On this journey you will experience the production process and flavors of the main Spanish products from the protected denominations of origin in the Crdoba region. Your palates will be delighted with the taste of the jamon iberico from Los Pedroches, the goat cheese and the olive oil from La Subbtica, and the unique wines from Montilla- Moriles. Andalusian cuisine is rich and renowned for its delicious food and wine. Accompanied with local cooking class, tapas meals and charming accommodation, this gastronomic journey can become a unique sensory experience.
Just Explore uses pre-selected and pre-viewed 3 or 4-star boutique hotels. For this gourmet tour, the organizer has mainly chosen rural hotels with perfect locations to enjoy the scenery and the peaceful atmosphere of the different country sides that you will explore within this journey. Bedrooms are normally for 2 people sharing a double occupancy. Supplement for single use is applicable.
Day 2: Visit Zuheros-Subbetica Natural Park.
Day 3: Stop at the Rute Lake, visit Priego and then have lunch at the Luque old olive oil station.
Day 4: Explore the amazing Zuheros Castle-Cueva de los Murcielagos (bats cave) in Cordoba.
Day 5: Enjoy a day long visit in the Montilla-Moriles wine region.
Day 6: Explore Cordoba: enjoy a private guided tour of the Mosque, Jewish quarter and Alcazar gardens; you will then head to Los Pedroches valley Natural Park.
Day 7: This day is dedicated to exploring Los Pedroches Natural Park and Dehesa land.
Day 8: You will stop in Montoro for a walking tour.
This retreat will take place in Andalucia, Spain.
Cordoba is a mid-sized city of 350,000 people. A great cultural reference point in Europe, this ancient city has been declared a World Heritage Site and contains a mixture of the diverse cultures that have settled it throughout history (Muslim, Jewish and Christian). Very few places in the world can boast of having been the capital of a Roman province (Hispania Baetica), the capital of an Arab State (Al-Andalus) and a Caliphate.
When the Muslims conquered the city in 711, Cordoba became the political, financial and economic center of the Muslim Emirate of Al-Andalus. From 756, it is the capital of the independent Emirate of Cordoba, founded by the Umayyad prince Abd al-Rahman I. From 929, when the Emir Abd al-Rahaman III proclaims himself Caliph, Cordoba would be the capital of an independent Caliphate.
The kingdom of Abd al-Rahman III was the most glorious period of the city history. Such splendor is palpable in the intellectual wealth of this city that has seen the birth of figures like Seneca, Averroes, and Maimonides. The historic quarter of Cordoba is a beautiful network of small streets, alleys, squares and whitewashed courtyards arranged around the Mezquita, which reflects the city's prominent place in the Islamic world during medieval times.
Thirty-two towns in Los Pedroches valley (central area of Sierra Morena mountains) are covered by this Denomination of Origin. The valley takes its name from the town of Pedroche, the oldest in the area. The most characteristic element of the landscape are the holm oak trees of the Dehesa pastureland, where the ibrico pigs (the original swine of Spain) are released to eat its beloved acorns (bellota) from November till March.
Dehesa is one of the best preserved ecosystems in Europe, where livestock breeds live side by side with wild species (deer, wild boars, wild cats, imperial eagles, black vultures). The jamn ibrico is considered as the finest ham in the world and is greatly prized as a gourmet food. This ham is made only from the Iberian pigs breed in four different regions of Spain: Los Pedroches (Crdoba). Extremadura, Guijuelo (Salamanca) and Huelva.
At the border with Los Pedroches Valley, also within the Sierra Morena mountains, the Natural Park of Cardea and Montoro is located. The dominant vegetation is the holm oak, wild olive trees, cork oaks and gall oaks. One of the areas of the park contains the only examples of Pyrenean oak woods left in southern Spain. One of the most outstanding features of this reserve is its wide diversity of fauna.
Montilla is the center of this Denomination of Origin wine zone. The winemaking history of this area dates back to the Romans and the Moors and it's quite possibly the oldest in Andalucia. The landscape here is dry and the soil is a blinding white albariza (white marl composed of clay, calcium and marine fossils). Its excellent moisture retention is very significant as this area is hotter than almost anywhere else in Spain.
The main white grape variety of this area is the worldwide known Pedro Ximenez. With a delicate skin and high sugar content, the wines that are made from it, reach up to 14 and 16% alcohol, leaving behind plenty of residual sugar. They are then matured using the solera system and classified into the following styles: Joven (young and fruity), Fino (dry and nutty), Amontillado (gradually oxidized), Oloroso (richer and heavier) and Pedro Ximnez (sweet and thick, honoring the actual grape name).
On the way back to the airport, you will enjoy a scenic route with delightful stopovers including the charming small town of Montoro. Dramatically sited on an escarpment above a horseshoe bend in the Gualquivir river, the town is a labyrinth of narrow, white-walled streets. Montoro was declared as historic-artistic site in 1969. In addition to its beautiful natural surroundings, Montoro gathers several places of tourist interest, such as the bridge that crosses the river, the church of San Bartolom (XV), the remains of its Moorish castle and the tower of Villaverde.
