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Spain Wine Tour

Luxury Wine Tour to Spain

September 21st – 25th, 2015

Rueda, Ribera del Duero and Rioja

with James Lawther, Master of Wine

$3,500 CAD

In collaboration with James Lawther MW and Jeremy Shaw we have put together another ALL STAR trip to some of the greatest wineries in Rioja and Castile. During the most exciting time of year, the harvest, you will visit a slew of the best wineries in 3 dynamic wine regions. We stay at excellent hotels and enjoy fabulous meals at the wineries, including a Michelin starred dinner. During the 5 days and 4 nights we will taste over 70 wines with verticals at some of the top estates. If you want to explore the Spanish wine scene with a Master of Wine and get into the top estates then this trip has your name written all over it.

The Whites of Rueda: We meet the Winemaker at José Pariente and taste a flight of their beautiful wines from the little known Verdejo grape variety.

Iberian Legends in Ribera del Duero: We spend two days visiting some of the icons of this region including a memorable lunch with Alejandro Fernandez, owner of the pioneering Pesquera, a visit to the ultra-modern Abadia Retuerta, and a tour and tasting of the cult wines of Aalto. Most of the estates we visit are not open to the public.

The Classics of Rioja: We experience old vintage verticals at Remelluri and one of my favourite wineries in the world, Ló pez de Heredia. We also visit and taste with Luis Cañas, Remirez de Ganuza, and Marqué s de Riscal, and enjoy a Michelin-starred dinner at Martinez Bujanda's Valpiedra. It doesn't get better.

The Unique Flavours of Basque Country: We finish off by driving to the coast for a visit and tasting of the unique Txakoli-based wines of Txomin Etxaniz and a blow-out seafood lunch overlooking the ocean before wrapping up in Bilbao.

Cultural Heritage Sites: It's not all wine all the time. We will also visit some of the landmark Spanish cultural sites such as the Alcazar in Segovia, and Burgos Cathedral. And there is tutored tasting of Sherry too! So OK, there is a lot of wine ;)

Your Guides
James Lawther MW, a writer for Decanter magazine and Bordeaux resident with excellent experience in Spain, will guide the trip. He is a wealth of knowledge in all matters vinous. Jeremy Shaw, our local guide, is an expert on Spain and will ensure that you experience the best of each region's culture.

Why take a tour of Spain from Fine Vintage?
Most of these estates are not 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 through buying and wine writing activities. The trips are suited to all wine lovers. We have welcomed fellow Masters of Wine, people in the trade, but most of all we have casual wine lovers from all walks of life looking for a fun holiday exploring the great estates. No prior wine knowledge required.

We take a maximum of 20 people. So don't wait. Not only it is a privilege to have these appointments but we will be visiting in the middle of September, appreciating the best wine experiences that Spain has to offer just as the harvest begins.

Price: CAD $3,500 including tax
The 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 CAD $700.

The payment schedule is:

  • $1000 upon registration
  • $1500 at 120 days from tour start date
  • $1000 (plus single supplement if applicable) at 90 days

To Join the Tour: Please contact your personal travel concierge with any questions and for assistance booking David@FineVintageLtd.com Or you can click the Book Now icon at the top of the page. If you have any questions please contact us at David@FineVintageLtd.com

The Program All of the visits are confirmed. Here is the program:

Day 1: Monday, September 21st – The Road to Rueda and Ribera del Duero

Please make your own flight arrangements to Madrid. We will leave from central Madrid next to the Westin Palace (5 star). If you prefer a fun modern 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
www.westin.com/palacemadrid
Tel +34 913607666

ME Reina Victoria, Plaza Santa Ana 14, 28012, Madrid
www.melia.com/hotels/spain/madrid/me-madrid-reina-victoria/index.html
Tel + 34 917016000

9:45 am – Meet Guides and Depart
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 90 minutes away. Here we have a guided tour of the Alcazar, Segovia's landmark fortress, which is a stunning castle perched on the edge of a cliff. This was home to many of the Kings of Spain. Walt Disney modeled his logo on the Alcazar.

Tapas Lunch and Vega Sicilia in Segovia
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. 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. Vega for lunch. Life could be worse...

José Pariente Tour
After lunch we visit our first winery in the small region of Rueda. Jose Pariente is one of the most respected names in Rueda, a small modern family winery run by mother Victoria and her lovely daughter Martina. It's a chance to taste some excellent white from the Verdejo grape. This is a very unique varietal that is sometimes blended with Sauvignon Blanc, and makes delicious wines. www.josepariente.com/eng/index2.html

After the visit and tasting we head off to the Hotel Pesquera, where we will spend the first 2 nights. This is a brand new "cool" boutique hotel built by the "King of Tempranillo" Alejandro Fernandez, who owns Pesquera. It's a fun hotel, and there is a great bar which has a great selection of wine, and Gin...

