España Day 2: Rioja & Madrid

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

We awoke in Bilbao and retired in Madrid, and in-between we spent the day touring the Bodegas Montecillo in the Rioja region, where Osborne’s Montecillo wines are made.

We toured the facility with Maria Martinez Sierra, the lead winemaker, who was an absolute pleasure, and completely passionate about her work. We tasted their Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva and then had the special treat of tasting the 1981 Gran Reserva Selección Especial. It knocked my socks off. And then… she gave us each a bottle. I told her I would save it until September when I could really drink it. Her inscription alluded to the happy celebration ahead.

Lunch was over the top. A typical Andalusian feast in a restaurant that seemed to be open only for us, we had five or six courses including typical Ibernian ham (from pigs who only eat acorns), lamb chops grilled atop vines from Maria’s grapes, aged one year (we watched the grilling happen on the ground of the back patio, an outstanding almond torte, and the first cherries from their tree.

A few hours’ drive back to Bilbao and a short flight to Madrid, suddenly we were in the capital city, and eating another meal, with tons more wine. This meal, at Meson Cinco Jotas (Five J’s), was again multi-coursed and intense. It was at this point that my stomach asked for some reprieve. After slurping down a cup of traditional Salmorejo (like Gazpacho, but made without bread), I took it easy and headed home for rest. Phew.