Personally I have worked in the wine industry during several times in my career and what we enjoy the most in our team is to belong to the wine community where it is made. We founded this fully bonded boutique operator after traveling a lot and enjoying wines from around the world. Only 30 minutes away from where we live we can enjoy Ribera del Duero, Toro, Rueda, Cigales, Tierra de Leon and not much further Arribes, Bierzo and Rioja. We have worked in harvests as teenagers and during University, we live fascinated by the impact of the four seasons on the vineyards and the magic that allows us to enjoy wine. In our team, some are titled agricultural engineers and know everything about the plant and the wine making processes, or they are just vocational gourmets…we have all the contacts locally to make sure a wine visit here is a fantastic experience and help travelers enjoy wine in a different way when they are back home.
We have seen grapes grow and have enjoyed all types of wine as a natural family thing from very young age. We were lucky to drink quite a lot of the classics like the legendary Vega Sicilia (buying directly from the winery, which you can only do if you have a license and we inherited that from my grandfather) but also cheap and cheerful claret from Cigales (the local rose).
We decided one day that we should share this local wine and gastronomy heritage with the world and since then we are dedicated to bring all nationalities of the globe to Spain to enjoy the very different wine regions and our varied gastronomy.
Having worked in the production side of wine, then in the UK in the wine trade business as well as in the travel business for almost 20 years, we have learnt that no wine region is better than other…you just have to plan your life properly and visit them all!
Interview with Oscar
When did you discover your passion for wine?
When we were kids our grandparents used to give us bread with wine. You grow within a wine culture all around you here in Valladolid, surrounded by 5 DOs in one province. Then I started helping during harvest and having my first glasses of wine of course, cheep and cheerful, fruity young roses from Cigales the most accessible type for a young student. Or young fresh verdejo whites from Rueda. I was lucky because as a family tradition coming from my grandfather we can buy directly from Vega Sicilia (you need a license, only a limited number of people of companies in the world can do that), so I also had the privilege to taste the best of Ribera del Duero from a very young age.
Then I started in the wine business as a professional and went to work in the UK. In London I really discovered wine! I remember the first thing I did when I landed was to have a glass or white Rueda and a red Ribera del Duero…but then started to explore all the wines in the world. All types, all prices a huge wine culture in a place that does not produce wine. I learned a lot. Since then I have been involved in the sector, now from a trading point of view and from a Tourism point of view. I want to share with everybody these places where wine is made since roman times and make sure they have a great experience.
What are your key highlights of the Ribera del Duero wine region?
Very good wine is the highlight, as it is difficult to find bad wine here. On a different level the highlights are without a doubt the mix between history and nature. From a nature standpoint this is not a place for dramatic or extreme nature and this is precisely what makes it interesting for wine lovers…it is just normal nature (the only thing which is extreme here is temperature). Castles, cathedrals and monasteries, roman remains etc confirm the fact that very good wine has been made here for centuries. You can only do good wine with good product and great terroir so the experience here is to enjoy both sides: history and wine. Staying around overnight and extending your visit to the main cities nearby will make it a great one. Boutique hotels in the vineyards or urban places closed to the tapas bars where you can taste all the wines around. From a wine point of view I would visit the various areas and styles in the DO. The classics and the modern...and why not taste the roses from Cigales and whites from Rueda, only 30 minutes away, even enjoy one of the microbreweries doing local artisan beers in interesting buildings…
Do you have a personal favorite winery in the area and if so why?
Difficult question. Vega Sicilia will always be my preference. Then I have several others like Finca Villacreces, Dehesa de los Canonigos, Aalto…but there are two which are really special. From a very personal point of view, Dominio de Atauta at the eastern side of the region which is a very small winery in a unique setting with some of the oldest and highest vines, and Pago de Carraovejas which year after year have managed to produce consistently a great wine that you never get bored with.
Which wine region in the world would you like to visit next?
Well it is now some time since I don´t go to Bierzo, at the northwest of Spain in the Leon province. The local grapes, landscape and climate conditions make this place a unique wine visit. Very mountainous and with much more rainfall than Ribera del Duero they have Mencia and Godello, the two grapes that are producing some of the best top wines in Spain right now. Our guides do take our customers there to enjoy the area and their well known gastronomy within the tours we design so I need to visit my friends from the wineries and other partners to share a bottle of wine and see how things are going over there. It is not so far away but we are always so busy!
Finally, what is a traditional local wine and food pairing dish?
As normal nature here, the local food pairing dish is also very plain and simple: cheese or oven roasted suckling lamb and wine. But to describe a typical meal that here we start with mature cheese from local sheep species and the best asparagus in the world, coming from Tudela de Duero, which would make a great starter. Alternatively you could have a typical garlic soup, a more winter type of start. A salad made of cod and local vegetables is also highly recommended, believe it or not cod is a typical dish in this area, far away from the coast. Then of course the suckling lamb (also from the local species) wood oven roasted which only uses water and salt in the process is superb. With the local bread and a simple salad lettuce, tomato and onion…this is what we have when we want to celebrate something special and want to enjoy the best bottle of Ribera del Duero wine!
Read Oscar's Ribera del Duero travel guide and tips here.
Don't miss his amazing tour in Ribera del Duero! Check it here.