We waved goodbye to Cambados and headed inland to the rather wonderfully situated Casal de Armán in the Ribeiro region of Galicia. This bodega, which also boasts some well appointed rooms and a superb restaurant, overlooks villages and valleys and gives a terrific insight into the topography of the area.
We met Roger Matthews who many of us had encountered back in 2012 during our visits to Ribera del Duero. Roger now represents an association of producers in Galicia and he gave us a detailed insight into the viticulture, history and terroir. Treixadura is the main grape variety and for many people this was the first opportunity to taste this variety.
Having tasted through their range, we settled down to a rather splendid lunch. A delicious fish starter, melting beef cheek and an unctuous dessert.
The drive to Monforte de Lemos is spectacular – river gorges, abundant forests and dramatic landscapes – all giving an insight into the Ribeiro and Ribera Sacra wine regions that deserve to be better known.
Saturday was our Bierzo day. This is the home of the Mencía grape which has had a tremendous renaissance over the last 25 years. Mencía really deserves to be better known as the quality we tasted was exceptional. We visited Bodegas Pittacum, in the village of Arganza, where we hosted by Natasha. She gave us a wonderfully detailed account of the history, bush vine viticulture, winery philosophy and so much more. It is beautiful spot and the old farmhouse has been restored to much of its historic former glory.
The wines of Pittacum are superb. Extraordinary quality and value – for many on the tour it was an absolute revelation.
We then returned to Moncloa de San Lazaro – a historic resting place for pilgrims on the Camino de Compostela. The place oozes history and is a wonderful place to stop and have coffee, take lunch and taste many more Bierzo wines. A very light snack and tasting of six wines concluded our day in El Bierzo.
Dinner was in the Parador in Monforte. Perched high above the town it is a challenging walk and leaves you feeling utterly deserving of your meal. Canapés, delicious grilled hake, veal loin and a creamy dessert rounded off our Saturday.