Category: Wine

La Rioja – Spain

OK, so I’m eventually in La Rioja, the province that produces my favourite Spanish wines, so how on Earth can I describe this amazing experience in a nutshell?


Wine tour + 6 courses lunch menu + matching wines for 40€ at Baigorri, an ultra modern winery that has a “Best of Wine Tourism” award for architecture.

The unique experience of staying at Eguren Ugarte,
a hotel in the middle of the bodega, among all the barrels and vineyards.

Visiting Muga, one of the oldest wine estates of Rioja.

Trying (and buying) Spanish extra virgin olive oil at Roda,
one of the most prestigious wineries/olive producer that is known for producing some of the best wines of Spain.

Driving around and slowing down in the countryside of Spain, doing the Camino of Santiago de Compostela by car (I hope it counts).

Yes, I’m having a ball.

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Pintxos in San Sebastian – Spain

From Bordeaux, we crossed the France/Spain border and our first port of call was the fishing village of San Sebastian, a city in the north of the Basque Country.

The city is cozy, compact, safe and full of life! Everything is written in both Spanish and Basque and the locals speak both languages (primarily basque) so lets say that I got around with my “portunhol” (a mix of Portuguese and Spanish language).

It was challenging to get used to the local routine: usually restaurants open for lunch from 1:30pm, shops close between 1:30pm and 4:00pm then re-open until 7:00pm. Dinner starts from 9pm.

But the highlight in SanSe was by far the exquisite food experience:
In the morning we went to the port to watch the fishing boats bringing in their catches for the restaurants.

By lunch time instead of seating and trying dishes from one place, we did what traditionally everyone does in San Sebastian: some pincho walks.

A pincho (or pintxo) is a small portion of a dish, smaller than tapas or raciones, usually served on a slice of bread.
Prices go from 1 to 3€‚¬ each and sometimes it comes for free as a courtesy with every drink. A glass of wine or beer costs on average 2€.

Pinchos are usually consumed standing up and instead of order them, you take whatever you want and let the barman know later.

So we basically went from one eatery to another, trying lots of specialities such as croquetas made of squid ink, prawns or jamon; mini gambas (prawns) skewers with some traditional sauces; bacalao; antipastos such as smoked capsicum, sardines or olives; octupus’ tentacles; Spanish sausages; jamon and the list goes on.

It is impressive how people can come back to work after all of that but it is really fun watching how easy and relaxed everyone is around here, laughing and chatting like if they knew each other for a long time…

So what about the Rioja and Ribeira that I had here from 1.50€ a glass? I really don’t get why the same Spanish wines costs me a fortune back in Australia.
The price of Spanish tapas in Australia are a (really bad) joke too: extremely rip-off !
But this is a topic for another time.

Lourdes, traga me una copa de Ribeira e un pincho de gambas por favor!

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Bordeaux – France

Down to the Bordeaux region, the holidays couldn’t get better: on top of all the (wine driven) planning, we got to Saint Emilion during the “Saint-Emilion Portes ouvertes” event, the only weekend of the year where many chateaux open their doors for wine tasting and to show off their cellars.
This was a really special gift as most of the wine estates are either closed to the public or it can only be visited by appointment.

Saint Emilion itself is quite a special place: this medieval village dated from the 8th century is surrounded by vineyards, it has lots of underground galleries that work as caves for some of the best wines in the world and it is an UNESCO World Heritage site.

Walking through these ancient stone streets, exploring some tiny shops, bakeries or historical sites, the smell from the macaroon factories, the taste of the traditional dishes such as roast rabbit or duck and all the amazing wines that we tried were truly remarkable.

Small village around Bordeaux

Saint Emilion

At Le Comptoir de Genès wine bar, there is no wine list: the wines are displayed in wooden boxes all over the restaurant and you can pick your own bottle.

It is really exciting going around and reading about the wines, the Chateau and the winemakers but in case you feel lost, the staff are very friendly, knowledgeable and they will proudly assist you on the choice.

It is like going to a candy shop !!!

Le Comptoir de Genès

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