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Wine, Culinary & Cultural tours in Spain, Portugal & SW France

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    The Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal 2015 is fast approaching and we’ll keep you updated with the results of the Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain for 2015! In the meantime, over the next few days we’ll be showcasing some of the Best Michelin starred Chefs in Spain, if not the World, with our own Pre-Michelin Starred Restaurants 2015 SuperChef Series by Gourmand Breaks- An insight into the world of some of the current Michelin 3 star and Michelin 2 star chefs in Spain! Previously, we showcased Michelin 3 star chef David Muñoz – DiverXO and Michelin 2 star chefs Paco Pèrez – Miramar and Enoteca, Andoni Luis Aduritz – Mugaritz and Jordi Cruz – ABaC.  In no particular order, today a Michelin 3 Starred chef whose roots and creative work are based on the Costa Blanca coast: Quique Dacosta– Proudly heads Michelin 3 star restaurant Quique Dacosta in Denia, which is also placed 41st in the Top 50 restaurants of the World list for 2014 by Restaurant magazine.  To be enjoyed on one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours :) Quique Dacosta was born in 1972 in Cáceres and at age 14 moved to Denia, Alicante where he still lives today. In the summer of 1986 Quique Dacosta started working in the kitchens as a plate washer which extended to include weekend work while he finished his studies in Denia. At age 16 Quique Dacosta started working in the family owned restaurant El Poblet, which he never left and it now takes his name as Michelin 3 star restaurant Quique Dacosta. El Poblet started life in 1981 as a Spanish restaurant offering Castilliano cuisine. At the end of the ’80′s, and in the 90′s under the rein of Quique Dacosta from 1999,  El Poblet was transforming and mixing styles to offer a new Valencian cuisine.  In 2002 the first Michelin star was awarded and in 2006 the second.  In 2009 El Poblet changed its name and became what it is world-renowned as today, Quique Dacosta Restaurant. The Michelin Guide for Spain and Portugal for 2013 awarded Quique Dacosta Restaurant with its current Michelin 3 star status. Quique Dacosta is self-taught through hard work, and by reading books, in his home-land and today flies the flag of the culture and cuisine of the area by only using locally sourced produce from within 75 km of his restaurant. Michelin 3 star restaurant Quique Dacosta cuisine today is classed as creative, traditional and modernist.   In 2012 Quique Dacosta Restaurant entered the prestigious Restaurant Magazine Best 50 restaurants of the world list at Number 40.  For 2013 Quique Dacosta rose to 26th place but for 2014 dropped to Number 41. A businessman as well as a chef Quique Dacosta formed the company Daco & Co in 2010 which expands new gastronomic concepts and at the moment includes: Mercatbar, Valencia, his first project outside Dénia,  that opened in 2010 – serves classic and historic tapas. Vuelve Carolina, Valencia- a modern and contemporary Gastrobar El Poblet Restaurant, Valencia – a homenage to his roots,  located above Vuelve Carolina   With Spanish Chefs taking the World by storm, now is the time to visit Spain, home to 10% of the World’s Best Restaurants and numerous Michelin starred Restaurants!  On one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours you can indulge in the Best Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain.  Contact us for your personalized quote.

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    The Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal 2015 is fast approaching and we’ll keep you updated with the results of the Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain for 2015! In the meantime, over the next few days we’ll be showcasing some of the Best Michelin starred Chefs in Spain, if not the World, with our own Pre-Michelin Starred Restaurants 2015 SuperChef Series by Gourmand Breaks- An insight into the world of some of the current Michelin 3 star and Michelin 2 star chefs in Spain! Previously, we showcased Michelin 3 star chefs Quique Dacosta – Quique Dacosta Restaurant and  David Muñoz – DiverXO as well as Michelin 2 star chefs Paco Pèrez – Miramar and Enoteca, Andoni Luis Aduritz – Mugaritz and Jordi Cruz – ABaC.  In no particular order, today a Michelin 3 Starred chef who holds a total of 7 Michelin stars: Carme Ruscalleda– Proudly heads Michelin 3 star restaurant Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar in the province of Barcelona. She is A Michelin star herself as with a total of 7 Michelin stars all her 3 restaurants have been awarded the coveted Michelin stars.  To be enjoyed on one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours :)   Carme Ruscalleda was born in 1952 in Sant Pol de Mar on the Maresme coast of Barcelona. Born into a family of farmers and merchants, she began working when she was 16 years old in the family grocery store, which with time evolved into a fine delicatessen. She studied charcuterie and commerce and in 1975 married a grocer, Toni Balam. Within the family business, in 1976, Carme Ruscalleda and  Toni Balam started to offer a selection of ready-made dishes to take-away which ripened their idea of opening their own restaurant. That opportunity arose when Ruscalleda bought the premises in front of the family store, a stately building from the 1880′s with a garden and sea views. It was here that she founded Sant Pau, her first restaurant, in 1988, with her husband Toni Balam. Carme Ruscalleda earned her first Michelin star in 1991, the second in 1996 and for the Michelin Guide to Spain 2006 Sant Pau was awarded its current Michelin 3 star restaurant status. Her avant-guard cuisine is strongly based on Catalan tradition but also open to world influences thus providing the originality that she looks for with her focus on quality and seasonal products.  In each dish Carme Ruscalleda looks to achieve a harmonious balance of healthy values, beautiful presentations and clean flavors.   Also by Carme Ruscalleda: Sant Pau – Tokyo Sant Pau, Tokyo, is a true replica of the Sant Pau Michelin 3 star restaurant in Sant Pol de Mar. The atmosphere, philosophy and gastronomy of Carme Ruscalleda is applied to offer catalan cuisine inspired by her style, made with fresh products from Japan.  Opened in 2004 in the area of Nihonbashi, Sant Pau – Tokyo is today a Michelin 2 star restaurant. Moments – Barcelona A family venture with Carme Ruscalleda’s son, Raül, who heads the kitchen of this Michelin 2 star restaurant located in the luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Barcelona. Apart from her hands-on culinary work in the kitchen Carme Ruscalleda has also branched out into the literary world.  Dedicating her time to spreading her culinary passion she has published various books.   With Spanish Chefs taking the World by storm, now is the time to visit Spain, home to 10% of the World’s Best Restaurants and numerous Michelin starred Restaurants!  On one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours you can indulge in the Best Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain.  Contact us for your personalized quote.  

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    The Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal 2015 is fast approaching and we’ll keep you updated with the results of the Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain for 2015! In the meantime, over the next few days we’ll be showcasing some of the Best Michelin starred Chefs in Spain, if not the World, with our own Pre-Michelin Starred Restaurants 2015 SuperChef Series by Gourmand Breaks- An insight into the world of some of the current Michelin 3 star and Michelin 2 star chefs in Spain! Previously, we showcased Michelin 3 star chefs Carme Ruscalleda,  Quique Dacosta and David Muñoz  as well as Michelin 2 star chefs Paco Pérez, Andoni Luis Aduritz  and Jordi Cruz.  In no particular order, today a Michelin 3 Starred Basque country chef with various national and international restaurants: Martín Berasategui– Proudly heads Michelin 3 star restaurant that takes his name and a holds a total of 7 Michelin stars.  To be enjoyed on one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours :) Martín Berasategui was born in 1960 in San Sebastián. He studied in Navarra and was introduced to the culinary world, at just 13 years of age, through his mother and aunt.  Martín Berasategui trained at cookery school in France in 1977, working over the next few years in several prestigious kitchens, including those of Michel Guerard and Alain Ducasse in Monaco. He began working in the family business, Bodegón Alejandro, where he subsequently took charge at age 21. He received his first Michelin star just 5 years later. In 1993, and along with his wife, Martín Berasategui opted for a solitary project and opened his first restaurant in Lasarte, which 6 months later received it’s first Michelin star, the star he recuperated from Bodegón Alejandro.  In 1996 the second Michelin star was awarded and in 2001 Martín Berasategui restaurant received it’s Michelin 3 star status where it proudly holds it’s place ever since. In 2006 the Michelin 3 starred Martín Berasategui restaurant entered the World’s Best 50 restaurants, the prestigious list presented by Restaurant Magazine, in 37th place. Going up and down on the Top 50 restaurants list, Martín Berasategui restaurant reached it’s highest placing, 27th, in 2007.  Martín Berasategui is currently placed 35th in the acclaimed World’s Best 50 Restaurants List, for 2014. Also, in the recent World’s Best Restaurants of 2014 – TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, Martín Berasategui, in Lasarte – San Sebastián – was ranked at Nº10. Martín Berasategui restaurant was not the only Spanish entry in the World Top Ten TripAdvisor list -  El Club Allard (Madrid) was ranked 6th and the unstoppable El Celler de Can Roca (Girona) tops the charts at Nº 1. Michelin 3 star restaurant Martín Berasategui works like clockwork with Oneka, Martín’s wife, as restaurant manager. In the kitchens some of the recent great names of Spanish cuisine have undertaken their formation, such as Dani García and Eneko Atxa. Michelin 3 star restaurant in Spain Martín Berasategui restaurant is located in Lasarte and offers light, balanced and innovative cusine always true to traditional roots.  Also by Martín Berasategui, Restaurants in Spain: Lasarte, Barcelona  – Michelin 2 star restaurant in Spain Opened in 2006 and by 2009 was already awarded the 2nd Michelin star. This elegant and intimate fine dining restaurant takes it’s name from the town where Martín Berasategui opened his first restaurant and is located in the Hotel Condes, Barcelona. The restaurant is currently undergoing renovations with plans to reopen next month, December 2014. M.B, Tenerife – Michelin 2 star restaurant in Spain M.B achieved it’s first Michelin star in 2010 and, for the Michelin Guide for Spain and Portugal 2014, received it’s second Michelin star. Tranquility and simplicity enlighten all the exquisite flavours that Martin’s creative dishes have to offer. M.B is located on the Canary Isles at Abama Golf and Spa resort, Guía de Isora, Tenerife. Loidi, Barcelona Loidi is a highly contemporary and affordable Gastro-bistro in which Martín Berasategui offers his traditional cuisine. It is also located in the Hotel Condes where his Michelin 2 star restaurant Lasarte is also housed. Fonda España, Barcelona Martín Berasategui offers, in the modernist building occupied by Hotel España, just off La Rambla, a traditional cuisine with a modern touch. Doma, Bilbao Martín Berasategui has put his stamp on the restaurant within the 5* Hotel Silken Gran Domine in Bilbao. Doma restaurant has a privileged location right opposite the Guggenheim Museum. Eme Be Garrote, San Sebastián Once an old cider house Martín Berasategui has kept with the spitit of the “house” with it’s decor and dishes reminding us that once upon a time it was fire that gave the dish it’s flavor. Internationally, Martín Berasategui has branched out with 2 firther restaurants in Mexico and another 2 in the Dominican Republic, all within the Mélia Hotels International  chain Paradisus Resorts. With Spanish Chefs taking the World by storm, now is the time to visit Spain, home to 10% of the World’s Best Restaurants and numerous Michelin starred Restaurants!  On one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours you can indulge in the Best Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain.  Contact us for your personalized quote.  

