I am in La Rioja, Spain for the European Wine Bloggers Conference. Unfortunately, and much to the amusement of the other 39 attendees, my bag is in Palermo, Italy. Shirts, electronics, wine samples, underwear…
So Friday morning was spent in Bilbao buying up cheap clothing to see me through the weekend. Seems someone picked my bag off the transfer bus at Stansted Airport by mistake, and managed to check it onto their flight before noticing it wasn’t their bag and despite five increasingly desperate announcements I put out over the tannoy system.
I managed to find a few grundies and t-shirts from Zara, and El Corte Inglés (the only shop that still had any summer items). I’ll wear a nice warm leather jacket like the next guy, but it’s 30°C here and sunny.
I was quite embarrassed to be the only person not to have wine samples at the opening evening tasting. But this was followed by a great tapas meal at El Lorenzo in Logroño. Jamon Serrano, and mushrooms and scrambled egg being the two dishes that stood out.
This morning we went to the awesome and monied winery, Dinastía Vivanco for the conference, a tour, lunch, and tasting. The Vivanco family has spent invested huge amounts of wonga on a veritable palace full of Rolls Royce standard wine equipment, but the level of confidence and buzz about the place gives the firm impression that things are going well and success is assured. Certainly the quality of the wines, for a place built in 2004, are excellent. Rafa Vivanco, the winemaking one (Santiago is the business brother) is enthusiastic, coherent and not afraid to experiment.
There is also a superb restaurant with panoramic views across Rioja, and a museum that boasts, amongst other things, the largest collection of corkscrews in a single room, anywhere in the world (over 3,000). I’ll blog about one or two of the wines in a later post, but if you see any Dinastía Vivanco wines (widely available in UK restaurants) I encourage you to give them a try.
Tonight was spent at another great tasting, this time provided by a huge range of Portuguese and Spanish producers, followed by more tapas at La Chata (not as good as El Lorenzo but the belly pork was awesome). Let’s just say the scales are creaking.
Tomorrow finds us visiting a couple more wineries, including one of my favourites, Riscal. Life could be worse, bag or no bag.