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In collaboration with James Lawther MW and Jeremy Shaw, Fine Vintage has put together another all-star trip to some of the greatest wineries in Rioja and Castile. In the warm Spanish fall, right around harvest, the tour will introduce you to stunning architectural wonders both ancient and modern, take you inside a bodega for a Michelin star dinner, and present a series of winemaker lunches at iconic estates like Pesquera and Remelluri. It’s not all wine all the time. You will also visit some of the landmark Spanish cultural sites such as the Alcazar in Segovia, and Burgos Cathedral.
The Pesquera Hotel opens its doors in the heart of one of the most important wine-growing regions of Spain, by the Castle of Peñafiel, the town's icon and home to the wine museum. Boutique hotel and true monument for the enjoyment of the senses, it offers its visitors an unforgettable experience in a very exclusive atmosphere. Located only 180 kilometers away from Madrid, in an old industrial building with a strong personality, in a characteristic early 20th century style; its decorative eclecticism becomes a homage to art, to reveries and, above all else, to good taste. At the Pesquera Hotel in Peñafiel, emotion has an owner: you.
These rooms can be altered to suit any requirement or need. They can be converted into single rooms and some of them, into triple rooms. With their sober and elegant atmosphere and exclusive design elements, you will become the leading character.
Four lofts and the premium loft "El Castillo" (the castle), all of them designed on two floors, creating a cozy atmosphere in a Scandinavian style. Dreamy spaciousness.
Five special rooms decorated in black and white, with floral patterns combined with the original rustic elements. Each one of them named after a famous novel: Seda (silk) or El Amante (the lover). Romanticism makes sense.
There are two suites with living-room and double sofa-bed. Unique, original, each one of them with its own name , a book title that tells its story: Bomarzo or El Gatopardo (the leopard).
They couldn't be left out. In a place where the atmosphere invites you to find your inner self and to enjoy, a broad concept dedicated to taking care of the body couldn't be left out. A whole world to dive in and pamper yourself. With a fully-equipped fitness area and "Al Agus Sana", a treatment pool open to those who, without denying themselves anything, know how to demand everything from themselves. An incredible conception of space and stone integrates the reflections of water in the room, generating an evocative effect. Large windows provide the natural light that enhances every original detail.
- 32-inch TV with international channels
- Access to the swimming pool of Villabuea de Álava, next to the hotel
- Complimentary still and sparkling water
- DVD player and movies in various languages
- Electronic safety box
- Free bicycles
- Free gym access
- Free internet access (Wi-Fi or LAN)
- Free parking
- Hair dryer and vanity mirror
- Individually controlled air-conditioning and heating
- Lounge exterior with views to the Mountains of Cantabria
- Minibar with wine from the region (Designation of Origin)
- Restaurant Viura
- Turn down service
- Underfloor heating in the toilet
- Wine tasting at bar Viura - exclusive wines from the region and wine shop
- Wine tasting with an expert sommelier
14 rooms carefully decorated in an excellent environment, some of them with views of the quaint streets of Villabuena de Álava, the church of San Andrés or the mountains of Cantabria on the horizon, and some others more spacious than the Viura rooms, so you can truly enjoy your stay.
Very elegant and spacious rooms with comfortable bathrooms boasting a separate bath and shower, a separate living room and a private terrace with stunning views of the quaint village of Villabuena de Álava and the mountains of Cantabria. The suites offer the highest level of equipment and service. Other available amenities:
- Blu-ray player
- Nespresso and complimentary coffee
- Private terrace
15 spacious rooms beautifully decorated that offer the guest a balance of perfect comfort and unobtrusive luxury.
With his privileged relationships with Spain’s top producers, James Cluer, MW, has personally designed this tour to provide you with unique access that goes beyond other wine tours. See the beauty of Spain and learn the history of this amazing region that attracts visitors from all over the world. This is the ultimate wine connoisseur's tour of Spain, and offers the very best food and wine experience for anyone who loves wine. You will meet the mother and daughter duo winemakers at José Pariente and taste a flight of their beautiful wines from the verdejo varietal. You will spend two days visiting some of the icons of this region, including a memorable lunch with Alejandro Fernandez, owner of the pioneering Pesquera, a visit to the ultra-modern Abadia Retuerta, and a tour and tasting of the cult wines of Aalto. Most of the estates you will visit are not open to the public. You will experience old vintage verticals at Remelluri and one of the organizer's favorite wineries in the world, López de Heredia.
You also visit and taste with Luis Cañas, Remirez de Ganuza, and Marqués de Riscal, and enjoy a Michelin-starred dinner at Martinez Bujanda’s Valpiedra. It doesn't get better. You will finish off by driving to the coast for a visit and tasting of the unique txakoli wines of Talai Berri and a blow-out seafood lunch overlooking the ocean before wrapping up in Bilbao. It’s not all wine all the time. You will also visit some of the landmark Spanish cultural sites such as the Alcazar in Segovia, and Burgos Cathedral.
