Every itinerary for a trip to Spain, no matter the region, should read like the following: Drink wine, eat everything, relax, repeat. There isn’t a bad place to be or a bad time of year to go, and should you be considering a trip, you’re in luck because Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate just detailed some of their favorite spots in both Ribera del Duero and Rueda.
Should you be heading to “the Napa and Sonoma of Spain” (their words…), there are plenty of options, but first, here are some pointers (our words…):
- Wineries operate differently than they do in Napa or others, where walk-in tastings in a come-whenever-you-want setting are normal. Most tastings and visits require pre-arranged appointments depending on the winery, so plan ahead.
- Hospitality is everything to Spaniards and Spanish winemakers, so expect visits to last longer than you expected and for people to take you in as though you’re family.
- Should you tire of wine, the Spanish drink of choice is a Gin & Tonic, with bars like La Villa specializing in dozens of smartly-conceived variations of the drink.
OK, now onto Wine Advocate’s list. Starting in Rueda, their go-to winery recommendation is Menade, the “rebels in Rueda’s wine world,” the region’s only certified organic winery. “Start with a visit to the 19th century underground cellar in La Seca, where the family’s business got its start, before sampling Menade’s herbal-tinged Verdejo and tapas on the terrace,” the article urges. Get the inside scoop on Menade in our interview with Menade owner-winemaker, Richard Sanz:
From there, it’s all eats in Rueda, calling out Michelin-starred La Botica de Matapozuelos (which happens to be in the same town as Garciarévalo … just saying.) for a tasting menu that draws heavily from the region’s pine trees. Or, if you’re looking for a little late-night tapas action, there’s no better place than Los Zagales in the center of Valladolid for their quirky and wild “modern take on tapas.”
A bit east in Ribera del Duero, two wineries — Bodegas Comenge and Bodegas Neo — got the attention of Wine Advocate. Bodegas Comenge earned their praise thanks to “elegant wines — like the Don Miguel Comenge 2011, a Tempranillo and Cabernet blend — known for aging beautifully and scored highly by our Spanish wine reviewer Luis Gutiérrez.” There’s also the “nearby medieval village of Curiel de Duero,” which you can tour via horse and carriage.
Bodegas Neo is the opposite vibe, choosing modern over medieval. “Not only are the young wines modern in both style and name—like the unaged Crazy Tempranillo—so is the winery itself,” the article explains. Case in piont: Inside the winery there’s also a recording studio.
And should you be hungry at this point, nearby Segovia and its infamous suckling pig (cochinillo) that just so happens to pair perfeclty with Ribera del Duero wines.