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    The Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal 2015 is fast approaching and we’ll keep you updated with the results of the Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain for 2015! In the meantime, over the next few days we’ll be showcasing some of the Best Michelin starred Chefs in Spain, if not the World, with our own Pre-Michelin Starred Restaurants 2015 SuperChef Series by Gourmand Breaks- An insight into the world of some of the current Michelin 3 star and Michelin 2 star chefs in Spain! Previously, we showcased Michelin 3 star chefs Martín Berasategui, Carme Ruscalleda, Quique Dacosta and David Muñoz  as well as Michelin 2 star chefs Paco Pérez, Andoni Luis Aduritz  and Jordi Cruz.  In no particular order, today a Michelin 3 Starred chef considered the master chef of the New Basque Cuisine: Juan Mari Arzak– Proudly heads long standing Michelin 3 star restaurant Arzak and is a highly respected and influential Basque chef and forefather of the New Basque Cuisine.  To be enjoyed on one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours :) Juan Mari Arzak was born in 1942 in San Sebastián. As a boy, he helped out at his grandparent’s restaurant which his parents, and subsequently he, took over.  His real interest, however, in the eculinary world came when he studied  hotel and restaurant management in Madrid.  After Juan Mari Arzak then completed his compulsory military stint he returned to the family restaurant and began training as a chef, where he was made responsible for roasting meat. Arzak restaurant, as it is known today,  was origanally built in 1897 by Juan Mari Arzak’s grandparents and was a popular bar renowned for serving wine of dubious quality to the locals. When his parents took over  it was transformed into a restaurant serving traditional San Sebastián recipes and gained a reputation for refinement and quality. In 1966 Juan Mari Arzak began to work in the restaurant alongside his Mother (his father had died in 1951). He began experimenting with modern gastronomy and the restaurant began to evolve.  A year later, his wife, Maite Espina, also joined the restaurant and began transforming the front-of-house operations. By 1974, they had had two children, Marta and Elena, and the restaurant had been awarded its first Michelin star. 3 years later Arzak restaurant was awarded it’s 2nd Michelin Star and in 1989 Arzak restaurant was awarded it’s status as a Michelin three star restaurant in Spain, a title it has held ever since. Juan Mari Arzak was determined to keep evolving his style and  in 1976  with his friend Pedro Subijana, and inspired by the work of Paul Bocuse, set off to Lyon to learn the secrets of Nouvelle cuisine. The trip proved invaluable and they set up a collaborative group that would form the foundations of the Basque nouvelle cuisine movement,  a Basque cuisine revolution if you will.  The group revived and improved traditional recipes by using moderm methods and innovative techniques. The goal was evolution although at the same time sticking to local tradition and the best quality regional ingredients. By the 1990′s the New Basque Cuisine  spread worldwide. Michelin 3 star restaurant Arzak has constantly featured in the acclaimed Restaurant Magazine World’s Best 50 restaurants list where it appeared for the first 2 years in 22nd and 21st place respectively. For the last 9 years, Arzak restaurant has been placed in the Top 10 of this prestigious list and it’s current position for 2014 is at Nº 8 (where it has not moved from since 2011). Long-standing Michelin 3 star restaurant Arzak  is located in a residential area on one of the hills overlooking San Sebastián, a short drive from the town center.  The long family tradition of Michelin 3 starred restaurant Arzak is set to live on, as his daughter, Elena joins him at Michelin 3 star restaurant Arzak. Elena Arzak is training under her father to take over the family restaurant.  Already an award winning chef she, Elena Arzak, won the “Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef” at the “World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards 2012″. Also by Juan Mari and Elena Arzak Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, London This fine dining eatery brings the contemporary Basque country cooking to England. The restaurant is located at the Halkin Hotel in the Belgravia district of London and was awarded its first Michelin star in 2014.   With Spanish Chefs taking the World by storm, now is the time to visit Spain, home to 10% of the World’s Best Restaurants and numerous Michelin starred Restaurants!  On one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours you can indulge in the Best Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain.  Contact us for your personalized quote.    

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    The Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal 2015 is just days away! We’ll keep you updated with the results of the Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain for 2015 on Wednesday, but in the meantime we’re showcasing some of the Best Michelin starred Chefs in Spain, if not the World! Our own Pre-Michelin Starred Restaurants 2015 SuperChef Series by Gourmand Breaks is an insight into the world of some of the current Michelin 3 star and Michelin 2 star chefs in Spain! Previously, we showcased Michelin 3 star chefs Juan Mari Arzak, Martín Berasategui, Carme Ruscalleda, Quique Dacosta and David Muñoz plus Michelin 2 star chefs Paco Pérez, Andoni Luis Aduritz and Jordi Cruz.  In no particular order, today a Michelin 3 Starred chef with one of the Best Restaurants in the World and 2 expert side-kicks: Joan Roca– Proudly heads the cuisine at Michelin 3 star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, which is also placed 2nd in the Top 50 restaurants of the World list for 2014 by Restaurant magazine.  To be enjoyed on one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours :) Joan Roca was born in 1964 in Girona. His earliest memories of cooking are with his mother in the kitchen of their family owned restaurant  “Can Roca”, which opened in 1967 serving traditional Catalan cuisine. It is no surprise, therefore, that Joan Roca along with his brothers,  Josep and Jordi, ended up in the restaurant business. Joan Roca studied at culinary school in Girona and worked at Georges Blanc in Vonnas as well as with Ferran Adrià at El Bulli. In 1986 Joan Roca, along with his brothers, opened El Celler de Can Roca, next door to their parents’ restaurant Can Roca. The restaurant, however, was small, it was a tight, ill-suited space, with a small kitchen and a modest decor. In 2007 El Celler de Can Roca moved, basically down the road, to its current purpose built building with a kitchen large enough for 30 chefs and a dining room featuring wooden floors and simply dressed tables. The word “Roca” in the Catalan (and Spanish) language means “Rock” so on each table sits three stones which represent the three Roca brothers. El Celler de Can Roca serves traditional Catalan cuisine, but with creative twists and unusual presentations via avant-garde and molecular gastronomy techniques. The wine cellar at El Celler de Can Roca is extensive to say the least and houses around 60,000 bottles. El Celler de Can Roca entered the Michelin starred restaurant  world in Spain with its first Michelin star in 1995. In 2002 El Celler de Can Roca received it’s second Michelin star and in 2009 the 3rd star arrived making El Celler de Can Roca the Michelin 3 star restaurant that it is today. In 2006 El Celler de Can Roca entered the acclaimed Worlds Best 50 restaurants list, compiled by Restaurant Magazine, in 21st place, rising to 11th place in 2007 and then falling to 26th place in 2008.  In 2009 El Celler de Can Roca rose to 5th place and since then has always appeared in the Top 10 with it reaching the Number 1 spot, THE Best Restaurant in the World, in 2013. El Celler de Can Roca is currently, for 2014, placed in 2nd place behind Noma by René Redzepi, in Copenhagen. But, as mentioned, Joan Roca is not a solo artist here at Michelin 3 star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca. While Joan oversees the cuisine, his 2 younger brothers complete the restaurant with Josep selecting the wines and Jordi handling the pastry. The 3 musketeers, or Rocateers if you will, react and interact with each other, combining their fortes, to present one the World’s Best Restaurants and Michelin 3 Starred restaurant El Celler de Can Roca: Josep Roca – the middle brother and sommelier Wine pairings are important and are evident in many of the signature dishes of El Celler de Can Roca, which are the result of a close collaboration between Josep and Joan – Josep breaks down the notes of a wine and Joan creates a dish to complement it. Jordi Roca – the youngest brother and dessert chef Desserts at El Celler de Can Roca also take on a modern twist.  Jordi Roca also studied at the Girona School of Hotel Industry and when finished he joined The Celler team. Here in the pastry and desserts section, he got to know Damian Allsop and discovered the secret of the craft of pastry. In 2000 when Allsop left El Celler de Can Roca, Jordi Roca became the manager of the restaurant desserts.  Jordi Roca is also the driving force behind Rocambolesc, an alternative but affordable vintage style ice cream shop in the center of Girona.   Also by the Roca Brothers: Mas Marroch – located on the outskirts of Girona it is the El Celler de Can Roca branch for banquets and celebrations. It is a 15th century masia surrounded by nature in the middle of fruit trees offering El Celler de Can Roca classic contempory cuisine for banquets and celebrations. Roca Moo – Barcelona Michelin 1 star restaurant in the Hotel Omm, Barcelona. Modern Catalan cuisine with a special twist, overseen by El Celler de Can Roca. Roca Bar – Barcelona Casual yet creative cuisine served in the lobby bar of the Hotel Omm, Barcelona. The Roca brothers take on street-food that also inludes an oyster bar and hand sliced Joselito ham. El Somni  a cross-media creation taking several forms: an ultimate dining experience, the making of a film, the conception of two exhibitions and the publishing of a book.  All outlining the process of creation and adventure and a union between the arts and the kitchen at the service of thought. El Celler de Can Roca On Tour - In August of 2014 El Celler de Can Roca  hit the road, literally, staff and all, with “Roca & Roll,” the Rocas’ response to numerous requests to open restaurants worldwide, bringing El Celler on a culinary tour [...]

