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9 Mediterranean Spots to Wine and Dine

Escape to these wine-centric restaurants in coastal Spain, France, Italy, Croatia and Greece
Photo by: Courtesy of El Olivo Restaurante
El Olivo Restaurante boasts a Best of Award of Excellence–winning list in Spain's Hotel Belmond La Residencia.

Posted: June 21, 2018

Summer calls for a break from the ordinary, and there’s no better getaway than a European vacation. Each Mediterranean town offers its own unique character and culinary identity, creating wine and food experiences that are truly memorable. From Greece to Italy to Corsica, these nine Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners serve superior wine lists in pristine settings.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,700 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 91 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


Il Poeta Contadino
Il Poeta Contadino's owner Leonardo Marco also serves as chef, creating regional dishes from the historic town of Alberobello in southern Italy.

IL POETA CONTADINO
A cellar of wine gems in the countryside of Puglia
Via Indipendenza 27, Alberobello, Italy
(39) 0-80-432-1917
www.ilpoetacontadino.it
Open for lunch and dinner, daily, from September to July

Grand Award
Wine list selections 2,100
Inventory 23,000
Wine strengths Italy dominates wine director Cosmo Marco’s list, which also excels in Bordeaux, with deep verticals from big names like Châteaus La Fleur-Pétrus, Lafite Rothschild, Latour and Margaux.
Longtime wine leader Il Poeta Contadino earned the Best of Award of Excellence in 1995 before being promoted two years later to the Grand Award, which it has maintained ever since. Chef-owner Leonardo Marco has long been at the helm of this culinary destination.
Cuisine Marco treats seasonal ingredients simply but skillfully on his traditional Italian menu. First-course options include crispy prawns, and celery and potato cream. There are plenty of pastas, as well as larger plates like red mullet with mint vinaigrette and beef filet with olive cream.
Dramatic design The dining room has a fitting Old World Italian feel, with rustic stone walls, various antiques and intricate chandeliers that hang in the vaulted ceilings between archways. It’s reminiscent of the 14th-century limestone huts that line the streets of Alberobello, called trulli. More than 1,500 of these structures are spread across the town’s 27 acres, and the trulli are classified as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site.


Dani García Restaurante
Dani García Restaurante showcases innovative Spanish cuisine in an indoor-outdoor dining room surrounded by greenery.

DANI GARCÍA RESTAURANTE
An adventurous take on Spanish cuisine in Málaga
Puente Romano Beach Resort, Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso Von Hohenlohe, s/n, Marbella, Málaga, Spain
(34) 952-76-42-52
www.grupodanigarcia.com
Open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 565
Inventory 2,000
Wine strengths With a wine list full of Champagnes, crisp whites and red Burgundies, wine director Israel Ramírez aims to enhance the regional cuisine without overpowering it. Spain, especially Sherry, is another strong section on the list, followed by Bordeaux and Italy.
Cuisine Chef Dani García emphasizes the contrast of textures and flavors in his Spanish dishes. The highly seasonal menu incorporates avant-garde components such as smoked eel shavings and frozen tomato powder.
Luxurious surroundings The restaurant is part of Puente Romano, an upscale beach resort on the southern coast of Spain that includes a private golf course, four tennis courts, three outdoor swimming pools and many more amenities.
Deep domestic vertical Dani García Restaurante has a particularly impressive collection of Bodegas Vega Sicilia, featuring 15 vintages of Vega Sicilia Ribera del Duero Unico going back to 1962 ($2,584).


Dionysos Restaurant - Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas
The outdoor patio at Dionysos creates a beautiful backdrop for enjoying the 1,150-selection wine list.

