WanderCurtis Wine

Wine tastings, corporate events, reviews and recommendations

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Familia Torres wine dinner hosted by Lucas Gailhac on September 17th 7.00pm at Frederick’s Restaurant


Torres started producing wine in 1870, they are one of the best known wine families in Spain. Their estate is based in Penedes near Barcelona however they have Vineyards in Priorat, Ribera Del Duero, Rioja , Costers Del Segre Conca de Barbera and other areas. They also produce premium wines in Chile and California.



Torres Esplendor by Vardon Kennet 2013

Loch Duart salmon & avocado tartare, edamame beans

Torres Milmanda 2016 (chardonnay)

Duck breast, dauphinois potatoes, diced butternut squash & peas

Torres Perpetual 2015 (Priorat) Torres Mas La Plana 2013 (Cabernet)

Selection of cheese from The Cheese Plate

Torres Mas Borras (Pinot Noir)

The evenings favourite was the fruit driven Mas La Plana 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, closely followed by The Perpetual Priorat which was more restrained.

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Bodegas y Viñedos Codorníu Raventós

A tremendous evening of wine and tapas with Codorniu Raventos at Iberica Marylebone.

Oscar Urrutia presented the wines and gave us an insight into three of Spain’s most important regions, a super opportunity to compare and contrast.  However some common feature ran through all the wines: the high standard of the winemaking and their superb value! IMG_5005

Here are the tasting notes:

 Anna de Codorniu Blanc de Blancs Reserva, NV.

A fresh sparkler with citrus & ripe stone fruits and a nice touch of toasty pastry made with chardonnay by the champagne method.

 Vina Pomal Rioja Blanco, 2014. 70 % Viura and 30 % Malvasía.

Nose a little subdued. Citrus notes, nice mouthfeel and a touch of toast from the American and French barrels the wine was aged in. Not particularly long.

Legaris Roble, Ribera del Duero, 2014. 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo).

Roble wines are intended for earlier drinking and with less oak and bottle aging tend as in this case to be more fruit focused. Balanced with nice high altitude freshness there is never the less a lick of coconut and vanilla that adds interest.  Very drinkable & great value!

Scala Dei Garnatxa, Priorat, 2014. Grenache.

Fresh red fruits on the nose, I loved the bright crunchiness that the high acidity gives this wine, great balance, and definite mineral / stoney notes no doubt from Priorat’s famous licorella slate. A superbly made wine, one of my favourite wines of the evening.

La Vicalanda Reserva, Bodegas Bilbaínas, Rioja, 2010. 100% Tempranillo from the Rioja Alta region.
This wine was wine of the month recently and for good reason. Lovely smoky, toasty notes on the nose then dark fruit, blueberry & cherries, smooth soft round tannins on the palate, more fruit and tasty hoisin and balsamic savoury flavours.  Long and very delicious.

Legaris Reserva, Ribera del Duero, 2011. 100% Tinto Fino 

Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, 50% new and 50% old, then a further 2 years in the bottle before being released. This wine is definitely the roble’s big brother, darker and more powerful with concentrated dark fruit, combined with toast & coffee on the palate. Full bodied with firm but ripe tannin and great length.

Scala Dei Prior, Scala Dei, Priorat, 2013. Cabernet, Grenache & Syrah.

Dark colour from the cabernet and Syrah, Black fruit, pepper, spice & herbs on the nose, More concentrated dark fruit in the mouth, with forward mouth coating tannins and very full body, good overall balance and very long. Needs decanting or a few more years of bottle age to really unfold its many layers.oscar 02

Septima Tardio, Mendoza, 2103, Argentina 100% Gewürztraminer.

This is a late harvest wine made 1,050 metres above sea level in the Southern hemisphere. Lovely floral notes mixed with an interesting whiff of vanilla and smoke on the nose.  Sweet dried & exotic fruits on the palate, again with a lick of vanilla from the American oak barrels, rich without being flabby, linger nicely.

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A Taste of Spain with Codorniu Raventos at Iberica Marylebone


We brought in the New Year at Iberica in Marylebone a fabulous tasting from the excellent portfolio of Codorniu Raventos , presented by the charismatic Oscar Urrutia , their fine wine manager.

Codorniu  is best known for their Cava, however they own 10 wineries and 20 prestigious brands in the best wine regions including Rioja and Ribera Del Duero: Codorníu, Raimat, Legaris, Bach, Scala Dei, Abadía de Poblet, Bilbaínas Winery, Nuviana, Artesa and Séptima in Argentina.

