It is in Spain that the great WorldWine Women Adventure begins (for real)!
After harvesting in Burgundy and a quick but very instructive stop in Bordeaux, we’re heading in direction of Spain. We spend a few days in Santander with Betty's real parents, the beautifully refurbished Volkswagen T3 that will be our home for the next 3 months and we cannot wait to hit the wine road.
Armed with our burgundy sweaters, our loaded camera and a mix of excitement and recklessness, we launch the “Wine Trotteuses” playlist and hit the gas pedal without looking back.
After a few hours on the road, the steep landscapes of Rioja reveal themselves before our astonished eyes, with its rolling hills and the strong contrasts between the reddish earth and the bright green of the late summer vineyards.
Spain's oldest wine-growing region, with 65,000 hectares dedicated to grape cultivation, combines the ambivalent will to respect ancestral methods with the desire for renewal instilled by the new generation.
We enjoyed tasting the mythical wines of this multifaceted region, where tempranillo is the king grape variety. Between Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa, the diversity of landscapes and wines makes the richness of this appellation. Beyond the elegant and woody wines that make the reputation of Rioja, our palate was surprised by wines in carbonic maceration* and very exotic "semi dulce" whites. Our favorite discovery was Supurao, a sweet wine made in January, after allowing the grapes to dehydrate and concentrate sugar and aromas for 4 months.
In a very small village called Sojuela, we had the chance to take part in the harvest and hang bunches of grapes on cords, with the promise to come back in January to see the winemaking.
Strolling on board the Betty, we are impressed by the sometimes excessive size of the cellars we see, due to the way wine is consumed in Spain. Indeed, Spanish are not used to buying bottles to keep them at home and drink them a few years later. This is the job of the winemakers, who have to keep in their bodega all the bottles waiting for the year when they will be good to drink, which requires a large storage space.
Then it is already time to leave the Rio Oja to go down to the valley of another river, the Duero. Arriving at night, in a small village of forty inhabitants, a family crossed at the bend of a street takes us then in the deep traditions of the region. As we descend a hidden staircase, with candles in our hands, we discover the cellars hidden under each house in the village. Dug by the ancestors in the hard rock, they represent, more than the place where the wine of the year is prepared, real homes where every day all the generations gather to savor together the end of a working day.
The Betty, tossed by the wind like a sail, then makes a small detour to the Toro region where the yellow color of the plains predominates. The color of harvested wheat, wilted sunflowers and poor, sandy soil where century-old vines reveal the secrets of this high altitude terroir.
What a contrast with the ochre-colored mountains of the last region we discover: Priorat, a tiny appellation that shines in the vast Catalonia. Lost in the winding roads, how not to fall under the spell of these romantic landscapes where the vines are hardly cultivated on the terraces dug in altitude.
Two styles of wines stand out: those from the vines cultivated at the bottom of the villages, robust, dense and full of sunshine, and those from the vines located on the terraces at altitude, elegant, fine and luminous.
It is the Priorat, among all the regions visited, that marks us the most for its beauty, energy, Mediterranean cuisine and Catalan language.
It is with a cargo of olive oil, a touch of nostalgia and sunshine in our hearts that we leave Spain, a country with many wine-growing faces.
We will remain touched by the strong relationship that Spanish winemakers have with the land, which takes on an almost spiritual dimension for them.
Small villages perched in the mountains, breathtaking nature, warmth in the landscapes and in the welcome of the inhabitants, we will come back.
España, gracias por todo !
* method of wine elaboration without passing in oak barrel for aging. Barrels are a French tradition imported during the Phylloxera crisis at the end of the 19th century.
LAS mujeres del vino
Fourteenth generation of the family vineyard of La Rioja Alavesa
María Luisa Cuevas
Former lawyer and head of the Bodega Ferratus in Ribera del Duero
Belén Sanz Cid
Technical and oenological director of the historical winery of Ribera del Duero : Dehesa de los Canónigos
Blanca Ozcáriz Raventós
Biologist and winemaker in her vineyards of Jardí dels Sentits in Penedés
The Venus of Priorat in its estate Mas Martinet