Our tour to Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Toro and Cigales has begun!
Our journey from Madrid to Valladolid was trouble free and we had plenty of time to settle in to our hotel. We convened for a quick glass or three of Verdejo before heading out to Trasto restaurant in the centre of town. Having eaten there last year I was keen to return and they did not disappoint.
A fabulous tasting menu was delivered with great aplomb, style and elegance. A modern twist on traditional Spanish cuisine. We washed it all down with magnums of Menade Verdejo, magnums of Belondrade Apolonia and a delicious Ribera red.
What a fabulous start to our trip.
Our first full day took us to the regions of Rueda and Toro. First stop was the wonderful Menade bodega. Set up in 2005 by three siblings of the famous Sanz wine family, this is a fascinating and very different type of visit.
We were hosted by the charismatic Karim who entranced us with the details of the environmental approach, their insect AirBnbs, and mobile mini forests that allow deployment of vine friendly bugs to different parts of the estate to encourage a more harmonious balance. They also have an amazing herb garden, used for creating infusions for the soil. Add in to the mix the donkeys (who last year put on a very risqué show for us) the chickens and the geese and the sense of anticipation for the wines was palpable.
An amazing range of wines followed. Aromatic Verdejo, crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a no sulphur Verdejo, barrel fermented Verdejo, a late harvest Sauvignon and a Tempranillo rounded it all off. Add in the delicious goat and ewe’s cheese from round the corner this all led to a very exciting and high quality experience.
From Rueda, it was a 40 minute hop to Toro and the famous, family estate of Fariña. Commercial director Victor hosted our visit and created a real sense of family history as he explained the origins and development of the Fariña bodega. We tasted a delicious range of wines surrounded by some extraordinary artwork – a project that has been in place for a number of years where young artists are invited to submit creations for their Primera wine label.
Then it was time for lunch. I have been to Fariña many times so I knew exactly what to expect. A deliciously rustic meal comprising pork ribs and potatoes in a rich tomato sauce, unctuous beef casserole with mushrooms and finished off with selection of the acclaimed ‘nun’s buns’ – cakes made by the local convent. All washed down with Reserva 2012 Tempranillo, Rosado, their Lagrima red and a little sweetie at the end.
Not a bad first day. Off to Ribera del Duero on Friday.