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    We are delighted to announce the NEW MICHELIN Guide Spain and Portugal 2015 results! There was a great celebration tonight in Marbella, at the Hotel Los Monteros, following the announcement of the results for the New Spain and Portugal Michelin Guide 2015.  With the NEW, hot off the grill, results for the Michelin Guide for Spain 2015, the country is certainly sparkling for yet another a year !!!!! This year a mighty TWENTY new Michelin Stars were awarded to Spain!   * * *  NO  NEW Michelin 3 Star Restaurant in Spain 2015 * * * Strange, but true! No new Michelin 3 star restaurants will appear in the Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal for 2015. However, all eight of last years Michelin 3 Star Restaurants in Spain retained their magnificent status to head the list of the “crème de la crème” for yet another year! The 8 Wonders of Spain – Michelin 3* restaurants 2015 (in alphabetical order) Akelarre Michelin 3*Restaurant. Pedro Subijana (Guipúzcoa) Arzak Michelin 3*Restaurant. Juan Mari Arzak (Guipúzcoa) Azurmendi Michelin 3*Restaurant . Eneko Atxa (Vizcaya) DiverXO Michelin 3*Restaurant . David Muñoz (Madrid) El Celler de Can Roca Michelin 3*Restaurant . Joan Roca (Girona) Martín Berasategui Michelin 3*Restaurant. (Guipúzcoa) Quique Dacosta Michelin 3*Restaurant. (Alicante) Sant Pau Michelin 3*Restaurant. Carme Ruscalleda (Barcelona province)  * *  ONE NEW Michelin 2 Star Restaurant in Spain 2015 * * ONLY one new Michelin 2 star restaurant in Spain announced by the Michelin Guide Spain and Portugal 2015: Aponiente -  Angel León in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cádiz    *  19 NEW Michelin 1 Star Restaurants in Spain 2015 *   Mugaritz !!!  A regular deception in the Michelin Guide for Spain over recent years! Every year we all hope that the great 2 Michelin starred Basque restaurant, Mugaritz, will be promoted (after all it has been a World Top 10 restaurant since 2006 and is currently rated 6th Best Restaurant in the World by Restaurant Magazine).  No exception this year! Mugaritz restaurant did not receive a well deserved 3rd Michelin star. Barcelona city, yet again,  fails to receive that 3rd Michelin star, to be able to boast about a TriStar restaurant.  However, the city does maintain its fabulous four Michelin 2 star restaurants: ABaC (Jordi Cruz), Enoteca (Paco Pérez), Lasarte (Martín Berasategui) and Moments (Raül Balam), and numerous Michelin 1 star restaurants.   Congratulations to our wonderful Spanish Michelin Star Chefs!   With Spanish Chefs taking the World by storm, now is the time to visit Spain with 10% of the World’s Best Restaurants and numerous Michelin starred Restaurants!  On one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours you can indulge in the Best Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain.  Contact us for your personalized quote.

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    With the recent presentation of the Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal 2015, here’s a brief resume and the FULL LIST of Michelin Starred restaurants in Spain for 2015. NEW entries are higlighted in bold.   No NEW Michelin 3 star restaurants keeping the total of 8 Michelin 3 star restaurants in the Michelin Guide Spain for 2015: Akelarre. Pedro Subijana (Guipúzcoa) Arzak. Juan Mari Arzak (Guipúzcoa) Azurmendi. Eneko Atxa (Vizcaya) DiverXO. David Muñoz (Madrid) El Celler de Can Roca. Joan Roca (Girona) Martín Berasategui (Guipúzcoa) Quique Dacosta (Alicante) Sant Pau. Carme Ruscalleda (Barcelona province)   1 NEW Michelin 2 star restaurant bringing the total to 18 Michelin 2 star restaurants in the Michelin Guide Spain for 2015: Abac. Jordi Cruz (Barcelona) Aponiente. Ángel León – El Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz)  NEW Atrio. Toño Pérez (Cáceres) Calima. Dani García (Marbella) Casa Marcial. Nacho Manzano (Asturias) El Club Allard. María Marte (Madrid) El Portal. Francis Paniego (La Rioja) Enoteca. Paco Pérez (Barcelona) La terraza del Casino. Paco Roncero (Madrid) Lasarte. Martín Berasategui. (Barcelona) Les Cols. Fina Puigdevall (Girona) M.B. Martín Berasategui (Santa Cruz de Tenerife) Miramar. Paco Pérez (Girona) Moments. Raül Balam (Barcelona) Mugaritz. Andoni Luis Aduriz (Guipuzcoa) Ramón Freixa (Madrid) Santceloni. Óscar Velasco (Madrid) Sergi Arola Gastro (Madrid)     19 NEW Michelin 1 star restaurants in Spain, bringing the total to 143 Michelin 1 star restaurants in the Michelin Guide Spain for 2015: Andalucía Choco (Córdoba) La Costa (El Ejido) José Carlos García (Málaga) El Lago (Marbella) Skina (Marbella) Alejandro (Roquetas de Mar) Abantal (Sevilla)   Aragón Las Torres (Huesca) Lillas Pastia (Huesca) Tatau Bistro (Huesca)   NEW Hospedería El Batán (Tramacastilla) La Prensa (Zaragoza)   Asturias El Corral del Indianu (Arriondas) Auga (Gijón) La Salgar (Gijón) El Retiro (Llanes / Pancar)  NEW Casa Gerardo (Prendes) Arbidel (Ribadesella) Real Balneario (Salinas)   Baleares (Islands)   Zaranda (Mallorca / Es Capdellà) Andreu Genestra (Mallorca / Capdepera)  NEW Es Molí d’En Bou (Mallorca / Sa Coma) Es Racó d’Es Tix (Mallorca / Deià) Simply Fosh (Mallorca / Palma)   NEW Es Fum (Mallorca / Palmanova) Jardín (Mallorca / Port d’Alcudia) Can Dani (Formentera / Sant Ferrán de ses Roques)  NEW   Canarias (Islands)   Kabuki (Tenerife / Guía de Isora) Kazan (Tenerife / Santa Cruz de Tenerife)   NEW   Cantabria Solana (Ampuero / La Bien Aparecida) El Nuevo Molino (Puente Arce) Annua (San Vicente de la Barquera) El Serbal (Santander) Cenador de Amós (Villaverde de Pontones)   Castilla-La Mancha Maralba (Almansa) El Bohío (Illescas) La Casa del Carmen (Olías del Rey) Las Rejas (Las Pedroñeras) El Carmen de Montesión (Toledo)  NEW Tierra (Torrico / Valdepalacios)   Castilla y León Cocinandos (León) La Botica (Matapozuelos) La Lobita (Navaleno)  NEW Víctor Gutiérrez (Salamanca) Refectorio (Sardón de Duero)  NEW   Catalonia Les Magnòlies (Arbúcies) Ca l’Arpa (Banyoles) Alkimia (Barcelona) Angle (Barcelona) Caelis (Barcelona) Cinc Sentits (Barcelona) Comerç 24 (Barcelona) Dos Cielos (Barcelona) Dos Palillos (Barcelona) Gaig (Barcelona) Hisop (Barcelona) Hofmann (Barcelona) Koy Shunka (Barcelona) Manairó (Barcelona) Nectari (Barcelona) Neichel (Barcelona) Pakta (Barcelona)   NEW Roca Moo (Barcelona) Saüc (Barcelona) Tickets (Barcelona) Vía Veneto (Barcelona) Lluerna (Santa Coloma de Gramenet) Can Jubany (Calldetenes) Can Bosch (Cambrils) Rincón de Diego (Cambrils) Estany Clar (Cercs), Bo.Tic (Corçà) Malena (Gimenells) Massana (Girona) La Fonda Xesc (Gombrèn) Casamar (Llafranc) Els Tinars (Llagostera) Sala (Olot) Els Brancs (Roses / Playa de Canyelles Petites) Els Casals (Sagàs) L’Ó (Sant Fruitós de Bages) Fogony (Sort) Capritx (Terrassa) La Cuina de Can Simon (Tossa de Mar) Les Moles (Ulldecona) Ca l’Enric (La Vall de Bianya) Villa Retiro (Xerta)   Galicia Yayo Daporta (Cambados) A Estación (Cambre) Alborada (A Coruña) Árbore da Veira (A Coruña) Culler de Pau (O Grove / Reboredo) As Garzas (Malpica de Bergantiños / Porto Barizo) Nova (Ourense)   NEW Solla (Pontevedra / San Salvador de Poio) Pepe Vieira (Raxo) Retiro da Costiña (Santa Comba) Silabario (Tui) Maruja Limón (Vigo)   Madrid (Community) Casa José (Aranjuez) Coque (Humanes de Madrid) DSTAgE (Madrid)  NEW Kabuki (Madrid) Kabuki Wellington (Madrid) La Cabra (Madrid)  NEW Punto MX (Madrid)  NEW Álbora (Madrid)  NEW Montia (San Lorenzo de El Escorial)  NEW Chirón (Valdemoro)   Murcia (Region) La Cabaña de la Finca Buenavista (Murcia / El Palmar)   Navarra Europa (Iruña) Rodero (Iruña) El Molino de Urdániz (Urdaitz)   Basque Country   Boroa (Amorebieta / Boroa) Etxebarri (Axpe) Aizian (Bilbao)  NEW Etxanobe (Bilbao) Mina (Bilbao) Nerua (Bilbao) Zortziko (Bilbao) Kokotxa (Donostia) Mirador de Ulía (Donostia) Miramón Arbelaitz (Donostia) Marqués de Riscal (Elciego) Andra Mari (Galdakao) Elkano (Getaria)   NEW Alameda (Hondarribia) Zuberoa (Oiartzun) Zaldiarán (Vitoria)   La Rioja Venta Moncalvillo (Daroca de Rioja)   Valencia (Community) Monastrell (Alicante) L’Escaleta (Cocentaina) Casa Manolo (Daimús)   NEW Casa Alfonso (Dehesa de Campoamor) La Finca (Elche) Casa Pepa (Ondara) El Poblet (Valencia) La Sucursal (Valencia) Ricard Camarena (Valencia) Riff (Valencia) Vertical (Valencia) Cal Paradís (Vall d’Alba) BonAmb (Xàbia)   But it’s not all about giving. 3 restaurants lost their stars according to the inspector’s valuations and 6 lost them because they are either closed temporarily or permanently: L’Aliança d’Anglès (Anglès / Girona) Zalacain (Madrid) Bal d’Onsera (Zaragoza) 41º de Barcelona (Closed temporarily) Ars Natura de Cuenca (Closed temporarily) Delacalle de Aranjuez (Closed) La Llar de Castelló d’Empúries (Closed) Mas Pau de Figueres (Closed) Julio de Fontanars dels Aforins (Closed)   With Spanish Chefs taking the World by storm, now is the time to visit Spain with 10% of the World’s Best Restaurants and numerous Michelin starred Restaurants!  On one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours you can indulge in the Best Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain.  Contact us for your personalized quote.  

