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After a long bus ride from the airport we arrived at the Palacio Manso de Zuniga in the tiny town of Canillas del Rio Tuerto. This town consists of no more than 120 people and sits sandwiched between the towns of Alesanco and Canas. We scurry to our rooms and are pretty impressed with the modernization of the interior of the palace. We pick rooms and start settling in.
Chip asks if a few of us would like to go to the restaurant that we will be dining at each evening and for some lunches. I am exhausted but energized from the excitement of the journey we are about to embark on, so instead of sleeping, I go. We walk through the town, a ghost town. The windows are closed and there is no one in sight. It’s a quaint little town, with notes of brown and red and little potted plants in the windows. The towns are on one long road, with views of the rolling hills and some vineyards in sight. It is breathtaking for me because I have never seen such a remote area. We file in line and begin the walk, taking in the sights. In about ten minutes we arrive at La Casona Restaurant in Canas (which will later become known as Rosies), a small place with a cozy feel. Some locals are already inside having lunch and wine. I spot some Cava and get excited to begin experiencing the wines of Rioja! We introduce ourselves; say that we’ll be back for dinner and head back home.
We have our first tasting as a group at 6:30pm, which will become the set time for Chip’s tasting lessons. Our first wine
is from Marques de Riscal, a Limousin. It is my first monovarietal, Verdejo. We move on to the Rosado, which I love. I usually do not buy or drink rose wines but little do I know that all of that is about to change. We taste some Tempranillo and Crianza (Marques Arietta). I am impressed with the tannic structure of these wines and the gorgeous, expressive aromas. I look forward to this trip more and more. We wrap up the tasting. We are all dead tired but very excited, so we get ready for dinner. Rosie, the mother hen of La Casona, and eventually the woman who kept us well fed on this trip, introduces herself and sets down three different types of wine; a blanco (white), clara (rose) and a tinto (red). Shocking myself, I opt for the Rosado!!! I love its acidity and soft fruit flavors. Their wines are house wines, meaning that they were made for their restaurant and therefore have the La Casona label. We are served a “guiso,” or stew of potatoes (patatas in Spain) with chorizo in a light tomato sauce. Next, we are given a cut of “bacalao,” or codfish with more potatoes. The sun is setting and despite what we were told about the weather, the day and evening are gorgeous and we all go out into the back patio to celebrate our arrival. We go home and do some more exploring, then head to bed.
First day was a success and we are ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
Journal written by Nicole Lindares vindepresse.com
Nicole Linares is a student at the Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality, USA, an active member of her schools Wine Academy and budding wine writer