Meet with James and Jeremy in the back of the lobby of the Westin Palace in Madrid at 09:45 (in the lounge area up the stairs from check-in). Board the luxury bus and you're off, with a little cava to kick start the tour. You will then drive to Segovia, about 90 minutes away. There, you will have a guided tour of the Alcazar, Segovia’s landmark fortress and stunning castle perched on the edge of a cliff. This was home to many of the kings of Spain. Walt Disney modeled his logo on the Alcazar.
After the Alcazar visit, you will enjoy a tasting of some of Spain’s icon wines and suckling pig lunch at Jose Maria restaurant, currently reckoned to be Segovia’s finest asador restaurant. Over lunch, James and Jeremy will introduce the big picture of Spanish wines and the various regions. Before lunch, you will have a tasting of Spain’s first growth, Vega Sicilia, and José Maria’s own white wine from Rueda and Pago de Carraovejas red from Ribera del Duero. It’s a good first lunch, punctuated by the arrival of the suckling pig, carved tableside for theatrical flair.
After lunch, you will visit the first winery in the small region of Rueda. José Pariente is one of the finest names in Rueda, a small modern family winery run by mother Victoria and her lovely daughter Martina. It's a chance to taste some excellent whites from the verdejo grape. This is a very unique varietal that is sometimes blended with sauvignon blanc, and makes delicious wines.
After the visit and tasting, you head off to the Hotel Pesquera, where you will spend the first two nights. After check-in and time to relax, you will have a casual tapas dinner with a selection of wines from the Pesquera estates together with some wines from other parts of Spain that you are not visiting on the trip, such as vintage cava from Catalunya and some rich, silky reds from Bierzo.
Have breakfast and at 09:30, you will depart the hotel and drive a short distance along Ribera del Duero’s golden mile to Abadia Retuerta. Abadia Retuerta showcases the winemaker as scientist in the grandest surroundings. The bodega is owned by Novartis and is based around a 12th century abbey at the heart of their estate. It is one of the most modern wineries in the world. You will take a close up tour of the estate. You will see vineyards that are over 100 years old, enjoy spectacular views of the region from up high on the hillside, and get schooled by your lovely guides.
The estate lies outside the DO boundary, and so it is permitted to make single varietals from Syrah, Cabernet and Petit Verdot, alongside the classic Tempranillo. You will taste a selection of single estate wines and the award winning Seleccion Especial, which has been ranked “best wine in the world” by Decanter at a major competition.
After Abadia Retuerta, you will go to one of the greatest names in Ribera, a cult winery called Aalto, for a very exclusive visit. Javier Zaccagnini and Mariano Garcia (the oenologist of Vega Sicilia for 30 years) make one of Ribera's finest red wines. They cultivate 42 acres of prime tempranillo plots to make two very fine wines: Aalto and Aalto PS. The winery is minimalist and stunning, dedicated to quality wine production. There’s no tasting room here. They don’t usually receive visitors. It is one of Ribera's (and Spain's) most famous estates. You will enjoy a visit and barrel room tasting of old Tempranillo vines in the heart of Ribera’s golden mile.
Next, you will have an epic lunch. Alejandro Fernandez believed there might be more to Ribera than Vega Sicilia and in 1972, he licensed his bodega in the village of Pesquera where he started to make 100% Tempranillo wines aged in American oak. Since then, he has become known as el rey (the king) of Tempranillo and his Pesquera winery is named by Parker as one of the world’s top wine estates.
You will have a typical Spanish lunch of lamb accompanied by wines from each of Fernandez's four estates. Alejandro is in his 80s, but he always comes and has lunch with the organizers. Last year, lunch lasted till 17:30 and by the end of it, everyone was dancing and singing in Spanish. After lunch, you will tour the estate.
After Pesquera, you will make a quick visit to the castle in Peñafiel, just around the corner. It was originally built in the 9th century and now houses the region’s wine museum. There’s a fantastic view of the surrounding countryside, as you are high up on a hill, and you take a brief chance to enjoy the Ribera landscape before heading back to the hotel, five minutes away.
When you will get back to the hotel, you will have an optional gin workshop. Spain is mad about gin and there are so many different types and flavors. Alejandro's barman will show you how to make the perfect gin and tonic and mojitos, and you’ll kick back with a few tapas. This is a lot of fun. The rest of the evening and dinner is on your own, if you’re still hungry after lunch.
Check out of the hotel at 09:30. You will leave Ribera del Duero and head north towards Rioja, not missing the chance to see one of the most beautiful landmarks in Spain en-route. A little coffee, maybe a Spanish Brandy, and then you will have a quick guided tour of Burgos Cathedral. This Gothic cathedral is a world heritage site and holds the remains of El Cid. It is absolutely spectacular, taking hundreds of years to build. You will then make your way up to Remelluri, a famous single estate winery in Labastida in Rioja.
Almost Tuscan in style, this is the family property of Spain’s most respected travelling winemaker, Telmo Rodriguez. Telmo spent time learning his trade in Bordeaux and now makes wines across the great Spanish wine regions. He is the most influential flying winemaker in Spain. Telmo and his sister Amaia run the family jewel that is Remelluri, an icon in Rioja producing wines with tremendous complexity, finesse, and elegance. This is great wine, in the strictest sense. After a pre-lunch tasting of some older vintages with the winemaker, you will sit down to a traditional and delicious long lunch, accompanied by a series of Reserva wines from the estate. Welcome to Rioja.