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    Spain’s wine history dates back to pre-Roman times, but it is only over the past few decades that the quality of Spanish Wine has significantly improved throughout the whole country and led to Spanish Wine being exported, sought after and enjoyed all over the World.  Wine is BIG in Spain and vines are cultivated all over the country! Spain is a vast country with differing climates and soils and all of the autonomous communities of Spain produce wine with their own grape varieties, Regulatory Councils and specific types. Due to the expanse of the land – Spain has around 3 million acres of vines planted- climates and types of grapes, there are numerous Wine Regions in Spain resulting in a fantastic variety of Spanish Wine. The best-known Spanish wines, however, are Cava, Rioja, and Sherry which are three very different wines made in three very different regions. Quality Spanish wines are classified using a system based on the “Denominación de Origen” or “DO”, designated origin, which determines where each wine has been produced. Spanish wine laws created the “DO” system in 1932 and it was later revised in 1970. The “DO” system is similar to the Appellation d’origine contrôlée “AOC” system of France, the Denominação de Origem Controlada “DOC” of Portugal and the Denominazione di origine controllata “DOC” of Italy. In addition to the “DO” system in Spain there is also the Denominación de Origen Calificada “DOCa” or “DOQ” in Catalan, a status for DOs that have a consistent track record for quality. There are currently only two DOCa/DOQ regions in Spain: Rioja and Priorat. In 2009, there were 79 Quality DO Wine regions across Spain, but undoubtedly, the most well-known Spanish DO Wine Region, especially for its red wine, is La Rioja – also a DOCa/DOQ Wine Region of Spain. There are, however, many other Spanish wine regions that produce high quality red wines, like Ribera del Duero or the other DOCa/DOQ wine region of Priorat. Although the known type of Spanish wine is red wine, Spain also produces high quality white wines, especially in Galicia, Cava and Jerez (sherry) which is produced in the south, near Jerez in Andalusia. Over the coming weeks we’ll be showcasing some of the DO Wine Regions of Spain in our “Gourmand Breaks DO the Wine Regions of Spain” series like: Bierzo Spanish Wine D.O. Region Catalunya Spanish Wine D.O. Region Cava Spanish Wine D.O. Region Conca de Barberá Spanish Wine D.O. Region Costers del Segre Spanish Wine D.O. Region Empordá Spanish Wine D.O. Region Jerez Spanish Wine D.O. Region Jumilla Spanish Wine D.O. Region Navarra Spanish Wine D.O. Region Penedes Spanish Wine D.O. Region Pla de Bages Spanish Wine D.O. Region Priorat Spanish Wine D.O.Q. Region Rias Baixas Spanish Wine D.O. Region Ribeiro Spanish Wine D.O. Region Ribera del Duero Spanish Wine D.O. Region Rioja Spanish Wine D.O.Ca. Region Rueda Spanish Wine D.O. Region Somontano Spanish Wine D.O. Region Tarragona Spanish Wine D.O. Region Terra Alta Spanish Wine D.O. Region Toro Spanish Wine D.O. Region Txacoli Spanish Wine D.O. Region Utiel-Requena Spanish Wine D.O. Region Valdepeñas Spanish Wine D.O. Region Valencia Spanish Wine D.O. Region   If you love Wine you can’t miss Spain! Join us on a Private Wine Tour of Spain like our Wine Connoisseur Tour of Spain to explore the Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedes Wine Regions of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic wineries.

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    North American Wine specialist magazine “Wine Spectator “ has included 8 Spanish Wines in their annual Top 100 Wines of the World List for 2014. Wine Regions of Spain included in the Top 100 list include La Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Bierzo, Castilla La Mancha and a fortified wine from Andalusia: Viña Ardanza Reserva 2005 (34th place) Abadía Retuerta Viño de la Tierra de Castilla y León Sardon de Duero Selección Especial 2010 (50th place) Viña Cumbrero Crianza 2010 (62nd place) Cune Monopole Blanco 2014 (64th place) Godelia Mencía 2010 (68th place) Cabernet Sauvignon Dominio de Valdepusa 2010 (79th place) Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2005 (84th place) Antonio Barbadillo Manzanilla Sanlúcar (95th place)   Since 1988, each year, Wine Spectator magazine editors study the wines that have been reviewed over the previous 12 months and select their Top 100 Wines of the World list. This year, 8 Spanish Wines form The wines are classified on a scale from 85 to 100 points (pts) based on quality, value, availability and excitement. This annual list acknowledges successful wineries, regions and vintages from all around the world. If you love Wine you can’t miss Spain! Join us on a Private Wine Tour of Spain like our Wine Connoisseur Tour of Spain to explore the Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedes Wine Regions of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic wineries. TOP 100 WINES FULL LIST : Here’s the complete Top 100 Wines of the World list, 2014, according to Wine Spectator Magazine with their corresponding punctuation (Pts): # Wine Vtge Pts 1 Dow’s Vintage Port 2011 99 2 Mollydooker Shiraz McLaren Vale Carnival of Love 2012 95 3 Prats & Symington Douro Chryseia 2011 97 4 Quinta do Vale Meão Douro 2011 97 5 Leeuwin Chardonnay Margaret River Art Series 2011 96 6 Castello di Ama Chianti Classico San Lorenzo Gran Selezione 2010 95 7 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2012 97 8 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills 2012 94 9 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Don Melchor 2010 95 10 Château Léoville Las Cases St.-Julien 2011 95 11 Mount Eden Vineyards Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains 2011 95 12 Château Guiraud Sauternes 2011 97 13 Fonseca Vintage Port 2011 98 14 Fontodi Colli della Toscana Centrale Flaccianello 2011 95 15 Bedrock The Bedrock Heritage Sonoma Valley 2012 95 16 Two Hands Shiraz Barossa Valley Bella’s Garden 2012 95 17 Soter Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton District Mineral Springs Ranch 2012 95 18 Château Doisy-Védrines Barsac 2011 95 19 Luca Malbec Uco Valley 2012 93 20 Peter Michael Chardonnay Knights Valley Ma Belle-Fille 2012 95 21 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2010 93 22 Podere Sapaio Bolgheri Volpolo 2011 93 23 St.-Cosme Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2010 96 24 Massolino Barolo 2009 95 25 Bodegas y Viñedos O. Fournier Malbec Uco Valley Alfa Crux 2010 94 26 Emeritus Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Hallberg Ranch 2011 93 27 Quinta do Portal Douro Colheita 2011 92 28 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011 94 29 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir Hemel-en-Aarde Valley 2012 93 30 DuMOL Syrah Russian River Valley 2012 94 31 Tommasi Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon Toscana Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo 2011 92 32 Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 55% Slope 2009 93 33 Orin Swift Machete California 2012 93 34 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva 2005 92 35 Amavi Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2011 92 36 Marcassin Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Marcassin Vineyard 2009 97 37 Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco Rabajà 2010 94 38 Aubert Chardonnay Russian River Valley Eastside 2012 95 39 Oddero Barolo 2010 93 40 Loosen Bros. Riesling QbA Mosel Dr. L 2012 91 41 Rombauer Chardonnay Carneros 2012 92 42 Lapostolle Clos Apalta Limited Release Colchagua Valley 2010 94 43 Charles Smith Riesling Columbia Valley Kung Fu Girl Evergreen 2013 91 44 Viña Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenère Colchagua Valley 2011 91 45 Tikal Patriota Mendoza 2012 91 46 Turley Zinfandel California Juvenile 2012 91 47 Luce della Vite Toscana Luce 2011 95 48 Fincas Patagonicas Malbec Mendoza Zolo Reserve 2012 91 49 Trimbach Riesling Alsace 2012 91 50 Abadia Retuerta Viño de la Tierra de Castilla y León Sardon de Duero Selección Especial   2010 92 51 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate 2010 97 52 Herman Story Grenache California On the Road 2011 93 53 Ponzi Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Tavola 2012 91 54 Mumm Napa Brut Napa Valley Prestige NV 91 55 Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley El Caballero 2011 90 56 João Portugal Ramos Alentejo Ramos Reserva 2012 90 57 Viña Bisquertt Syrah Colchagua Valley La Joya Gran Reserva 2012 90 58 TwentyFour Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2010 93 59 Peter Lehmann Clancy’s Barossa 2011 90 60 St.-Urbans-Hof Riesling QbA Mosel Old Vines 2012 90 61 De Martino Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Legado Reserva 2011 92 62 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Viña Cumbrero Crianza   2010 90 63 Buitenverwachting Sauvignon Blanc Constantia Bayten 2013 90 64 Cune Rioja White Monopole   2013 90 65 Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore 2011 96 66 Fowles Shiraz Victoria Are You Game? 2012 91 67 Tohu Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Single Vineyard 2013 90 68 Godelia Mencía Bierzo   2010 92 69 Feudo di Santa Croce Primitivo di Manduria LXXIV 2010 91 70 D. Kourtakis Assyrtiko Santorini Greek Wine Cellars 2012 90 71 Roar Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands Rosella’s Vineyard 2012 93 72 Château Lilian Ladouys St.-Estèphe 2011 90 73 Gérard Bertrand Syrah-Grenache Languedoc 2011 90 74 di Majo Norante Molise Ramitello 2011 90 75 Disznókó´ Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2006 94 76 Vietti Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne 2012 90 77 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Château d’Ampuis 2010 97 78 Acrobat Pinot Noir Oregon 2012 90 79 Marqués de Griñon Cabernet Sauvignon Dominio de Valdepusa   2010 93 80 Nino Negri Valtellina Superiore Quadrio 2010 90 81 Domaine de Triennes Vin de Pays du Var St.-Auguste 2010 90 82 Mulderbosch Faithful Hound Stellenbosch 2011 91 83 Round Pond Estate Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford 2013 90 84 Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta [...]

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    Ribera del Duero Spanish Wine D.O. Region is located in the autonomous community of Castile and León. The principle Red Grape Variety of the Ribera del Duero DO Wine Region of Spain is Tempranillo (Tinto Fino or Tinta del País). Others include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Garnacha Tinta.   Quality Spanish wines are classified, using a system called the “Denominación de Origen” or “D.O.”, which in English translates as “designated origin”, to determine where they were produced. Spanish wine laws first created the “D.O.” system in 1932 and each “denominación” D.O. has its corresponding regional regulatory council or “Consejo Regulador”. The Ribera del Duero Denominación de Origen (D.O.) was founded in 1982. Ribera del Duero Spanish Wine DO region has seen significant replanting since the late 80s and nowadays a modern and very professional approach has been taken to vineyard management and harvesting, which was vital to achieve quality in view of the challenges caused by spring frost, hail and autumn rains.  Substantial investment in upgrading or the apparition of completely new bodegas has also taken place at a fast pace since the Spanish DO of Ribera del Duero was established. The Ribera del Duero Wine Region of Spain is characterized by a largely flat, rocky terrain, centered on the town of Aranda de Duero. The vineyards of Ribera del Duero Spanish DO Wine Region are sited to the north and south of the River Duero which runs from east to west though its centre with the most famous vineyards surrounding Peñafiel (featuring a castle where there is a very interesting wine museum) and Roa de Duero to the west. Ribera del Duero Spanish Wine DO Region was the first to open up the red wine making potential of the DueroValley.  It has significantly grown to rival Rioja in terms of prestige and reputation and provides a welcome diversity at the top end of the quality Spanish wine spectrum.    The success of Ribera del Duero Spanish wines is due to the Tempranillo grape, which is used almost exclusively by producers to make reds with various ageing credentials and rosés.   The main focus in the region is however, oak aged wines of a very high caliber which are capable of many years of ageing. A significant factor where quality is concerned is the high altitude of the vineyards – most of them are located at 750-800 metres above sea level. There is therefore, a wide variation in temperature especially during the summer, when it is not unusual to reach 35˚C during the day and as low as 12˚C at night during August which encourages the vines to rest and favors grapes with lively acidity and concentration. Special mention should also be made to the fact that the Ribera del Duero Wine Region of Spain was awarded Best Wine Region of the World, in 2012, by ‘Wine Enthusiast Magazine’. If you love Wine you can’t miss the Wine Regions of Spain! Join us on a Private Wine Tour of Spain like our Wine Connoisseur Tour of Spain to explore the Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedes Wine Regions of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic wineries and taste some great Spanish wines.      