DIONYSOS
A beachside destination restaurant in Crete named after the god of wine
Elounda Beach Hotel, 720 52 Elounda, Crete, Greece
(30) 2841-063-000
www.eloundabeach.gr
Open for dinner, Wednesday to Monday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,150
Inventory 15,000
Wine strengths Wine director Marios Nikiforidis oversees the wine list, which champions Greek selections and also excels in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and Italy.
Cuisine The French-leaning Mediterranean menu from chef Albert Hazma includes dishes like beef tartare, poached eggs with parmesan crumble and truffle, and sweetbread with saffron and asparagus fondant. Chef Hazma also develops weekly tasting menus.
Wine and dining hotspot Dionysos is located in Elounda Beach Hotel, which houses three other Best of Award of Excellence winners: Thalassa, Blue Lagoon and Argonaut.
Romantic backdrop The restaurant sets the scene with a wood-burning fireplace in the dining room and an outdoor patio shrouded in trees, plus live music.
Superior by-the-glass program Dionysos presents 100 wines by the glass from international regions such as France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Australia and more.


Due Cigni Il Ristorante
Due Cigni Il Ristorante features an adjacent wine shop so guests can enjoy the cellar’s wealth at home.

DUE CIGNI II RISTORANTE
Classic wines in a contemporary setting in a small Marche town
Viale Europa 71, Montecosaro Scalo, Italy
(39) 0-73-386-5182
www.duecigniristorante.com
Open for lunch, Tuesday to Sunday, and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,010
Inventory 10,050
Wine strengths Italy stands out among wine director Silver Frati’s selections, especially Piedmont and Tuscany. There is also a substantial array of Burgundy and other French wines.
Cuisine Chef-owners Rosaria and Sandro Morganti serve vegetable-forward regional dishes, as well as several tasting menus.
High-end Burgundy verticals The wine list offers seven grand cru verticals from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, as well as several other grands crus from the region’s top producers.
Modern atmosphere in an ancient town Due Cigni II Ristorante has white-washed walls and a sleek, minimalistic design. This creates an intriguing contrast with the colorful cuisine, and a change of pace from the traditional aesthetic of the surrounding town. The restaurant is set in the Marche region’s Macerata province, about five miles from the Adriatic coast of Italy.


El Olivo Restaurante
Find pristine views and a world-class wine list at El Olivo Restaurante.

EL OLIVO RESTAURANTE
A 16th-century olive press–turned-restaurant in Mallorca
Hotel Belmond La Residencia, Son Canals, Deia, Illes Balears, Mallorca, Spain
(34) 971-636046
www.belmond.com/la-residencia-mallorca
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 470
Inventory 5,750
Wine strengths With a wine list that excels in Spanish selections, wine director Antoni Bujosa hopes to introduce diners to the country’s most exciting labels. France and Italy are also very well represented.
Cuisine Chef Guillermo Mendez presents the local cuisine of Mallorca with ingredients sourced from the area and the restaurant’s own garden. Chef Mendez’s classic dishes include monkfish sautéed with citrus and baked rack of lamb in olive crust with rosemary sauce.
Quintessential Mediterranean feel A candlelit terrace overlooking the Balearic Sea creates an atmosphere that embodies coastal Mediterranean dining.
Well-aged Spanish selections The wine list offers considerable depth in Spain, with aged bottles from producers like Abadia Retuerta, Raimat and Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta going back to the 1980s.


La Gaffe
La Gaffe offers a moderately priced wine list of 800 selections.

LA GAFFE
Local food and wine on the French island of Corsica
Quai Des Pêcheurs, Saint Florent, France
(33) 04-95-37-00-12
www.restaurant-saint-florent.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 800
Inventory 8,000
Wine strengths Owner Christophe Chiorboli also serves as head sommelier, showcasing an exceptional collection of Corsican labels that spans eight pages. The program is similarly strong in other French regions, especially Burgundy and Champagne.
Cuisine Chef Yann Le Scavarec works with high-end local products to promote the island’s unique culinary identity. Though a prix-fixe menu is available Friday to Sunday, there are à la carte options such as smoked salmon with mussels, butter-roasted lobster and suckling pig.
Crash course on Corsica The wine list begins with a breakdown of Corsica’s nine appellations, each with an explanation of the vineyards and the character of the wines.
Built from personal passion Chiorboli has been surrounded by fine food and wine since his parents opened a restaurant in the 1990s. The cellar that now houses La Gaffe’s inventory was originally designed for Chiorboli’s private collection, which he started more than 20 years ago.