Codorniu Raventos are the oldest family business in Spain and the 17th oldest in the world. With more than 460 years of history dedicated to creating wines and cavas



Cava from Codorniu or Bilbainas


Vina Pomal – Rioja viura and malvasia fermented in barrelspain

Legaris Roble:  young, fresh Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero                      

Scala Dei Garnatxa: Young Grenache from Priorat

Manzanilla olives
Bread with olive oil
Spanish cheese selection with quince
Toasted bread with tomato
Selection of cured meats


La Vicalanda Reserva:  Classic Rioja Alta Tempranillo

 Legaris Reserva: Ribera del Duero Tempranillo concentration and fresh fruit

Scala Dei Priorat: A fanatastic example of what Priorat can offer. 


Warm endive salad
Valdeón cheese & caramel coated hazelnuts (v)
San Simón cheese dip,toasted bread, sun blushed tomatoes & rocket (v)
Potatoes with spicy brava sauce (v)
Fish & chips with mojo verde sauce
Padrón peppers with Maldon salt (v)
Ibérica’s serrano ham croquettes
Seared cod with Vizcaína sauce
Fried chorizo lollipops with pear alioli sauce
The Ibérica burger with secreto pork loin & Piparra peppers
Creamy black rice with squid, prawns and alioli sauce


Septima Tardio, which is a Gewurtztraminer from  vineyards in Mendoza.

Caramelised Spanish rice pudding
Chestnut crème caramel, coffee soil & chocolate ice cream

Kiran & Adam taste Prior Scala Dei 2013 December’s wine of the month.

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La Rioja Alta Wine Dinner – February 24th 2015

alta For a full write up of this evening please see Discovering the wines of La Rioja Alta  from the lovely Emma Symington of Wine Australia

 Our host on the evening was  La Rioja Alta’s export manager , the charismatic Francisco Corpas. See below for the menu and wine selection –





Tuna carpaccio, radish & sesame dressing, micro cress
Roasted loin of Welsh lamb, slow cooked lamb croquettes, cavolo nero with rosemary jus
Chocolate Brownie  and Mandarin posset

Champagne Lacourte-Godbillon Premier Cru Brut NV
Champagne Vazart Coquart, Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Chouilly Extra Brut NV
Albariño 2013 Lagar de Cervera, Rias Baixas
Aster Reserva 2001, Ribera del Duero
Vina Arana Reserva 2006
Viña Alberdi Reserva 2008
Viña Ardanza Reserva 2005
Gran Reserva 904 2004 
Gran Reserva 890 2001


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Rioja Wine Journey 2014 – The tasting notes.

Hurray for old school Rioja!  Where else do they produce wine of such a high standard, lovingly nurture and mature it for you and then let you buy it at prices that are a dim and distant memory for most of the other premium wine regions of the world?

Three intensive days of tasting in the region sampled the traditional, the modernists, and the terroir schools of Rioja and whilst there are some fantastic modern 100% Tempranillos and some wonderful terroir driven single vineyard wines it’s very hard to beat wines such as Muga Gran Reserva, any of the Rioja Alta reservas, Cune Imperial & Vina Real for value and shear drinking pleasure.


Muga Blanco2013

90% Viura & 10% Malvasia raised in new French oak with 3 months lees contact.

Medium acidity fairly full bodied with a slightly oily texture   Peach stone, pastry hint of smoke, lovely long finish. Very good.

Muga Crianza 2010

70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha & 10% Mazuelo & Graciano. 24 months in barrels & 12 months in bottle.

Fruit, vanilla & smoke on the nose. Medium body & acid lovely vanilla, coconut and bags of red fruit, complex. Coco powder like soft tannins. Very long and tasty.  Very very good.

Muga Seleccion Especial 2009.

70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha & 10% Mazuelo & Graciano. 28 months in barrels & 12 months in bottle.

Scented, perfumed nose, intense and lingering. Lovely balance in the mouth, lots of lip smacking savoury flavours with sweet caramel, very rich, very long, excellent.

Muga Gran Reserva Prado Enea 2005.

80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha , Mazuelo & Graciano. A selection of the ripest from each harvest. 36 months in barrels & 36 months in bottle.

A little reluctant on the nose, opens up with spice, sweet strawberry chews, cinnamon, cloves and Xmas spices. On the palate ripe strawberries, orange peel, more complex spices great balance.  Finishing very long with dried orange peel.  Very refined outstanding wine.

