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Rioja in pictures

A whistle-stop tour of Rioja last week took us to Marques de Caceres where we were greeted by the estate’s ebullient PR and marketing manager Anne Vallejo resplendent in red, who invited us to try some freshly picked Tempranillo grapes.

The harvest was well underway at the bodega during our visit, with hopes high for an excellent 2015 vintage in terms of both quality and quantity.

During our visit, we were given a grand tour of the bodega, which has recently had a makeover to make it more tourist friendly. Among the new features is this rather grand dining room.

db’s Lucy Shaw was delighted to discover that Marques de Caceres’ new Excellens Rosé paired perfectly with her pink handbag.

Later that day we were invited to a gala dinner at Roda to kick off the Haro Station Wine Experience, a two-day event showcasing wines from all of the seven bodegas in the town: Lopez de Heredia, Muga, Cune, La Rioja Alta, Roda, Bodegas Bilbainas and Gomez Cruzado. The guy on the left doesn’t seem convinced by the evening’s vintage theme. 

… which continued in the winery during a drinks reception where we were regaled with songs from Mary Poppins in Spanish – curiouser and curiouser.

During the drinks reception we were treated to a tasting of wines made at the seven bodegas, including this blanc de noirs Cava from Viña Pomal.

The wine flowed freely during the abundant dinner, reaching a crescendo with Viña Tondonia 1964, which was still going strong.

The curious cameos continued before dessert…

Each of the gala dinner guests were given a pocket watch to take home in a hat tip to how long Haro has been famed for its silky reds.

We were also given a bottle of “Eau de Terroir”, a spicy, musky, earthy scent perfect for those keen to smell like their favourite vineyards.

Bright blue skies blazed over Haro the next morning, which began with a historical tasting of reds from the seven bodegas hosted (in Spanish) by Tim Atkin MW who concluded that due to its diversity of styles, it’s now almost impossible to define Rioja reds.

After the tasting we were free to explore the seven different wineries, which all lie close to one another in Haro. Our first stop was to Lopez de Heredia’s wine shop designed by architect Zaha Hadid that includes this beautiful original shop that appeared at the Brussels World Expo in 1910.

Liquid gold

We then moved on to Bodegas Bilbainas where we were given a tutored tasting of the wines by Victor Sanchez of Codorniu.

In the far cellar we were treated to a tasting of the bodega’s top reds.

Muga beckoned next

Followed by one of the most modern of Rioja’s bodegas, Roda

The space-age interior of Cune’s Viña Real

Very little can beat drinking wine in the sunshine

On the final evening we headed back to Cune for an al fresco barbecue of suckling lamb, which paired a treat with the region’s velvety reds.

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