Tapas Dinner in Hotel Pesquera
After check in and time to relax we'll have a casual tapas dinner with a selection of wines from the Pesquera estates together with some wines from other parts of Spain that we are not visiting on the trip, such as vintage Cava from Catalunya and some rich and concentrated reds from Bierzo. www.hotelpesquera.com/en/elhotel.php

Day 2: Tuesday, September 22nd – Iberian Legends of Ribera del Duero

9:30 am - Depart hotel
Breakfast and then we'll drive a short distance along Ribera del Duero's golden mile to Abadia Retuerta.

Abadia Retuerta
Abadia Retuerta is owned by Novartis, who has pockets deep enough to create one of the most amazing wineries I've seen. It is based around a 12th century abbey at the heart of their estate and then inside the winery you'll see equipment and techniques that I've never seen anywhere else in the world.

We start with a tour of the vineyards, either on foot or by 4X4. We see vineyards that are over 100 years old, enjoy spectacular views of the region from up high on the hillside, and get schooled by our lovely guides.

Some of this estate lies outside the DO boundary, and so they choose to make single varietals from Syrah, Cabernet and Petit Verdot, alongside the classic Tempranillo. We taste a selection of single estate wines and the award winning Seleccion Especial, which has been ranked "best wine in the world" by Decanter at a major competition. http://www.abadia-retuerta.com/en/

Aalto
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 because they don't 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. http://www.aalto.es/

Lunch at Pesquera
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. www.pesqueraafernandez.com/english/index.htm

Peñafiel Castle After Pesquera we make 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 a brief chance to enjoy the Ribera landscape before heading back to the hotel, 5 minutes away.

When we get back to the hotel we have an optional Gin 'workshop". Spain is mad about Gin and there are so many different types and flavors. 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 your long lunch...

Day 3: Wednesday September 23rd

9:30 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 beautiful landmarks in Spain en route.

Burgos Cathedral
A little coffee, maybe a Spanish Brandy, and then we'll have a quick guided tour of the 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 famous single estate winery in Labastida in Rioja.

Remelluri Lunch and Vertical Tasting
Almost Tuscan in style, this is the family property of Spain's most respected 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 influential flying winemaker in Spain.

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. www.remelluri.com/ing/intro.html

Luis Cañas
In the village where we are staying there are more bodegas than any other village in Spain. Luis Cañas is the best, a family winery since 1928 that has reinvented itself through its modern style Amaren range to complement the more classic Luis Cañas wines. Five of Spain's seven 3 Michelin star restaurants carry Luis Cañas wines, now a Riojan benchmark. We visit the vineyards and have a tasting before the few minute drive down the hill to our hotel in the village. www.luiscanas.com/en/

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.

In the evening we'll have a light dinner and tasting of reds and whites from the village. The dining room has barrels suspended from the ceiling. Riojan chic. www.hotelviura.com/english/index.html

Day 4: Thursday, September 24th

10:00 am Depart Hotel
We head to the nearby village of Samaniego for our first visit of the day.

Remirez De Ganuza
Fernando Remirez de Ganuza 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. You'll see some things you've likely never seen before in wine production. This contrasts greatly with our next visit to the temple to tradition in Haro. www.remirezdeganuza.com/ingles

Ló pez de Heredia
This is a candidate for my favorite winery visit 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. 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 tasting of reds and whites from the 80s, 90s and 2000s, accompanied by some light tapas in a legendary setting. Fasten your seatbelts. This is a wine lovers dream. Lopez de Heredia is off the charts. www.lopezdeheredia.com/english/arquitectura/tienda.html

After an amazing morning visiting 2 contrasting bodegas, we travel back to the hotel where we taste some classic sherries with tapas for lunch allowing time for a little siesta, or a bike ride around the village if you want, before setting off again at 5 pm for our final evening's fun.

Marqué s de Riscal
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. www.marquesderiscal.com/index.php?setIdioma=2

Visit And Michelin Dinner At Valpiedra 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 tour 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. www.familiamartinezbujanda.com/valpiedra/

Day 5: Friday, September 25th – Basque Country

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.

Txomin Etxaniz
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. 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. As soon as we're done we head into Getaria to enjoy the best that this Basque fishing village has to offer. www.txominetxaniz.com/en/

Kaia Kaipe
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, accompanied by the txakoli from the vineyards up in the hills overlooking the village. It's a great relaxing last lunch, with some unique wines. http://www.kaia-kaipe.com/

Bilbao
After lunch we set off for Bilbao. We'll drop people off at Bilbao airport around 1600 (we will be no later than 1630, 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. The tour is now finished. Time for some water...

The Hotel Carlton, Federico Moyua Square, 2, 48009, Bilbao
carlton@aranzazu-hoteles.com Tel +34 94416 2200
www.hotelcarlton.es/en/

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. If you have any questions please email us at david@FineVintageLtd.com

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.