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Spain Wine Tour

Luxury Wine Tour to Spain - Just 6 spots left!

May 26-30, 2014
Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro
with James Lawther, Master of Wine

Aalto                            Abadia Retuerta                               Marques de Riscal
Pesquera                      Remelluri                                         Lopez de Heredia
Numanthia                   Valpiedra                                          Remirez de Ganuza
Alcazar in Segovia       Peñafiel castle                                  Kaia Kaipe fish lunch
1* Michelin dinner       Pesquera hotel                                 Burgos catedral

In collaboration with my friend Jeremy and James Lawther MW, we have put together another ALL STAR trip to the greatest wineries in Rioja and Castile.

In Ribera del Duero we visit Aalto, Abadia Retuerta and have a long lunch at the pioneer estate of Pesquera. In Toro we see 100 year old vines and taste at the legendary Numanthia.

In Rioja we visit and taste at Valpiedra, Marques de Riscal, have an old vintage vertical at Lopez de Heredia and Remelluri, and cap it off with Remirez de Ganuza and Baigorri. You'll visit the best wineries in 3 dynamic wine regions that contrast modern and traditional wine styles side by side. We will taste over 60 wines and have verticals at some of the top estates.

In the warm Spanish spring, visit stunning architectural wonders both ancient and modern, enjoy a Michelin dinner in a bodega, and a series of winemaker lunches at iconic estates.

It will be a great way to learn about Spanish culture and history as well as its finest wines. Jeremy, our local guide, is an expert on Spain and will ensure that you experience the best of each region’s culture as well as their wines. James Lawther MW, writer for Decanter magazine and Bordeaux resident with excellent experience in Spain, will also guide the trip and is a wealth of knowledge in all matters vinous.

This is a unique opportunity to experience the passion and the grandeur of ancient and modern Spain and appreciate the subtle shifts in the Spanish winemaker’s soul across the regions.

We're taking about 20 people. So don't wait. Not only it is a privilege to have these appointments, we will be visiting in the middle of spring, appreciating the best wine experiences that Spain has to offer at a great time of year.

Price: $2,995 USD including tax

This price includes all accommodation, visits and tastings at wineries, all meals (there are just some light tapas one evening), all wine at meals, and local transport. Flights are not included.

If you are travelling by yourself there will be a single supplement of $700.

To join the tour: Email to request the booking form.

Why take a tour of Spain from Fine Vintage?
Most of these estates are not typically open to visitors, and if you can get in then you’ll get a very different tour and tasting from what you will experience with us. The only reason that we are able to visit these wineries is because of our contacts and network through buying and wine writing activities.

All of the visits are confirmed. Here is the program.

MONDAY May 26th
Please make your flight arrangements to Madrid. We will leave from central Madrid next to the Westin Palace (5 star). If you prefer a fun 4 star hotel nearby we recommend the ME Reina Victoria in the Plaza Santa Ana.

The Westin Palace Hotel, Plaza de las Cortes 7, 28014, Madrid. Tel +34 913607666

ME Reina Victoria, Plaza Santa Ana 14, 28012, Madrid Tel + 34 917016000

09.45 am
Pick up in front of Starbucks in the Plaza Neptuno, at the back of the Westin Palace.

Meet with James and Jeremy in the back of the lobby of the Westin Palace in Madrid (in the lounge area up the stairs from check in). Board the luxury bus and we're off, with a little cava to kick start the tour. We then drive to Segovia, about one and a half hours away. Here we have a guided tour of the Alcazar, Segovia’s landmark fortress, and a stunning castle perched on the edge of a cliff. This was home to many of the Kings of Spain. Walt Disney modeled the castle in his logo on the Alcazar.

After the alcazar visit, we enjoy a tasting of some of Spain’s icon wines and a casual tapas lunch at Jose Maria restaurant, currently reckoned to be Segovia’s finest asador restaurant.

Over lunch James and Jeremy will introduce the big picture of Spanish wines and the various regions. During this we’ll have a tasting of a Rueda white and 3 reds, including Spain’s 1st growth, Vega Sicilia Reserva Especial. We’ll also have a glass of Alion, which is Vega’s modern styled red, and Jose Maria’s own Reserva called Pago de Carraovejas. It’s a good first lunch.