Torre Muga 2010

75% Tempranillo,  15% Mazuelo &  10% Graciano.  24 months in barrels & 18 of which in new French oak.

Opaque ruby colour. Perfumed nose, raspberries, very full bodied medium acidity and high tannin but soft and mouth coating, intense red fruit and woody flavours, rather primal at this stage but very long.



Roda Reserva 2008

90% Tempranillo, 4% Garnacha, 6% Graciano. 30 year old bush vines. Aged in 50% new French oak. 16 months in barrel and 20 months cellaring in bottle.

Ruby colour light intensity.

On the nose, cherry & oak, bit of vanilla. Medium body, fresh acidity. More red fruit & cherries with supple tannins and good length. Delicate and fresh.

Roda Reserva I  2007

100% Tempranillo, 30 year old bush vines. Aged in 50% new French oak. 16 months in barrel and 20 months cellaring in bottle.

Deep ruby colour medium intensity.

On the nose, more plumb quite compact and reticent at the moment some mineral and a hint of  oak, Fuller body, more structure than Roda again tight, needs food to bring out the fruit, good length.

During our tour of Roda’s state of the art cellars the wine making philosophy for Roda & Roda I was explained. All the grape types are vilified separately producing 17 vats of different wines.  The wines going into Roda are selected for their freshness & red fruit character and those going into the Roda I blend for their black fruit character.


La Rioja Alta

LAGAR DE CERVERA Albariño 2013

D.O Rias Baixas. 100% Albariño, 10& malolactic fermentation, aged on lees.

Pronounced aromas of exotic fruit, mineral with citrus notes. In the mouth fresh acidity more exotic fruit and a nice mineral, saline finish.  Very nice.


100% Tinta del País. From Ribera del Duero high altitude vineyards aged in new French oak for 22 months.

Dark opaque ruby colour. On the nose dark fruits, coffee, & toast.  In the mouth more dark fruit, nuttiness, coffee and toasted wood.  Nice and fresh with medium well integrated tannins.


100% Tinta del País. From Ribera del Duero high altitude vineyards aged in new French oak for 12 months

Dark opaque ruby colour.  A bit closed and unformed on the nose, rather like sticking your nose into a barrel, fruit & charcoal. High acidity, medium to full body, lots of structure. Powerful intense black fruit with spicy. Savoury notes.  Very long.  Excellent potential.

Torre de Oña. Finca San Martín 2011 Crianza

100% Tempranillo from Rioja Alavesa. 16 months in 60% new American oak.

Clear ruby colour. ON the nose red fruit with a touch of vanilla and smoke.  In the mouth more red fruit, strawberries, sweet caramel & some toast.  Tasty.

Torre de Oña Reserva 2009

95% Tempranillo blended with 5% of Mazuelo from Rioja Alavesa. Aged for 20 months in a mixture of new French and older Caucasion barrels.

Dark ruby colour. On the nose red fruit, strawberries, cherries and a layer of toast and spice. On the palate a nice creamy texture, fruit and vanilla, medium length.  Overall very tasty.

La Rioja Alta VIÑA ALBERDI Reserva 2007

100% Tempranillo. Aged for 2 years first in new American oak barrel made Alta’s own cooper. Then bottled in 2010.

Deep ruby colour. On the nose fresh red fruit, then toast, coffee and perhaps a little green pepper. In the mouth nice mouth coating soft tannin, enough freshness and a lovely mix of sweet fruit, and burnt caramel.  Lovely and with plenty of development ahead.

La Rioja Alta VIÑA ARANA Reserva 2005

Tempranillo: 95 %, Mazuelo: 5 %, Aged in Alta’s own American oak barrels of 4 years and the bottled about 5 years ago.

Clear ruby colour. On the nose opening up with candied strawberries, then a complex mix of leather and tobacco and spice. In the mouth medium body, great balance and refinement red fruit, leather, and forest floor in a long finish. This is fantastic stuff! Available at around £17a bottle in the UK this represents outstanding value. Try to hold onto it for a few more years though as it will only improve.

La Rioja Alta VIÑA ARDANZA Reserva 2005

80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha. The grapes vinefied and aged separately for about 3 years and blended and bottled in 2009.

