From 10 to 17 May, I ran a food and wine tour in the north of Spain,visiitng 4 different wine areas; Rueda, Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra and El Bierzo
Our first winery visit was to Bodegas Barco del Corneta situated in the Rueda wine area. The winery, however is not in the appellation. We visited a wonderful vineyard planted in the early 20th century with Verdejo and Palomino vines and then went to the centuries-old cellars they have, to taste their superlative wines. These white wines are streets ahead of most of the other Rueda wines.
In Rías Baixas, we visited Pazo Baion, a beautiful estate surrounded by vineyards. Grapes in this area are trained on pergolas to avoid problems related to high humidity, as this area has a lot of rain. The wines that they bottle, which are all 100% albariño, are very good, especially for me the mineral-tasting Vides de Fontán.
The Ribeira Sacra is perhaps the most beautiful wine region in Spain with grapes grown on terraces set on impossible slopes. For this reason viticulture here is called heroic. For the third time, I visited Adegas Alguiera, which has a wide range of great wines made from quite a few grape varieties as can be seen in the photo below.
Not far from the winery, there are some great look out points where you can appreciate the vineyards going down to the Sil river.
We also took a wonderful one-hour boat trip on the river.
In El Bierzo, the homeland of the Mencia grape, we spent a whole morning with Marta Márquez. She is in charge of the family winery, Castro Ventosa. Raúl Pérez, her uncle, and César Márquez, her brother, are the winemakers. We spent several hours visiting vineyards of old bush vines in the vicinity of Valtuille de Abajo. In El Bierzo the average age of the vines is 75 years old!!, the oldest of any region in the world. There are some vines on sandy soils that were planted before phylloxera arrived in the area in the 1880s.
We had a fantastic tasting of the wines of Castro Ventosa and also 4 wines from César Márquez’s personal project.
In the photo below, you can see César’s beautiful winery which he continues to restore.
On this trip, as well as visiting wineries, we did historic tours of Salamanca and Ciudad Rodrigo and a brilliant roof tour of the Santiago de Compostela cathedral. We ate at great restaurants everywhere, including several places on the Galician coastline. I also took my clients to see Las Medulas, an amazing landscape that was created by the Romans who used released enormous quantites of water to cause erosion in their search for gold. I hope to be doing another tour in the north of Spain soon.