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Stephen Arnould, Ex Cellar and his blog from Gonzalez Byass wineries tour

Published:  29 June, 2010

Stephen Arnould from Ex Cellar and his daily blog during the independent merchants trip around Gonzalez Byass wineries:

Even less rest early next day as we left at 8.00am to drive through Aragón skirting Huesca and Zaragoza before moving into Navarra (no vineyards visits this time), and finally climbing into the Comunidad de la Rioja, where we were immediately met by a greener landscape and vines in all directions.

Skirting Logroño, we climbed to the village of Ollaurí, home to the welcoming Beronia winery, originally a small winery founded by a group of Basque wine and gastronomy fans and now one of the top ten producers of Rioja by volume.

Despite some staggering statistics; 2 millions bottles sold each year, 13 million litres of wine in stock at any one time, 7000 m² the area of the barrel store, the winery maintains an intimate atmosphere and the wines show an exciting mix of the traditional and the modern.

For instance the Rosado is made from 100% Tempranillo and has a pale colour and light, refreshing nature, while the reds display more fruit than oak on the palate.

Of special interest for wine specialists were the single varietals Graciano and Mazuelo, usually only used in blends, the latter having a very appealing bouquet.

Finally we climbed to the panoramic dining-room and to lunch at 3.30pm, a chance to sample more of the wines tasted earlier and in particular the Rioja Gran Reserva & the iconic III a C, named in homage to the Berones tribe who settled in the area in the third century BC, all these in partnership with lamb - what else in this traditional part of Spain?

Well-informed and certainly well-fed, we said goodbye to this attractive part of Spain for the final leg of our journey.