After lunch we visit our first winery in the dusty but increasingly renowned region of Toro. Columbus carried wine from Toro on the Santa Maria and today the region is producing some stunning wines. We arrive at Numanthia for a tour and tasting with the winemaker Manuel Louzada. This is LVMH’s only winery in Spain, and has received a 100 point score from Parker. We’ll see some of the oldest vines in Spain, taste from barrel with Manuel, all before heading for dinner at the delightful La Fragua restaurant up the road in Toro.

It’s a short drive from the bodega to the beautiful hilltop town of Toro, where we enjoy a stroll past the iconic Colegiata church and the main square before dinner at La Fragua, a traditional but smart Castilian restaurant.

After dinner, we drive east to the Hotel Pesquera in the heart of Ribera del Duero, where we will spend the first 2 nights. This is a brand new hotel built by the icon Alejandro Fernandez, who owns Pesquera. It’s very modern, in stark contrast to the traditional winery. It’s a fun hotel, and there is a great bar, which has a dangerously good selection of wine and Gin. Last year, the Gin flowed…

TUESDAY May 27th
Iberian legends

09.30 am Depart hotel
Breakfast, and then we'll drive a short distance along Ribera del Duero’s golden mile to Abadia Retuerta.

Abadia Retuerta showcases the winemaker as scientist in the grandest surroundings. The bodega is owned by Novartis and is based around a 12th century abbey at the heart of their estate. It is one of the most modern wineries in the world.

We jump into some 4x4’s and go for a wild ride around the estate. We see vineyards that are over 100 years old, spectacular views of the region from up high on the hillside, and get schooled by our lovely guides.

This estate lies outside the DO boundary, and so we will taste other single varietal wines like Cabernet and Petit Verdot, alongside the classic Tempranillo. The wines here have been ranked “best wine in the world” by Decanter at a major competition.

After Abadia Retuerta we go to one of the greatest names in Ribera, a cult winery called Aalto, for a very exclusive visit.

Javier Zaccagnini and Mariano Garcia (the oenologist of Vega Sicilia for 30 years) make one of Ribera’s finest red wines. They cultivate 42 acres of prime tempranillo plots to make 2 very fine wines: Aalto and Aalto PS. The winery is minimalist and stunning, dedicated to quality wine production. There’s no tasting room here. They don’t usually receive visitors. It is one of Ribera’s (and Spain’s) most famous estates. We enjoy a visit and barrel room tasting of old Tempranillo vines in the heart of Ribera’s golden mile. For wine lovers it’s a WOW

Now for an epic lunch. Alejandro Fernandez believed there might be more to Ribera than Vega Sicilia and in 1972 licensed his bodega in the village of Pesquera where he started to make 100% Tempranillo wines aged in American oak. Since then he has become known as El Rey (the king) of Tempranillo and his Pesquera winery is named by Parker as one of the world’s top wine estates.

We’ll have a typical Spanish lunch of lamb accompanied by wines from each of the Fernandez’s 4 estates. Alejandro is in his 80’s but he always comes and has lunch with us. Last year lunch lasted till 5.30 pm and by the end of it everyone was dancing and singing in Spanish… After lunch we will tour the estate.

Around 1730 we head off for a quick visit to the castle in Peñafiel, just around the corner. It was originally built in the 9th century and now houses the region’s wine museum. There’s a fantastic view of the surrounding countryside, as we are high up on a hill and we take the chance to savour the scene briefly before heading back to the hotel, 5 minutes away.

When we get back to the hotel, we have an optional Gin ‘workshop'. This is a new twist to the program for us. Spain is mad about Gin and there are so many different types and flavours. Alejandro’s barman will show us how to make the perfect G ‘n T, and Mojitos, and we’ll kick back with a few tapas. This is a lot of fun. The rest of the evening and dinner is on your own, if you’re still hungry after lunch…there’s a tapas bar at the front of the hotel and a cocktail terrace at the back.


09.30 am Depart hotel
Check out of the hotel. We leave Ribera del Duero and head north towards Rioja, not missing the chance to see one of the most striking buildings in Spain en route.