After lunch, it's time for an introduction to a very innovative cult producer at the heart of Basque Rioja in Samaniego. Fernando Remirez de Ganuza is one of Rioja’s great characters, a serious wine broker from the region who used his contacts to acquire 70 hectares of prime Rioja Alavesa vineyards in the late 80s. He makes a variety of wines and uses some very unusual techniques. This visit shows another view of how local innovation can create wonderful wines in new styles. You’ll see some things you’ve likely never seen before in wine production. This contrasts greatly with your first visit on Thursday at the temple to tradition in Haro.
After the visit, you will check into your luxury hotel called The Viura in Villabuena de Alava. You will stay here for the two nights in Rioja. It’s a great hotel, with comfortable rooms, and excellent service. In the evening, after having a big lunch, you will start with a brief sherry tasting to showcase a couple of sherry styles the way the Spanish drink them. This will be a prelude to a light dinner and tasting of reds and whites from the village. The dining room has barrels suspended from the ceiling. Riojan chic.
Depart the hotel at 10:00 for your first visit of the day, the town of Haro. A visit to López de Heredia winery alone makes the trip worthwhile. This is traditional Rioja, to say the least. Many of the wines are aged for over a decade before release, often in barrels that are extremely old. In fact, the fermentation vats are over 150 years old. The underground cellars are several kilometers long. It’s like being in a winery from the Middle Ages. The wines are phenomenal. They also make their own barrels here, and you will visit the cooperage. The visit concludes with a tasting of reds and whites from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, accompanied by some light tapas in a legendary setting. Fasten your seatbelts. This is a wine lovers dream. López de Heredia is off the charts.
Next, you head back to the village where you are staying for some stunning views and another story of a great family winery at Luis Cañas. In the village where you are staying, there are more bodegas than any other village in Spain, and Luis Cañas is the best. A family winery since 1928, Luis Cañas has reinvented itself through its modern style Amaren range to complement its more classic wines. Five of Spain’s seven 3 Michelin-starred restaurants carry Luis Cañas wines, now a Riojan benchmark. You visit the vineyards and have a tasting before the few minute drive down the hill to your hotel in the village.
After a short siesta, you set off again at 16:45 for your final evening’s fun. Another benchmark. Another classic. Marqués de Riscal is one of the great names in Spanish wines. You will enjoy a tasting of their range at the city of wine followed by a brief tour of the buildings. What is most amazing about this visit, in addition to the wines, is the architecture. Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum established Bilbao as a tourist destination. He followed it up with the remarkable Marqués de Riscal city of wine and hotel in Elciego. After your tasting, you will head down the road to Valpiedra for dinner.
Martinez Bujanda is one of the most prestigious Riojan families and Valpiedra and is the only winery in Rioja to qualify for the title of Gran Pago (top single estate vineyards). The family's first bodega was set up by Carlos and Pilar's great grandfather Joaquin in 1889. Valpiedra is the flagship, in a fabulous location on the banks of the River Ebro. It’s the ultimate expression of the quality of single estate wines in Rioja, and a fitting final visit, not least because you will follow the tour and tasting with a formal dinner prepared by the Echapresto brothers who run the Michelin-starred Ventamoncalvillo restaurant in nearby Daroca. It’s your last blow out evening. The wine flows.
There's time to sleep in after the big dinner, or explore the village more before heading off for your last winery visit and lunch by the ocean, on the Basque Coast, just over 1 hour away. Leave the hotel at 09:30.
Txakoli is the most Basque of wines; a lively and refreshing accompaniment to the best Basque pintxos, made in a similar style to vinho verde. You visit Talai Berri, a highly renowned txakoli producer spanning over four generations. There, the vines tumble down the steep hillsides overlooking the Basque Coast. You will see the vineyards and the winery before enjoying a tasting of Talai Berri txakoli overlooking the ocean accompanied by some local fish. As soon as you’re done, you head into Getaria to enjoy the best that this Basque fishing village has to offer.
As well as being one of the best fish restaurants in the Basque country, a food mecca, Kaia Kaipe houses one of the finest cellars in Spain. You will enjoy locally caught turbot grilled on the asadores, accompanied by txakoli wines from the vineyards up in the hills overlooking the village. It’s a great relaxing last lunch, with some unique wines.
After lunch, you set off for Bilbao. You will be dropped off at Bilbao Airport (BIO) around 17:00 (no later than 17:15, unless there’s exceptional traffic). From here, you can catch flights back to Madrid, or to dozens of other places in Europe. Or you can stick around in Bilbao. You will be dropped off at Fine Vintage's recommended hotel in Bilbao if you wish. The Hotel Carlton is the grand old lady of Basque hotels, once host to Orson Welles and of course Ernest Hemingway.
This tour will take place in Spain, visiting both Rioja and Basque Country wine regions.
The nearest airport to arrive at is Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD).
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