Explorations in Spanish Wine Tasting

My favorite wine to drink on any given day is Spanish Tempranillo from the Rioja region. So with a trip to Spain it was pretty much a given that we had to go to the Rioja region. It sits between two mountain ranges in the Northern part of Spain. The river Ebro flows right through the middle. The river is also the line that marks the beginning of the Basque Country. While driving around you will see wheat fields and vineyards. There doesn’t seem to be any thought given to row orientation or even where to plant the next plot. It seems as if there are wheat fields and then wherever possible plant some vines in any direction and however many fit in that spot. It makes me wonder if we are trying way to hard with our vines at home. Tasting wine in Spain is much different than here. In order to even taste wine you must have an appointment. You cannot just drive up to the winery and do a wine tasting, it is not allowed. The only bodega (winery) we made an appointment at before leaving home was Ysios. I made the reservation online, it is very easy to do. When we arrived the door was still locked. So we drove around the countryside for a bit and came back right at the time of our appointment. The tour was about an hour and a half long, during which we got to see the entire winery, from crush pad through bottle storage. Then at the end of the tour we had our wine tasting. It turns out a tasting is two generous half glasses of wine and a plate of dried meats. The only wine they make at Ysios is Tempranillo. The first wine we tasted was a new Tempranillo; I think it was only a year old, I cannot remember. The second wine was a Reserve Tempranillo from 2011. I was impressed with how well their wines aged. The winery is set against the mountains, so from the front the shape of the winery matches the shape of the mountains. In front of the winery on each side are reflection ponds. The ponds represent the water of the earth, such as rivers and oceans. They also reflect the sky so show the heavens. The entire winery is made out of wood. The wood is supposed to represent the earth and her resources. The roof is tin and also reflects the sky to represent the heavens once again. The roof is also wavy like the waves of the ocean. When you face the winery the front looks like the prow of a ship coming out of the waves. Every part of the winery has a meaning that represents the earth. I cannot remember all the details, it was a lot to take in. The town of Guardia is visible out of the tasting room windows. It is set on the very top of a hill and is very small. I don’t know if there is any place to stay there, but it has the best view of the surrounding vineyards and wineries. The town we stayed in was called Logrono. It is a very clean town with nice hotels and restaurants. If you are planning to do some wine tasting in Spain this is a very good place to stay. It is easy to cover the entire Rioja wine region from this town.

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