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    Our Gourmand Breaks DO the Vineyards series is covering some of the great Wine Regions of Spain. First, and in no particular order, we presented the excellent Ribera del Duero Spanish Wine D.O. Region and now it’s the turn of the young and up and coming Bierzo Spanish Wine D.O. Region.  Located in the autonomous community of Castile and León some exciting Spanish Wines are being produced in the Bierzo DO Wine Region of Spain with the principle Red Grape Variety being Mencía.  Quality Spanish wines are classified, using a system called the “Denominación de Origen” or “D.O.”, which in English translates as “designated origin”, to determine where they were produced. Spanish wine laws first created the “D.O.” system in 1932 and each “denominación” D.O. has its corresponding regional regulatory council or “Consejo Regulador”.  The Bierzo Denominación de Origen (D.O.) was recognized in 1989.  The young, up and coming, Spanish Wine DO Region of Bierzo, is tucked away in the north western corner of Castile and León, somewhat removed from the main hub of the Duero Valley but still attracts a great deal of interest.  Thanks to the impressive wine making skills of both local Bierzo winemakers and those from other Spanish wine DO regions that have recognized its potential here, Bierzo DO Region red wines, made from the Mencia grape, are developing into something quite exciting. The Mencia vine is comfortable in Bierzo’s Wine DO Region mild climate and slate soils which combine to produce a wine which is more structured than the light, fruity reds of Galicia but leaner than the powerful styles of the Duero. They have a character of their own which brings a welcome diversity to Spanish red wines with their dark chocolate and black fruit flavors which are enhanced by French oak. The climate and wines of the Bierzo Wine Region of Spain  could be described as a mix between Galicia and Castille. The Bierzo DO Wine region of Spain covers 22 municipalities, including the largest town of the area, Ponferrada, and an attractive mix of castles, vineyards, pine forests and delightful mountain scenery. The area consists of numerous small valleys in the mountainous part called Alto Bierzo and a wide, flat plain called Bajo Bierzo. The focal point for wine is the market town of Cacabelos, a popular place for pilgrims to rest along the Camino de Santiago. Bierzo DO wines must be elaborated exclusively with the following varieties: Mencía, Garnacha Tintorera, Godello, Doña Blanca and Palomino. If you love Wine you can’t miss the Wine Regions of Spain! Join us on a Private Wine Tour of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic Spanish Wine Regions and wineries and taste some great Spanish wines.   Some Top Bierzo DO winemakers include: Descendientes de J. Palacios -  Villafranca del Bierzo Alvaro Palacios, credited with putting the Priorat Wine region of Spain on the map in the 1990s, along with his nephew Ricardo Pérez, pay respect to their subsequent father and grandfather with this fantastic Bierzo DO Winery. They have completely restored the old stone bodega although their first priorities are the vineyards. Las Lamas, La Faraona and Moncerbal are not only the names of 3 great Bierzo DO Wines but also the vineyards that give the Wine it’s independent and particular character. Dominio Tares – San Román de Bembibre A collective venture uniting various young oenologists with a healthy obsession for old mencia and godello vines to produce the interesting wines of Godello F.B, Baltos, Cepas Viejas, Bembibre and Tares P-3. Prada a Tope – Canedo In the 18th century, the nobility of Canedo had their own vineyards and a cellar storing over 32,000 liters of good wine. Prada A Tope continues with this tradition and recovered the abandoned land and hillsides. Their respect for the land combined with ecological and traditional methods produce authentic wines.  Pittacum – Arganza del Bierzo The Terras Gauda Group  acquired Bodegas Pittacum  in 2002 with a clear idea of making quality wines with a mencia marked personality. Quality red wines are produced from the grapes of an ancient vineyard where they are later aged in oak barrels. Paixar – Cacabelos A joint venture between Alejandro Luna, owner of the Luna Beberide winery and Eduardo and Alberto Garcia, sons of Mariano Garcia, one of Spain’s top winemakers – ex winemaker of Vega Sicilia in the Ribera del Duero Wine Region of Spain and founder of the Mauro winery. These young wine-makers focus on the production of a unique expression of Mencia, using Luna Beberide for vinification and a conditioned subterranean bodega in a Palace-house in Villafranca del Bierzo for ageing. Castro Ventoso – Valtuille de Abajo Founded in 1752 by the Perz Family and family-owned ever since. They produce five different Mencía wines; Valtuille, El Castro de Valtuille, El Castro de Valtuille “Joven Mencia”, El Castro de Valtuille “Mencia Selección” and Castro Ventosa Vintage. Their trademark Valtuille wine is made from five plots with pre-phyloxeric vineyards that are located on the only sandy soil found in Bierzo. Bodega del Abad – Carracedelo Inaugurated in June 2003, Bodega del Abad offers modern facilities and technological innovations for the elaboration of its wines, which allow a thorough quality control of the whole process from start to end. Their 100% grape variety wines are represented by the Vinos Abad Dom Bueno range and the Gotín del Risc range, both using 100% Mencia or Godello and the singular Carracedo  – 100% Mencia.    

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    Our Gourmand Breaks DO the Vineyards series is covering some of the great Wine Regions of Spain like our previous posts of the Ribera del Duero and Bierzo DO Wine Regions. With the Christmas holidays just around the corner, now is the perfect time to introduce some bubbles and the Cava D.O region of Spain. Cava is a sparkling Spanish wine that is permitted to be produced in various wine regions, however the majority is produced in the Penedès area of Catalonia. Quality Spanish wines are classified, using a system called the “Denominación de Origen” or “D.O.”, which in English translates as “designated origin”, to determine where they were produced. Spanish wine laws first created the “D.O.” system in 1932 and each “denominación” D.O. has its corresponding regional regulatory council or “Consejo Regulador”. The Cava Denominación de Origen (D.O.) was officially recognized in 1986. Because of its immense impact on the culture and economy of Catalonia, Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) has its own Destination of Origin (D.O.). Cava comes in four variations: brut, dry, semi-dry and sweet. This celebrative libation—made from Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes—is usually served in a glass flute to highlight the bubbles sparkling upward. Cava holds a special place in the hearts of Catalans because it represents the viticultural renaissance Catalonia had in the mid-19th century. A phylloxera epidemic had previously wiped out almost all the region’s vineyards—many of which had been growing grapes for centuries. But when the microbiological research of Louis Pasteur was used both to overcome this epidemic and enable control of the second fermentation for sparkling wines, Catalonia’s vineyard culture was revived. The joy of this revival can also be seen in the great care some of the most popular Modernist architects put into new wine cellars, like the one at Codorniu by Puig i Cadafalch. Cava originated in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia with the research and experimentations of people like the Raventós family, who still own Codorniu cava. Sant Sadurní d’Anoia still produces 75 percent of the 200 million bottles made every year in Catalonia. This is also where Cava Week is held in the beginning of October, complete with a Cava Queen, her speech and a train to tour different cellars. Sant Sadurní d’Anoia and its surrounding areas in the Penedés region are ideal for cava production because its soils are calcareous and permeable to water while the typical Mediterranean climate offers many sunny days during mild winters and not excessively warm summers. Cava DO Wine Region of Spain White Grape Varieties: Mostly Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, but in a few areas Chardonnay, Subirat Parent, Malvasia Riojana Cava DO Wine Region of Spain Rosé Grape Varietes: Garnacha Tinta, Monastrell, Trepat, Pinot Noir   If you love Sparkling Wine you can’t miss the Cava Wine Region of Spain! To learn more about the cava-making process join us on a private wine tour including the Cava DO Wine Region of Spain: Private Luxury Wine Tours Some fantastic Cava Wineries in Spain you could be visiting : Agustí Torelló Mata Codorníu    