Rute is a whitewashed town sited picturesquely on a hill overlooked by the hazy Sierra de Rute behind. Beyond a ruined Moorish castle and a Baroque church, Rute has few more monuments and is famous for producing aniseed liqueurs (anish), Christmas cakes (mantecado) and chocolate. The Association for the Defense of the Donkey (ADEBO) is a non-profit organization with a unique Reserve of Donkeys at the outskirts of the town.
Since 1988, one of its main goals is to protect the pure Spanish race which is in extreme danger of extinction. Iznajar is another picturesque small village of Moorish origin, situated on top of a huge rocky outcropping overlooking El Pantano de Iznajar, the largest lake in the whole of Andalucia, which is frequented throughout the warm season as a beach. Priego is the capital of the Subbetica region and one of the Andaluca's little known Baroque wonders.
The northern approach presents a dramatic view of the whitewashed buildings of its old quarter (barrio de la villa), laid out along the edge of a natural gorge (balcn del adarve) of impressive height which has guaranteed the safety of Priego throughout history. Priego is also in the center of a major olive oil zone that produces some of the Spain's finest oils which have been internationally awarded and given their own denominational label.
Nestling in a gorge backed by steep rock cliffs, Zuheros is another stunning Subbtica village. A cluster of white houses tumbles down the hill below a romantic Moorish castle built on and into the rock. On the edge of a small square, the archeological museum displays fascinating findings from the Cueva de los Murcilagos (bats cave). This cave is located in the hills above the village and was first explored in 1938. Nearby Zuheros, there are many scenic walking and cycling routes such as the old olive oil railway trail (via verde), with dramatic views over the whole Subbetica landscape.
All meals and drinks mentioned in the itinerary are included in tour price (all breakfasts, 5 lunches, 6 dinners). Beside the cooking classes, you will enjoy a couple of local products tastings-cheese, olive oil and the famous jamon iberico. Enjoy tasting of 5 different wines of Montilla! If you are an aficionado (amateur) of wine, Andalucia is definitely the place for you. Wine in Andalucia has come a long way since the Phoenicians first planted vineyards in the fertile Cadiz area in 1100 BC. By the time of the Romans, wine was being made in Andalucia in a big way, and the activity has continued ever since. Wine was appreciated even during the centuries of Moorish domination.
The Koran frowns on the consumption of alcohol, but the Moors made wine and used it for so called medicinal purposes. From the 15th century onwards, Andalusian wines were shipped to appreciative drinkers elsewhere in Europe, particularly England, where there was a great fondness for Sack (as Sherry was called) and sweet wines from Mlaga. This happy situation prevailed until the 19th century when European vineyards were affected by the fungus oidium, followed by an even more devastating plague of Phylloxera, the American vine root louse, which first appeared in Bordeaux in 1868 and spread to South Spain 20 years later.
Most wine areas were replanted with plague-resistant American rootstock, but some others never fully recovered. From the historic sherries of Jerez, to the up-and-coming new vineyards near Ronda and Granada, Andalucia boasts numerous top-quality wines. There are over 40,000 hectares of vineyards in Andalucia planted in 20 regions. Over half of the wine is produced in 4 major denominacin de origen (D.O. areas or the equivalent to France's appellation d'origine controlle) as listed below:
Jerez, Cadiz province-famous and worldwide known for its sherry wine in all its varieties: amontillado, oloroso, palo cortao
Malaga and Sierras de Malaga-traditionally known for the sweet Malaga desert wines (only about a decade ago a handful of innovative vintners started producing interesting red table wines in the Ronda mountains)
Montilla-Moriles, Crdoba province-traditionally sweet desert wines from the variety Pedro Ximenez and fortifed wines very close to the sherry wines from Jerez (nowadays this region also produces a wider range of other white and red varieties)
Condado de Huelva-a selection of dry and sweet white wines from Huelva province
In addition to the above, there are 16 other regions called vino de la tierra which is a certified step below DO on the Spanish wine quality ladder. Andalucia is slowly becoming revered worldwide as an important center for wine-lovers. To use the words of American wine guru Robert Parker, Andalucia is one of the key regions to watch. On this food and wine tour, you will experience the real essence of Andalucia, its true taste, its unique smell, its distinctive flavor. Andalusian cuisine is rich and renowned for its delicious food and wine: Just Explore will make of these gastronomic journeys a unique sensory experience.
Explore the surroundings at your own pace! Enjoy your free time at leisure, choosing from activities like shopping, spa treatments at the hotel or hiking.
Arrive at Mlaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP). Just Explore will pick you up from the airport. The pick-up is included in the price.
For this organizer you can guarantee your booking through BookCulinaryVacations.com. All major credit cards supported.