Glorious sunshine welcomed in our first full day on tour in Valladolid.
Today we focus on Rueda and Toro so we headed south of the city to Bodegas Menade. Set up in 2005 by Ricardo, Marco and Alejandra Sanz, these three siblings of a famous wine making family have a created an extraordinary ecological estate in the heart of the Rueda DO. This is white wine country with the indigenous Verdejo grape being the most important and comprising 90% of all the plantings.
At Menade there is a very strong organic approach with emphasis on biodiversity – highlighted by their “insect hotels” where they introduce natural predators into the vineyard to ward off destructive pests and their mobile trees and bushes trailer – an idea to attract other mammals and birds into different parts of the vineyard. They have donkeys (who put on a rather risqué show for us as soon as we arrived!), chickens and geese, and the whole mood of the estate is very tranquil despite producing 1 million plus bottles.
Patricia hosted our visit and her passion for the philosophy of the bodega really shone through. We tasted a sublime selection of Verdejos plus a dry and a sweet Sauvignon Blanc. Fabulous quality, fascinating place and a brilliant first visit.
It was then a 40 minute drive to the renowned Fariña estate in Toro. Founded in 1942, Fariña is regarded as the founding father of the Toro region that almost single handedly established this small area as a quality wine production zone, culminating in being awarded its DO in 1987.
Export manager Laurence Colson showed us round and brought this fairly large estate to life with some great detail and insight into the Toro and Fariña story. We admired the art collection (artists submit label designs for one of their reds each year) as we tasted the first two wines – a Malvasia that was rich and textured, followed by the most drinkable red called Lagrima. It was then lunchtime. Having had the pleasure of visiting Fariña on numerous occasions I knew what to expect. Wonderful pork ribs with potatoes, beef casserole with salad, and the famous nuns cakes made in the local convent. Washed down by contrasting crianzas and a delicious muscatel sweet wine. I could see no one would be booking dinner later…..