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    If you love Wine then don’t miss our series on the Wine Regions of Spain.  Our Gourmand Breaks DO the Vineyards series is covering some of the great Wine Regions of Spain, like our previous posts of the Ribera del Duero, Bierzo and Cava DO Wine Regions. New Year is just around the corner, and the sparkling Spanish Wine of Cava will feature in many meals on New Years Eve. The majority of Cava is produced in the Penedès area of Catalonia, a D.O wine region in itself that produces some great Spanish Wines. The Penedès DO Wine Region of Spain spans the provinces of Barcelona and Tarragona in the region of Catalonia. The DO of Penedès Wine Region of Spain is where Spain’s modern-day wine-making revolution started. By the 1970′s stainless steel tanks had been adopted here and the area began to develop in wine terms with similar dynamism to the nearby city of Barcelona.  The area stretches from the coast to the higher altitudes inland and it features an array of hillsides, coves and valleys providing a rich choice of terroirs for the viticulturalist and winemaker.  Penedès divides into three areas. The lowest “baix-Penedès” (0-250m) is home to the white Cava grapes Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada. In the middle “mitja-Penedès” (250-500m) Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon perform well as do the Cava trio. The highest “alt-Penedès” (500-800m), taking in some of the highest vineyards in Europe, is where Chardonnay and other cool climate varieties are grown as well as the finest Parellada grapes. The Roman influence in the Penedès led to the cultivation of different red varieties, imported by the Phoenicians and Greeks from the Middle East and Egypt. But the real evolution of the vine and the winemaking in the Penedès took place in the 6th Century AD, because the heart of Mediterranean wine culture was centred in the Penedès. The via Augusta, which crossed the Penedès, from the puente del Diablo [Devil's Bridge] to the Arco de Berà [Arch of Berà] was the centre for the wine selling. The well placed geographical position of the Penedès converted this land into an important production area, increasing its prestige in time both in the production of white and red wines. Despite the fact that red wines were more highly prized than whites, as happened all over the Mediterranean, it was said that the white wines were the better offer to Bacchus. The production of quality wines continued until the Middle Ages, the Arab invasion was of no benefit to the cultivation of vines in certain areas of the Penedès, but the period of domination was not very long and vines continued to be grown in the region. A factor which contributed in a decisive manner to the continuation of the vine in Catalonia was the need, from the poorest of parishes to the richest monastery, (basically those of the Cistercian and Benedictine orders) to have wine available for holding mass. The old white varieties that are more acidic were used for distilling and making brandy. One century later, overproduction affected the Penedès and for this reason many varieties were eliminated in order to plant vines of higher quality. The technique used in the distillation process was very similar to that currently in use. The first brandies were distilled in the 14th Century, following the secret formulae of Arnau de vilanova. The varieties were distilled in copper stills and followed a process of ageing over a long period in oak casks.  At the end of the 19th Century, specifically in 1872, the “sparkling wine of the Penedès” came to life. After the catastrophe caused by phylloxera, the renewal of the vines allowed for important evolution, as right from the very start cavas of very high quality were made that in a very short period of time were conquering very large markets. During this century cava has kept up this quality tendency supported by the wine growing sector. White grapes dominate the D.O Penedes wine production; there is a slight downward trend in the volumes produced for Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada and an upward trend for Chardonnay and other aromatic white varieties. Red varieties are increasingly favoured, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Merlot while the ancient traditional variety Samsó is enjoying a renaissance.  The Consejo Regulador of Penedès has recently introduced the classification “Vino Dulce de Frío”, an ice wine equivalent. This natural sweet wine can be made from a wide variety of grapes including Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, authorised Moscatel varieties and Riesling. The D.O. Penedès Wine Region of Spain is noted for its excellent white wines, fresh, fruity and with moderate alcohol content, while its reds are soft, with velvety texture and character. The Penedès rosé wines are fragrant and fruity. There are some outstanding sparkling wines, with intense and persistent aromas. The flagship grape variety of this region, which stands out among the 18 authorized varieties, is Xarel.lo making it the icon of the Penedès Denominació d’Origen. The 2010 vintage has been clearly marked by the weather. The rain fall on the 20th August forced an early start to the vintage, making the selection of grapes in the vineyard key to the quality of the wines of the D.O. Penedès the last year. Of one thing wecan be very sure, and that is that the raw materials – the grapes – brought into the cellars during the 2010 harvest were of a very good quality. Penedes Spanish Wine DO Principal white grapes: Macabeo, Xarel-lo, Parellada, Subirat-Parent (Malvasía Riojana) and Chardonnay. Others: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Muscatel varieties (Muscat d’Alexandrie and Frontignan) Penedes Spanish Wine DO Principal red grapes: Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tinta, Cariñena, Monastrell, Samsó and Merlot. Others: Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Syrah   If you love Wine you can’t miss the Wine Regions of Spain! Join us on a Private Wine Tour of Spain like our Wine Connoisseur Tour of Spain to explore the Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedes Wine Regions of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some [...]

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    Our Gourmand Breaks DO the Vineyards series is covering some of the great Wine Regions of Spain. Quality Spanish wines are classified using a system based on the “Denominación de Origen” or “DO”, designated origin, which determines where each wine has been produced. Spanish wine laws created the “DO” system in 1932 and it was later revised in 1970. In addition to the “DO” system in Spain there is also the Denominación de Origen Calificada “DOCa” or “DOQ” in Catalan, a status for DOs that have a consistent track record for quality. There are currently only two DOCa/DOQ regions in Spain: Rioja and Priorat. Located partly within the Basque country, Rioja  DOCa  Wine Region of Spain is perhaps best known for red wines and the Tempranillo grape. The Rioja Spanish Wine DO Ca region’s red wines cover many different styles from young wines through to more sophisticated wines which are capable of many years of cellaring – proving the versatility of Tempranillo. Some producers also offer white wines, including some fine barrel-fermented and oak-aged styles and rosés.  The best known of the Spanish wine DO regions, Rioja Spanish Wine DOCa carefully preserves its wine styles but interestingly there are some modern trends which are starting to show through. Rioja Spanish DOCa wines are mainly aged according to strict specifications and not released until they are considered to be ready to be drunk, which is unique to this part of the wine world. Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva, the various ageing categories are indicated on the back label of each bottle. With an indication often given of other grapes which may have been utilised in the blend.   For example, Tempranillo is supported by Graciano, Garnacha and Mazuelo depending on the producer and even Cabernet Sauvignon occasionally. More especially in barrel aged wines, this gives Rioja Spanish Wine DOCa region wines their very distinctive style.  Not all Rioja Spanish Wine DOCa region wines follow the traditional age classifications and indeed some modern types of wines have more focus on a specific vineyard, reflecting the strong interest among producers to offer wines with distinctive local character. The first Spanish Rioja bodegas date from 1870-1890 but the region expanded dramatically and established its reputation at home and abroad during the 20th century. The early years of this century has a new wave of modern architecture appearing on the landscape and also for new cellars many metres under ground.  Wineries/Cellars designed by famous architects such as Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry now stand next to those with an historic background, making Rioja Spanish Wine DOCa region an incredible place to visit for wine, food, spectacular scenery and architecture. The main towns on Rioja’s wine routes include Haro, Labastida, Cenicero and Elciego, which all have a concentration of wineries with tours and tastings available. Rioja Spanish Wine DOCa Region Principal Red Grape Varieties: Tempranillo (approximately 80% of all varieties planted), Graciano, Garnacha, Mazuelo. Other authorised red varieties: Maturana Tinta Rioja Spanish Wine DOCa Region Principal White Grape Varieties: Viura, Malvasía, Garnacha Blanca. Other authorised white varieties: Maturana Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco, Turruntés, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo If you love Wine you can’t miss the Wine Regions of Spain! Join us on a Private Wine Tour of Spain like our Wine Connoisseur Tour of Spain to explore the Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedes Wine Regions of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic wineries and taste some great Spanish wines. Some of the wineries you might visit in the La Rioja DOCa Wine Region of Spain are: Marques de Murrieta Artadi  Miguel Merino

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    Wine from the Spanish Priorat region is not only the most highly regarded in Catalonia—it is some of the best in the world. That is why it has been granted its elite label of D.O.Q., or Qualified Destination of Origin. Quality Spanish wines are classified using a system based on the “Denominación de Origen” or “DO”, designated origin, which determines where each wine has been produced. Spanish wine laws created the “DO” system in 1932 and it was later revised in 1970. In addition to the “DO” system in Spain there is also the Denominación de Origen Calificada “DOCa” or “DOQ” in Catalan, a status for DOs that have a consistent track record for quality. There are currently only two DOCa/DOQ regions in Spain: Rioja and Priorat. Perhaps what gives the wine in the Priorat Wine Region of Spain its famous and unique personality are all the extremes in both its climate and beautiful geography. In addition to sharp temperature fluctuations between night and day, this slate-soiled land is full of majestic cliffs and steep hillsides where terraces sometimes have to be built to grow parts of vineyards. The most planted grape varieties in the Priorat Wine Region of Spain are red ones, with Carinyena (Carignan) and Garnatxa (Grenache) being the most important and recommended native varieties. The permitted grape varieties of the DOQ Priorat Wine Region of Spain are the following: Red Priorat Grape Varieties: Grenache, Carignan, Hairy Grenache, Tempranillo, Piquepoul, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah. White Priorat Grape Varieties: Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Pedro Ximinez, Chenin Blanc, Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Xarello, Piquepoul   Part of the Priorat region overlaps with another highly esteemed region, the Montsant DO, where the Capçanes cellers produce kosher wines in accordance with Jewish tradition in addition to other high quality wines. Montsant Wine Region of Spain Grape Varieties: Red Montsant Grape Varieties: Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon, Samsó, Mazuela, Garnacha Tinta, Garnacha Peluda, Merlot, Monastrell, Picapoll  and Syrah White Montsant Grape Varieties: Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Chardonnay, Muscat, Parellada, Pansal   Among the most interesting spots in the region is where the Carthusian Priory (or Priorat) of Scala Dei founded its first monastery on the Iberian Peninsula in the 12th century. This site, situated at the foot of the Montsant mountain range, is where the region’s winemaking tradition originated. The society thrived there until 1835 when the church shut the monastery operations down, but the ruins can still be toured through alongside vineyards that are stronger than ever before. In 1900 an outbreak of phylloxera devastated the region’s vineyards and, as the textile industry was taking off in Catalonia, entire work forces fled to the city to work.  New vines were therefore not planted again, except on a small scale, which fortunately, is what remains today. Some twenty odd years ago, the Priorat region was on the verge of extinction, with grape prices so low that this was one of Spain’s most impoverished regions. It took a few visionaries to realise Priorat’s potential and most people agree that René Barbier initiated the Priorat revival. In the 1980s he established a co-operative that put its first wine on the market in 1991 and the rest, as they say, is history. While refining your palate, you may also want to note this region’s production of world-class olive oils, which are also classified into DOs. One of the best olive oils comes from the Priorat town of Siurana, which is set upon a mountain rounded with austere cliffs. As the last Moorish stronghold in Catalonia, this town also comes with its own set of intriguing historical legends.   If you love Wine you can’t miss the Wine Regions of Spain! Join us on a Private Wine Tour of Spain like our Wine Connoisseur Tour of Spain to explore the Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedes Wine Regions of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic wineries and taste some great Spanish wines. Some of the wineries you might visit in the Priorat DOQ Wine Region of Spain are:   Alvaro Palacios in Priorat Costers del Siurana Gratavinum Spanish Winery Mas Blanc Pinord Mas Doix Spanish Winery    More of our Gourmand Breaks DO the Wine Regions of Spain: Bierzo Spanish Wine D.O. Region Cava Spanish Wine D.O. Region Jerez Spanish Wine D.O. Region Penedes Spanish Wine D.O. Region Ribera del Duero Spanish Wine D.O. Region Rioja Spanish Wine D.O.Ca. Region

