been producing wine since Gallo-Roman times. The mild climate and fertile lands around the River Dordogne provide not only a peaceful landscape of green meadows, orchards and woodlands that make for idyllic walks, they are also the source of a diverse range of soils that accommodate a number of varietals including Cabinet Sauvignon, Merlot, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Perhaps the most recognised wines of Bergerac are those of the Monbazillac appellation. Some of France’s most delicious sweet wines are produced here from hand-picked grapes to ensure the highest quality.

Camping Village le Moulin Surier (FR24950) in the heart of the region is a great base for local trips. Bergerac is just a short distance from the site, and a visit to nearby Château Montbazillac is rewarded with a complementary wine tasting.


Loire

As well-known for its wine as it is for its châteaux, the Loire is an excellent place to enjoy stunning architecture, sultry sun and a glass of one of the region’s refreshing, dry whites. The lazy flow of the Loire river from the hills of Auvergne to the Atlantic Ocean sets the pace for a relaxing stay and a wander around the historic towns and their châteaux. Some of the most popular wines of the area include Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, and reds are often spicy and tannic, fully meriting a taste if the opportunity arises.

The wines of this region range from light, sharp Muscadet to honeyed Bonnezeaux. Vouvray’s white wines sparkle while Chinon and Saumur are known for their meaty, tannic reds. The town of Angers in Anjou is known mainly for its rosés, based on the Cabernet Franc grape, including Rosé d’Anjou and Cabernet d’Anjou.

The Loire proudly produces white wines with key grapes Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne and Chardonnay. The quality of its reds is ever-increasing, with Cabernet Franc being the primary  grape variety. Lighter-bodied wines are also made from Pinot Noir and Gamay.


Rioja

It’s almost impossible to think of Spanish wine without thinking of Rioja. With a history of winemaking that spans almost 1,000 years, the region is most famous for its reds and rosés, although there are some expressive whites to be found.

There’s nothing better than drinking a wine while looking out at the landscape where it’s produced. Rioja’s mountain ranges, rivers, and the vineyards themselves, offer some superb scenery to complement the elegance of the region’s wines.

Visitors staying near Haro at the end of June might find themselves taking part in the town’s wine festival, which culminates before noon in a ‘battle of wine’, where locals throw wine on each other until they are drenched from head to toe. Camping de Haro (ES90400) provides a good spot for wine enthusiasts, whether you choose to take part in the festival or not. The site is ideally situated for visiting
the bodegas and is open almost all year round.


Chianti

One of Tuscany’s greatest treasures, and not just because of its wine, Chianti is a region of gently undulating hills, stone villages and leafy vineyards. Lying between Siena in the south and Florence in the north, it is a place of culture, tradition and fine cuisine with an easy way of life that provides the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind from the pressures of the daily rat race. Booking onto one of the region’s wine trails will give you some insight into the wine-making process as well as a chance to discover the produce first-hand. Offering panoramic views of the Chianti hills, Camping Colleverde (IT66245) is ideally located for such trips as well as visits to Siena.

To earn the name Chianti, the local wines must be produced using at least 70% Sangiovese grapes, which give them their black and red cherry notes. Enjoy a glass with a wild duck dish or roast beef in Madeira sauce.


A glossary of useful wine terms

  • Blanc: White
  • Blanc de blancs: Sparkling wines made only from Chardonnay grapes.
  • Brut: Dry, sparkling wine.
  • Château or Domaine…: Wine estate (domaines are generally smaller)
  • Clos: An enclosed vineyard
  • Crémant: An AOC sparkling wine from a French region other than Champagne.
  • Cru: A term aplied to classified vineyards, villages or wine estates.
  • Cuvée: A blend of wines or batch of wine.
  • Grand cru: A region’s highest quality vineyard.
  • Grand cru classé: A wine estate classified as top property.
  • Grand vin: An unregulated term that often means a vineyard’s best wine.
  • Premier cru: A top vineyard area of wine estate, though less prestigious than a grand cru.
  • Réserve: suggests good quality, but is an unregulated term.
  • Rouge: Red
  • Sec: Used in sparkling wine and denotes a slightly sweeter classification of brut.
  • Vieilles vignes: Old vines, again an unregulated term.
  • Vin de pays: A French country wine. The zone where the grapes grew will also be listed.

Find out more about Loire Wines and how to use our Wine map here.


Image credits: Château Léoville-BartonChâteau Haut-Brion & Château Mouton-Rothschild


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