So we are off on another tour with our dear friends at San Sebastian food.  This time we are off to see the best wine region in Spain, Rioja.  It is most well known for its reds though the area also haa bit of white and rose wines.  We met up with the group in San Sebastian and then were o for a day of wine’n and dine’n.  The three different vineyards we went two were Bodegas Bilbainas, Bai Gorri and Bodegas Carlos Sampedro.  As you’ll see we were able to explore wine production from large to very small production levels through each of these bodegas.  Hard to put a finger on which I enjoyed the best because well, were in Rioja and bad wine doesn’t really exist here.

The first Vineyard was Bodegas Bilbainas which was the largest vineyard on the trip.  Coming in it felt like we were pulling in to a mountain side mansion with wine ready to be poured at every corner.

Upon walking in we go through this small courtyard which has some of the same terroir that is used on their vines of which you can see in a cutout section here.

A small plot of their vineyard which is meant for guests to come by and check out.  Though you can really see the great views that wine country brings.

Next up was Bai Gorri which produced a bit less wine and was a really modern building surrounded by a whole lot of grapes and mountains.  This is the Vineyard that our tour guide Jenny (whose amazing) used to work at.  On the ride over i swear we were lost in the middle of dunes and mountains before we finally got to the small town that is shadowed by this incredible building.

View from the glass encased lobby.  I swear the mountains never end here.

Getting on with the tour we get to the fermentation tanks.  One of the really interesting things about the wine at Bai gorri is that the wine does very little moving around.  The structure is set up in a way for the grapes to be received and processed taking advantage of gravity.  Meaning they pretty much just go down several basement levels from being received to being shipped.  You can see an example with this photo above where the grapes are fermented in their tanks and then poured down into a tank below to go on to the next step…smart.

One of the gentlest grape crushers available.  This is what they use for their reserved wines for the finest quality wine possible.

Barrels on barrrels on barrels…you’ll never guess what it smelled like in their…

The goods!

or our final stop we head to a very small vineyard in a very small town with some very good wines.  Its an old town again out in the middle of no where surrounded by mountains and fields of wine…not that im complaining.

Its a small town which is really built around its wine industry.  Its the type of town where everyone in someway works in the wine industry some how some where.

We get to have a tasting of some of his wines but this time we had something very special.  Rather than aging his wine in some type of stainless steel or even wooden container he goes the very old method of cement containers.  Yes you heard right.  The wine is aged in a big cement vat with a wooden lid underground in his wine cave.  Cant get anymore old school than that.

We tasted the wine straight from the cement vat and then the same type of wine which had aged in the bottle for a few years.  The difference was tremendous.  Some of the flavor profiles were similar but the aging really mellows and balances the flavor.  There was an intense astringency and tannic flavors coming from the unaged wine.  Defidently a very cool experience.

His own little bottling set up.  He is involved in every step of his proccesing from start to finish, very hard to find.

After a few glasses and a bottle to take home we were off to explore the town before heading home.  Beautiful town to say the least.

and the views speak for them self.

Published by marcobahena


2 thoughts on “Rioja!

  1. i saw that wine yard where they aged it in cement containers on a tv show(the same as i talked about when they also visited arzak)
    my mouth fried a bit when i saw all that wine, and they did a quite cool barbeque, they grilled some own-produced vegetables over a open fire made of dried wine bushes with just some salt and olive oil, i’ve tried that at my summer house but with driep out bushes of hops and apple tree. the taste was amazing, i could really taste a beery note from the hops!

    1. Yeah a lot of places have been playing with smoking with different things. Another trend is that people have been making their own coals and grilling their food with that…so cool.

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