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    Our Gourmand Breaks DO the Vineyards series is covering some of the great Wine Regions of Spain: Ribera del Duero, Priorat, La Rioja …… and now the Jerez Spanish Wine D.O. Region.  Located in the autonomous community of Andalucia the Jerez Wine D.O region produces world-renowned sherry. Quality Spanish wines are classified, using a system called the “Denominación de Origen” or “D.O.”, which in English translates as “designated origin”, to determine where they were produced. Spanish wine laws first created the “D.O.” system in 1932 and each “denominación” D.O. has its corresponding regional regulatory council or “Consejo Regulador”. The Jerez Spanish Wine DO Region is based around the three Spanish towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. All Spanish sherry producers source their grapes from the bright, chalky ‘albariza’ soils of Jerez.   The main sherry grape in the Jerez Spanish Wine DO Region, Palomino, thrives in the vineyards here alongside the other two key grapes – Pedro Ximénez, which makes a rich, black, raisiny wine for blending and treacle-like dessert wines and Moscatel which makes a lighter dessert wine. Before the phylloxera infestation in 1894, there were over an estimated 100 grape varieties used to make Sherry in Spain but now there are only three white grapes grown for Sherry-making: Palomino: the dominant grape used for the dry sherries. Approximately 90 per cent of the grapes grown for Sherry are Palomino. Pedro Ximénez: used to produce sweet wines. When harvested these grapes are typically dried in the sun for two days to concentrate their sugars. Moscatel: used similarly to Pedro Ximénez, but it is less common. Spanish Sherry wines in the Jerez Spanish Wine DO Region mature in large 500 litre barrels made of oak, which are arranged in three row high ‘soleras’. The young wines are poured into the top row and wine is then transferred downwards enabling the fresher wines to blend with those of more maturity and a consistent style for each bodega year after year. The wines in the Jerez Spanish Wine DO Region fall into three broad categories: Very dry Manzanillas and Finos to  richer amber and mahogany coloured Amontillados, Olorosos and the rare Palo Cortado style. Sweeter sherries include pale cream, medium and cream. Finally there are natural sweet sherries which are made from the Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes. The alcoholic strength of sherries ranges from 15.5˚ for the lightest styles (Manzanilla and Fino) to 22˚ for sweeter wines.  In the Jerez Spanish Wine DO Region there is a long association with the UK,  where sherry has been enjoyed for over 400 years, indeed many names of the original English, Scottish or Irish sherry shippers can still be seen in the industry today. Jerez Spanish Wine DO Region principal  Grape Varieties:  Palomino, Pedro Ximenez, Moscatel. If you love Wine you can’t miss the Wine Regions of Spain! Join us on a Private Wine Tour of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic Spanish Wine Regions and wineries and taste some great Spanish wines. Just some of the great wineries you may be visiting in the Jerez Wine Region of Spain: Lustau – boutique sherry winery, 15 min walk from the station, In 2013 they won the Best Sherry of the World Award in IWSP International Wine and Spirit Competition. The House of Sandeman Jerez – Sandeman’s Sherry Visitor Centre is in a perfect location, close to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in the heart of the city of Jerez de la Frontera, in the south of Spain. Gonzalez Byass Winery - The Gonzalez Byass collection of Vintage Sherries are amongst the rarest wines in he world. The founder was mentored by his uncle, who was affectionately known as Pepe, and what is now the world’s best-selling Fino was named after him – Tio Pepe (“tio” being Spanish for uncle).   More of our Gourmand Breaks DO the Wine Regions of Spain series: Bierzo Spanish Wine D.O. Region Cava Spanish Wine D.O. Region Penedes Spanish Wine D.O. Region Priorat Spanish Wine D.O.Q. Region Ribera del Duero Spanish Wine D.O. Region Rioja Spanish Wine D.O.Ca. Region

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    The  Portuguese wine region of Alentejo is a vast, sun-drenched area in the south, covering around a third of Portugal. Actually, only five per cent of the land is planted with vines and between towns, you can drive for miles passing cork and olive groves, vines, crops and grazing livestock. Portugal is divided into 14 Regional Wine areas : Vinho Verde, Trás-os-Montes, Porto and Douro, Távora-Varosa, Bairrada, Dão, Beira Interior, Lisboa, Tejo, Península de Setúbal, Alentejo, Algarve, Açores and Madeira. Portuguese wine is then categorized using the ‘DOC’ (Denominação de Origem Controlada) system meaning Controlled Denomination of Origin. Portugal has 31 DOCs/DOPs. At the moment, both the traditional DOC and the new pan-European DOP are used. ‘DOP’ (Denominação de Origem Protegida) means Protected Denomination of Origin. The “DOC/DOP” system is similar to the Denominación de Origen “DO” system of Spain, the Appellation d’origine contrôlée “AOC” system of France and the Denominazione di origine controllata “DOC” of Italy. DOC Alentejo wines can be made only in certain small enclaves within the greater Vinho Regional Alentejo region. For the purpose of regulating grape-growing and wine-making in the varying microclimates and terrains, DOC Alentejo is divided into eight different sub-regions: Portalegre, Borba, Redondo, Vidigueira, Reguengos, Moura, Évora and Granja/Amareleja. All DOC wines are labelled DOC Alentejo, and sometimes qualified by the name of the sub-region as well. One of the most exciting areas is right up in the north-east corner, around the city of Portalegre and over towards the Spanish border. This high mountain country has a much cooler climate than the rest of the Alentejo, and the potential to make more elegant wines. The central Alentejo, wide, rolling country around the towns of Évora, Borba, Reguengos and Estremoz, is hotter, and makes wines with a good balance of acidity. Even further south, in the bakingly-hot country around Beja, winemakers are producing some excellent wines. Soils vary hugely, from granite and schist to chalk. A long list of grapes is permitted for Vinho Regional Alentejo, including many foreign varieties, such as Syrah, which is seriously gaining in importance. Main red grapes (variable according to sub-region): Aragonez, Trincadeira, Castelão, Alfrocheiro and Alicante Bouschet Main white grapes (variable according to sub-region): Arinto, Antão Vaz, Roupeiro, Fernão Pires, Perrum     Just some of the World class Portuguese wineries  that you could be visiting in the Alentejo Wine Region of Portugal: Herdade dos Coelheiros,  Igrejinha – a wine estate  run by the effervescent Teresa Leal. This estate not only produces wines, but also walnuts and cork trees.   The area is known for the world renowned typical Portuguese craft – the most beautiful carpets of Arraiolos, nearby, that throughout the years won a status of national symbol, and now they bring their image, tradition and identity to the labels of this fine winery. Herdade dos Coelheiros estate in Alentejo is a family business founded in 1981, which over the years has won recognition for producing wines of unquestionable quality, both nationally and internationally. It launched its first wine, labelled Tapada dos Coelheiros in 1991.  Since then, their portfolio of wines and other products has gradually grown.   A visit to this fascinating Portuguese wine estate will surely end with a tasting of their best wines including their superb barrel fermented white and the powerful Tapada de Coelheiros Tinto.   Herdade do Esporão,  Reguengos de Monsaraz – a very progressive family business which won the hotly contested “Sustainability of the Year” Award in the Drinks Business Green Awards 2013.  The Drinks Business, British magazine and one of the publications most read in Europe, praised Esporão for its holistic approach in adopting a wide range of innovative sustainable practices. Since it was founded in 1267, the boundaries of Herdade do Esporão have remained virtually unchanged, despite being the stage of bloody battles and heroic deeds over almost nine centuries. A visit to this impressive Alentejo winery not only includes a tour of the vineyards, wineries and wine cellars, there is also a great opportunity to visit and get to know the historical and cultural heritage of Herdade do Esporão, which dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries. In the historic and monumental centre of Herdade do Esporão you can visit the Esporão Tower, the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios Chapel (both of which have been classified as Public Interest Properties), and the Esporão Arch.  The chapel, an example of religious medieval architecture, was recently restored, thus making it possible for visitors to see the magnificent frescoes in its chancel.  There is also a Museum in the Esporão Tower where you can admire artefacts from the excavations at the Perdigões Archaeological Complex.   Adega da Cartuxa, Evora - This winery belongs to a foundation and wines are no longer produced here, but the place is referent for the area and definitely worth a pop in. The guided visits are not very good though, mainly 2 videos, but worth going to the shop and to taste/buy their range of wines, from modest to the region’s most expensive wine, the legendary Pêra-Manca, of which you are allowed to buy only one bottle.   Join us on a Private Tour of Portugal (or a combined tour with Spain) like our  Luxury Tour of Portugal – Wine and Culture  to experience the beautiful Wine Regions of Portugal in Alentejo and the Douro Valley, among others, to enjoy winery visits and tastings as well as a relaxing picnic in a vineyard and a cruise along the Douro River.