A little coffee, maybe a Spanish Brandy, and then we’ll have a quick guided tour of Burgos Cathedral. This Gothic Cathedral is a world heritage site and holds the remains of El Cid. It is absolutely spectacular, taking hundreds of years to build.
We then make our way up to Remelluri, a wonderful single estate winery in Labastida in Rioja. On the bus on the way there we have a Sherry tasting and James will explain how Sherry is made and how to taste it.

Almost Tuscan in style, this is the family property of Spain’s most famous travelling winemaker Telmo Rodriguez. Telmo spent time learning his trade in Bordeaux and now makes wines across the great Spanish wine regions. He is the most respected flying winemaker in Spain, a floppy haired maverick that all the gals fell in love with last year.

Telmo and his sister Amaia run the family jewel that is Remelluri, an icon in Rioja producing wines with tremendous complexity, finesse and elegance. This is great wine, in the strictest sense.

After a barrel tasting we sit down to a vertical of wines going back to the 1980’s, enjoyed over a delicious long lunch. Welcome to Rioja.

After lunch, it’s time for an introduction to the modern face of Rioja and some stunning architecture at Baigorri.

This is our first view of the new wave Rioja, a series of more modern style wines that appeared in Rioja at the turn of the century, characterized by high profile architects building astonishing wineries in total contrast to the traditional bodegas in the Basque villages. Since its first vintage in 2002, Baigorri has been a very popular wine and a bold landmark offering a panoramic view of the rolling hills of Rioja Alavesa. We enjoy a brief tour and tasting before the short drive to our hotel in the neighbouring village.

After the visit we check into our luxury hotel called The Viura in Villabuena de Alava. This small boutique hotel has a remarkable design and a warm welcome in the heart of Rioja Alavesa. We’re here for the 2 nights in Rioja. It’s a great hotel, with comfortable rooms and excellent service.

This evening, after having a big lunch, we’ll have a light dinner and tasting of reds and whites from the village (it happens to boast the highest number of bodegas in any Riojan village). The dining room has barrels suspended from the ceiling. Riojan chic.


10.00 am Depart hotel
We head to the nearby village of Samaniego for our first visit of the day.

Last year Fernando Remirez de Ganuza invited us to visit him. He is one of Rioja’s great characters, a serious wine broker from the region who used his contacts to acquire 70 hectares of prime Rioja Alavesa vineyards in the late 80s. He makes a variety of wines and uses some very unusual techniques.

This visit shows another view of how local innovation can create wonderful wines in new styles. You’ll see some things you’ve likely never seen before in wine production. This contrasts greatly with our next visit, the temple to tradition in Haro.

This is my favorite visit, perhaps in the world. A visit to this winery alone makes the trip worthwhile. I have never been to anything quite like it. This is traditional Rioja, to say the least.

Many of the wines are aged for over a decade before release, often in barrels that are extremely old. In fact, the fermentation vats are over 150 years old. The underground cellars are several kilometers long, and it’s like being in a winery from the Middle Ages. The wines are phenomenal. They also make their own barrels here, and we will visit the cooperage.

The visit concludes with a decade by decade tasting of reds and whites from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. All this is accompanied by a tapas lunch in a legendary setting. Fasten your seatbelts. This is a wine lovers dream. Last year a guest bought some 1942 to crack open with dinner… Lopez de Heredia is off the charts. It’ll make you laugh at what you’ve seen in most new world regions.

After an amazing morning visiting 2 contrasting bodegas, we make our way back to the hotel for a little siesta, or a bike ride around the village if you want, before setting off at 1715 for our final evening’s fun.

Another benchmark. Another classic. Marques de Riscal is one of the great names in Spanish wines. We’ll enjoy a tasting of their range at the City of Wine followed by a brief tour of the buildings.

What is most amazing about this visit, in addition to the wines, is the architecture. Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum established Bilbao as a tourist destination. He followed it up with the remarkable Marques de Riscal City of Wine and hotel in Elciego. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, anywhere. After our tasting, we head down the road to Valpiedra for dinner.

Martinez Bujanda is one of the most prestigious Riojan families and Valpiedra and is the only winery in Rioja to qualify for the title of Gran Pago (‘top single estate vineyards’).