Monvinic
A 25,000-bottle cellar supports the 3,500-label wine list at Monvinic in Barcelona, Spain.

MONVINIC
A wine culture hub in the heart of Barcelona
Carrer de la Diputació, 249, Barcelona, Spain
(34) 932-726-187
www.monvinic.com
Open for lunch, Tuesday to Friday, and dinner, Monday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 3,500
Inventory 25,000
Wine strengths Wine director Isabelle Brunet manages the massive wine list that shines in France—especially Bordeaux and Burgundy—as well as Spain, Italy, Australia, California, Germany and Portugal.
Cuisine The Catalan menu has several sharable plates such as beef shank, pullet and duck, as well as smaller vegetable and seafood dishes. Chef Ariadna Julian has worked in various top fine-dining kitchens including Grand Award winner Le Taillevent in Paris.
Multifaceted space In addition to the restaurant, Monvinic includes a library, wine bar and tasting room that’s also used for conferences and presentations. It’s located in Barcelona’s Eixample district, a short walk from major attractions like the famous La Rambla street and Plaça de Catalunya. The goal is to create a place for tourists and locals alike to learn, discuss and enjoy wine.
Wine-professional proprietor Owner Sergi Ferrer-Salat is the co-owner and co-director of Ferrer Bobet, a Priorat producer.


Restaurant 360 Dubrovnik
Set on the ancient walls of Dubrovnik, Restaurant 360 Dubrovnik provides some of the best sea views in the city.

RESTAURANT 360 DUBROVNIK
Modern Mediterranean fare on the Croatian coast
Sv. Dominika Bb, Dubrovnik, Croatia
(385) 20-322-222
www.360dubrovnik.com
Open for dinner, Tuesday to Sunday

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 445
Inventory 3,720
Wine strengths In the past year, wine director Rudolf Papac increased selections by more than 100 to encompass labels from around the world, with standouts from Croatia and France, particularly Bordeaux. A team of five sommeliers helps guide guests to the right bottle.
Cuisine Chef Marijo Curic changes dishes seasonally to accentuate Croatian ingredients. The seafood-centric menu includes pan-seared scallops, turbot with cauliflower cream and lamb three ways.
Historic setting The restaurant is located within the massive stone walls—completed in the 16th century—that surround the city of Dubrovnik.
Spot for sampling Nearly 60 selections are available by the glass or in 100ml “tastes,” including higher-end picks poured by Coravin.


Matsuhisa Mykonos
Matsuhisa Mykonos serves stellar French and Greek wines in a picturesque setting.

MATSUHISA MYKONOS
Renowned Asian cuisine and an approachable wine list
The Belvedere Hotel, School of Fine Arts District, Mykonos, Greece
(30) 2289-027-362
www.belvederehotel.com
Open for dinner, daily, from May 11 to Oct. 9

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 200
Inventory 5,000
Wine strengths Wine director Kostas Alexiou restructured the list in 2009 to make it less technical and more user-friendly. The program highlights France and Greece, covering a wide range of major regions.
Cuisine Sushi, sashimi and larger Asian entrées are available à la carte on chef Nikos Skamnakis’ menu, but the restaurant suggests ordering the seven-course omakase for a complete culinary experience.
Accessible cellar Guests are welcome in the 430-square-foot cellar, where they can participate in wine tastings or browse a library of wine magazines from around the world.
Legendary founder The man behind the concept, chef Nobu Matsuhisa, is known for his international high-end Japanese chain, Nobu. The Hong Kong location holds the Best of Award of Excellence. His Mykonos concept is a partnership with brothers and restaurateurs Nikolas and Tasos Ioannidis.


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