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    Portugal is divided into 14 Regional Wine areas : Vinho Verde, Trás-os-Montes, Porto and Douro, Távora-Varosa, Bairrada, Dão, Beira Interior, Lisboa, Tejo, Península de Setúbal, Alentejo, Algarve, Açores and Madeira. Portuguese wine is then categorized using the ‘DOC’ (Denominação de Origem Controlada) system meaning Controlled Denomination of Origin. Portugal has 31 DOCs/DOPs.  At the moment, both the traditional terminology of DOC and the new pan-European “DOP” are used. DOP (Denominação de Origem Protegida) means Protected Denomination of Origin. The “DOC/DOP” system is similar to the Denominación de Origen “DO” system of Spain, the Appellation d’origine contrôlée “AOC” system of France and the Denominazione di origine controllata “DOC” of Italy. In the Douro there are separate DOCs  for unfortified wine and for Port, although geographically they both lie within the same  boundaries. DOURO VALLEY The Douro Valley, Portugal, is considered one the most spectacular wine regions of the world with its terraced vineyards on sloping hills that meet the meandering River Douro below as it cuts through the mountains. The characteristic terraces of vines in the Douro Valley were introduced by the Romans in the third century A.D and the Douro “vinhateiro” wine-growing area of the Douro Valley is now a designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The soil in which the Douro Valley vines are planted is made up of schist, a slate-like metamorphic rock.  Rich in nutrients, it also has useful water retention properties. Long famous as the source of Port Wine, the authentic port wine is made at ‘quintas’ (estates) along a narrow river gorge that winds 100 miles through the mountain ranges and was once shipped downriver to the city of Porto in sailboats called ‘barcos rabelos’. But, the Douro Valley not only produces fortified wine.  Around the same amount of  unfortified wine is produced and is renowned for its fine and rich red and white wine. The Douro wine region of Portugal is divided into three sub-regions: Baixo Corgo, Cima Corgo and Douro Superior from west to east respectively. The further east, the drier the climate becomes and the deeper the wines. The Cima Corgo, which includes the towns of Pinhão, São João da Pesqueira and Tua, is the heart of fine port production and where also many of today’s fine unfortified wines are produced. The Baixo Corgo lies at the western end, closest to the Marão mountains, where the rainfall and vineyard yields are highest. This area mainly produces the lighter more early maturing styles of Port intended to be drunk relatively young. The Cima Corgo area is the location of many of the Douro’s finest vineyards and produces more concentrated and long lasting wines. The Douro Superior is the easternmost area and is the driest of all making it the source of many of the finest Vintage Ports. Main white Douro Valley grapes: Viosinho, Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Rabigato, Côdega, Donzelinho Branco, Esgana Cão and Folgazão   Main red Douro Valley grapes:     Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Aragonez), Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão, Sousão, Bastardo, Mourisco Tinto, Castelão, Rufete, Tinta Amarela (Trincadeira) and Tinta Francisca   Just some of the World class Quintas that you could be visiting in the Douro Valley: Quinta do Crasto –  Sitting in a privileged location in the Douro Demarcated Region, this Quinta is famous for its sophisticated wines as well as for the dramatic views. This single vineyard property dates as far back as the early seventeenth century, long before the Douro became the world’s first demarcated wine region in 1756 Quinta do Seixo – Sandeman’s flagship, and a most exclusive port winery, of the most important Port wine producer. This Winery is beautifully maintained and picturesquely located just down the river from Pinhao, with gorgeous views of Pinhao. Quinta do Panascal  – This majestic quinta, whose reputation goes back to the 18th century, is located on the banks of the river Távora. It is the most important estate of the prestigious Port Wine Company “Fonseca Guimaraens”. Quinta de la Rosa – Quinta de la Rosa is unusual in the way that they do everything in the Douro. Most port houses make their port in the Douro but store and bottle it in Vila Nova da Gaia, in Porto. Here, you will be able to see both wine and port making processes side by side.   PORT WINE Port Wine is a wine that was developed in Portugal by the British.  It is a by product of their battles with France through the 17th and 18th centuries. The English finally decided to boycott French wine in the late 17th century  and began sourcing their red wine from Portugal. They started to add a drop of Brandy to the still wine so that it would arrive in England after the long trip on a rocky boat without spoiling. This addition of the brandy not only gave the wine the strength to survive the journey but it also made the wine considerably sweeter when it was added early enough to stop fermentation. Today, Port wine ferments for only 2 to 3 days, has brandy added, and then is aged in wooden barrels. How long it ages determines the taste and how sweet the wine is. The base  for Port is made and fortified in wineries in the Douro Valley, then transported to the Port lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia, opposite Porto, at the mouth of the river, for ageing. Here, the ageing and blending of most of the world’s supply of Port wine takes place beneath a sea of red roofs emblazoned with some of the most famous names in wine-making. Rabelo boats were traditionally used to carry the wine down the river from Douro to the lodges in Oporto. There are generally five different types of port wine – white, ruby, tawny, late bottle vintage (LBV), and vintage. White is aged early and is young and robust.  Ruby is aged for 3 years with a strong grape and pepper taste.  Tawny is aged in smaller wooden barrels and varies from 10 to 40 [...]

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  • 03/11/15--06:20: Andalusian Gastronomy
  • Gastronomy in Andalusia is very location-specific – everyone knows that the best strawberries and jamon come from Huelva; sardines from Malaga; tuna from Barbate; mangoes from Granada; cucumbers and tomatoes from Almeria…..  Andalusia is the largest agricultural producer in Spain.  It leads the national production of table olives and the world’s largest producer of olive oil.  Jaen will say that they make the best olive oil, although in Cordoba, Granada and Seville they will dispute this. Similar to Spanish wine, Spanish Olive Oils have strict standards and seals provided by the different “Denominaciones de Origen”, Designation of Origin, to ensure their unique taste and high quality.  The richness and variety of Andalusian oils is reflected in the recognition of 12 Protected Designation of Origin “PDO” areas, each with its own characteristics.The ratio by province is as follows: Cádiz,  (Sierra de Cádiz PDO); Córdoba (Baena PDO; Montoro-Adamuz PDO; Priego de Córdoba PDO and Aceite de Lucena PDO); Granada (Poniente de Granada PDO and Montes de Granada PDO); Jaén (Sierra de Cazorla PDO; Sierra Mágina PDO and Sierra de Segura PDO);  Málaga (Antequera PDO); and Seville (Estepa PDO). Greenhouse cultivation predominates in Almería, producing noteworthy amounts of vegetables. Huelva and Granada are leaders in fruit production, cultivating strawberries and tropical fruit respectively. Pigs are bred primarily in the mountains of Cádiz, Córdoba, Huelva, Málaga and Seville, where large herds of Ibérico pigs are raised. Fishing is a chief industry in Cádiz, Huelva and Málaga, where fishermen specialise in catching tuna, prawns and sardines. The Andalusian fishing fleet consists of over 1,575 vessels and the captures reach 41,528 tons per year (2013). Wine production is centered in the regions around Jerez (the area with the oldest and longest wine exporting tradition in Spain), Montilla-Moriles, Málaga and Huelva. Andalusian gastronomy has deep roots within the Arabic cuisine of Al-Andalus (711-1492). Its refinement, unknown in Europe, transformed a wide range of customs. It was the andalusíes themselves who invented the dining room and the current order in which we eat dishes during a meal. Gazpacho (a cold soup made of tomato, bread, onions, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, oil, vinegar and salt) is the typical Andalusian dish par excellence. Tapas (small cold or hot dishes served in bars as aperitifs) attain their maximum expression in Andalusia (Cádiz, Málaga, Jerez…), where they are always served along with a glass of wine or beer. Tapas hopping is part of Andalusian life and  Seville, for example, boasts around 4,000 tapas bars – roughly 1 for every 200 locals so you know they know what they’re talking about!  Plate after plate of hot and cold food comes freshly out of the kitchen to appear on the bar to tempt your palate. Try cold roasted pepper salad or anchovies in vinegar, a hot dish of meatballs in sauce or a slice of Potato Omelet ….. the choice is yours.  Of course, as is customary, accompany your mouth watering bites with a glass of dry Spanish Sherry, wine or draft beer. Traditional Andalusian desserts are characterized by clear Arabic influence, like torta real de Motril, tocinos de cielo de Guadix, torrijas de Semana Santa or piononos de Santa Fe, exquisite sweet fillings cream. Other desserts  collect a long tradition of Andalusian cuisine convents, which is reflected in the famous St. Ursula yolks. Here are just some of the typical Andalusian dishes you may like to try while you’re staying in Andalusia:   Join us on a personalized private tour of Spain, like the Majestic Madrid and Authentic Andalusia Tour, to experience the sights and delights of Andalusia in Southern Spain with the orange scented patios of Seville, Romantic Ronda, Grand Granada and Curios Cordoba!

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    Evora is a small city surrounded by 14th century walls in the Portuguese wine region of Alentejo which is a vast, sun-drenched area covering around a third of Portugal. Only five per cent of the land is planted with vines though and between towns in Alentejo you can drive for miles passing cork and olive groves, vines, crops and grazing livestock.   Évora is a walled city with a proud, rich and imposing past. The Romans were here, leaving their 1st century Temple behind, but so were the Moors who occupied the narrow streets with quaint small white washed houses.  Traces of different eras and civilisations have been left virtually untouched in a city where people still walk small cobbled, medieval streets. Large archways give way to picturesque squares where local artisan shops are found next to the modern high-street names and terraced cafés invite you to relax and watch the world go by. The large amount of rich monuments found in this city has led to its UNESCO classification as the ‘the finest example of a city of the golden age of Portugal after the destruction of Lisbon by the earthquake of 1755’.   There are many great Alentejo wineries that you can visit in the surrounding  countryside so Evora makes a wonderful base for discovering the wine region although in Evora itself don’t miss: Catedral da Sé – Built in 1186 in Romanesque style and later restored in the Gothic this is the greatest medieval cathedral in the country.  The facade is dominated by two asymmetrical towers flanking a massive doorway, which includes twelve figures of the apostles that are masterpieces of Portuguese Gothic sculpture. Don’t miss the shrine studded with 1,426 precious stones—and a piece of wood thought to be from the True Cross. Templo Romano de Évora ou Templo de Diana (Roman Temple of Évora or Temple of Diana) -  This is one of the city’s most famous monuments and one of the main symbols of the Roman occupation of Portugal. There are 14 columns left of this temple which was originally built in the 1st Century A.D. as a place of worship to emperor Augustus. Legend has it that it was erected in honour of the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana, and is more commonly referred to today as the Temple of Diana. Aqueduto Água de Prata (Silver Water Aqueduct) - This is a masterpiece of engineering workdating back to the 16th century and one of Evora’s iconic monuments. Follow the aqueduct inside the walls of Évora and see how homes have been built inside the arches.  It is one of the largest aqueducts in Portugal and  used to bring water from the springs of Graça do Divor, 11 miles (18 kilometres) away, to the center of the town. Capela dos Ossos (The Chapel of Bones) - Built in the 16th century by Franciscan monks to invite contemplation on the transitory nature of life, to transmit the message that life was just a passage before reaching heaven or hell. Approximately 5,000 skeletons, from 42 local cemeteries, are exposed on its walls and ceilings —ironically, all but the bones of the monks who created the chapel. This intriguing chapel belongs to the Igreja Real de São Francisco (San Francisco Royal Church) and if you are a little sensitive you may have to think twice before you enter the archway that states “We bones lying here await yours”.  University of Évora – This 16th century university is the second oldest in Portugal and the azulejos that decorate the classroom entrances represent each of the subjects taught.  Opened in 1559 and run by the Jesuits before they were evicted by the Marquês de Pombal in 1759, its elaborate classrooms look onto a serene courtyard with a central fountain. Feel free to walk through its marble cloisters, look in on classrooms with teaching pulpits and 18th-century blue-and-white azulejos (tiles, painted here to reflect the academic subjects) and don’t miss the chapel’s tapestry and the stunning painted ceiling of the library. The students are unfazed by visitors. Praça do Giraldo -  The center piece of the main square of Evora is a marble fountain,  the fonte Henriquina, that dates from the 1570’s.  This water fountain  marked the original source of the aqueduct of silver water and has eight streams, each representing the eight streets which lead from the Praca do Giraldo.  The square today is a calm and pleasant setting to spend an hour or so doing some people watching but was once the scene for some of the region’s most violent historical events such as the murderous 16th century Spanish Inquisitions for which it was the focal point.   Discover some of our customized food and wine tours to the most beautiful regions of Spain, Portugal and S.W France Food, Wine & Cultural Tours of Spain, Portugal & S.W France Our travel agency creates private and high-end wine, culinary and cultural tours in Europe. We understand that everyone’s idea of the ´perfect´ package is unique which is why we work with you to customize your unforgettable experience – with an emphasis on the personal touch. Contact us to receive a quote for your private customized food and wine tour

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