The family’s first bodega was set up by Carlos and Pilar’s great grandfather Joaquin in 1889. Valpiedra is the flagship, in a fabulous location on the banks of the River Ebro. It’s the ultimate expression of the quality of single estate wines in Rioja, and a fitting final visit, not least because we follow the visit and tasting with a formal dinner prepared by the Echapresto brothers who run the Michelin starred Ventamoncalvillo restaurant in nearby Daroca. It’s our last blow out evening. The wine flows.

FRIDAY May 30th

10.30 AM Depart Hotel
There’s time to sleep in after the big dinner, or explore the village more before heading off for our last winery visit and lunch by the ocean, on the Basque coast, just over 1 hour away.

Txakoli is the most Basque of wines, a lively and refreshing accompaniment to the best Basque pintxos, made in a similar style to vinho verde. We visit the most renowned txakoli producer Txomin Etxaniz, which has a history of making wine in the village of Getaria since 1649 and where the vines tumble down the steep hillsides overlooking the Basque coast.

We see the vineyards and the winery before enjoying a tasting of Txomin Etxaniz txakoli overlooking the ocean accompanied by some local fish. As soon as we’re done we head into Getaria to enjoy the best that this Basque fishing village has to offer.

As well as being one of the best fish restaurants in the Basque country, a food mecca, Kaia Kaipe houses one of the finest cellars in Spain. We enjoy locally caught turbot grilled on the asadores that the village is famous for, accompanied by the txakoli from the vineyards up in the hills overlooking the village. It’s a great relaxing last lunch, which always sees a lot of wine flow. Detox starts the following day.

After lunch we set off for Bilbao. We’ll drop people off at Bilbao airport around 1600 (we will be no later than 1615, unless there’s exceptional traffic). From here you can catch flights back to Madrid, or to dozens of other places in Europe. Or you can stick around in Bilbao. We’ll drop you at our recommended hotel in Bilbao if you wish. The Hotel Carlton is the grand old lady of Basque hotels, once host to Orson Welles and of course Ernest Hemingway.
Federico Moyua Square, 2, 48009, Bilbao Tel +34 94416 2200

This will be another luxurious wine tour, hosted by James Lawther MW and a local Spanish wine expert, visiting the top estates with a small group of about 20 fun-loving people. To request the booking form please email us at

Details on all our tours to Bordeaux, Tuscany, Champagne-Burgundy-Rhone, Australia and elsewhere can be found at . Every tour we’ve run has sold out and many guests are repeat offenders.




Featured wine tasting holiday to Spain:

Fine Vintage Ltd is delighted to offer a unique collection of guided wine tours for travel in 2014. Our luxury wine tour holidays have been carefully tailored to suit your tastes and needs. You will stay in fine hotels and luxury inns; enjoy wine tastings in Spain's top wineries; dine in the most exclusive restaurants, and enjoy the company of others who share a passion for wine.

James Cluer, MW, is your host on this unforgettable wine tour through some of the most charming wineries in Spain. Each wine tour holiday has been designed by James, whose passion for wine, invaluable expertise and knowledge, as well as, personal insight, willl give you a brilliant perspective into Spanish wine. James' relationships with the winemakers and owners will provide you unique access that goes beyond other wine tours. See the beauty of Spain and learn the history of this amazing region that attracts visitors from all over the world. This is the ultimate wine connoisseur's tour of Spain, and offers the very best food and wine experience for anyone who loves wine.

Guided wine tour packages to Spain by Fine Vintage Ltd include hotel accommodation, all meals except those noted, all wine tastings and wine at meals, winery visits, and local transport. Exclusive wine tasting vacations to Spain include visits to Pingus, Aalto and Pesquera in Ribera del Duero, and Jose Pariente in Rueda. Roda, Marques de Riscal, Lopez de Heredia, Remelluri and Lanzaga in Rioja.

These luxurious guided wine tours to Spain have been arranged by your host, leading wine expert, James Cluer, MW. As a Master of Wine, James is regarded as one of the world's leading experts on wine. The MW is considered to be the pinnacle of qualifications in the wine industry. There are only 30 MW's in North America and 300 worldwide. Exclusive wine tasting vacations to Spain.