Dark ruby colour beginning to brick on the rim. Ripe concentrated black fruit on the nose, cherry chews, and liquorice.  Where the Arana is elegance and refinement this is sensual and hedonistic. Ripe mixed berries, vanilla, spice and caramel with a silky mouth feel.  Very long and satisfying.  Again an outstanding wine at an outstanding price.

La Rioja Alta GRAN RESERVA 904 2004

90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano. Aged 5 years on used American oak barrels then in bottles since 2009.

Clear ruby colour. Slightly reticent nose of red fruit, with savoury sweet vanilla oak & and hints of caramel.  Great balance on the palate with intense fruit, high tannin and great freshness.  Tightly structured with lots of promise. Incredibly long. Post this tasting we had the 2001 904 at dinner which was superb and the wine of the trip for many of us so the 2004 bodes very well.

La Rioja Alta GRAN RESERVA 890 1998

Tempranillo 95%, Graciano 3% and Mazuelo 2%.  After six years aging in American oak barrels a selection of the best are then aged in bottle since then.

Garnet colour brick rim. A complex nose of spice, chalk, candied fruit, cloves, spice and lingering smoke. In the mouth medium body and acidity. Lovely complex meld of orange peel, cloves, tobacco. Very smooth and creamy mouth feel with an extremely long lingering finish.  An extraordinary wine.

The Rioja Alta line up brings home just how much Rioja has to offer in the way of complex aged wines. What a fantastic range of wines from top to bottom. Where else can you buy wines of this standard ready to drink at these prices?



Cune Gran Reserva Imperial 2007

85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. All new American & French oak barrels for 2 years followed by 2 more year’s bottle aging.

Medium garnet colour.

Little subdued on the nose, with coaxing light red fruit, charcoal, spices and a touch of liquorice.

Medium body and acidity with soft mouth coating tannin, black cherry, roasted coffee, complex with great balance and a long finish.  Excellent.  Retailing at about £25 per bottle in the UK this a great wine for the price.


Contino (part of the CVNE group)

Contino Blanco 2010

Viura: 60 %, Malvasia: 20 %, Garnacha blanca: 20 %. Fermentation is finished in French oak barrels and aged on its lees.

Clear straw colour.

On the nose quite floral, with stone fruits and some spice & wood. In the mouth full bodied lovely mix of stone fruit, pastry and spicy wood with a long creamy textured finish. Delicious! One of Adam’s favourite wines of the trip!

Contino Graciano 2007

100% Graciano. Only produced in the best years aged in French & Hungarian oak for 13 months and bottle aged for a year.

Dark purple colour opaque. Not totally clear but bright.

On the nose, floral, violets, ripe raspberries, touch of wood and a whiff of smoke, then as the wine opens cloves and spices.

On the palate medium body sweet black fruit, very fresh, complex mix of clean fruit, subtle spice and tobacco. Great persistent long finish. Excellent, this wine was just too good to spit!

Contino is unusual in Rioja as it follows the chateau model by only using grapes grown in its own vineyards. Nearly all the main Rioja wineries blend grapes from across multiple vineyards selecting for the reservas & grand reservas by quality and ripeness. In Contino by contrast wine maker Jesús de Madrazo Mateo seeks to express the terrior of the vineyards in his wines. Hence single varietal and single vineyard wines such as Graciano & Olivo.

Vina Real (also part of the CVNE group)

Vina Real Oro 2009 Reserva.

Tempranillo: 90 %, Mazuelo: 3 %, Graciano: 3 %, Garnacha Tinta: 3 %. Vinified in their amazing high tech cellars carved into the hill like a Bond villain’s lair in Rioja Alavesa. Matured in American & French oak for 2 years then in bottle in vast towers of wine under the hill.

Dark intense ruby colour. The nose displays candied strawberries, ripe raspberries and black cherries, subtle notes of leather. Medium body and acid. On the palate more strawberries, sweet spices & earthy touches. A long lingering finish where the firm tannins become apparent. Excellent.

Vina Real Oro 2006 Reserva.

Tempranillo: 90 %, Mazuelo: 3 %, Graciano: 3 %, Garnacha Tinta: 3 %.

Intense ruby colour. A striking nose of strawberries, spice and smoke.  Again medium body with lovely sweet strawberry fruit, baked fruits, savoury leather and forest floor notes. More classic than the 2009.



Ysios 2007 reserva

100% Tempranillo, aged in 50% new oak mainly French.

Dark ruby opaque. Very slightly cloudy. On the nose a bit reticent, some strawberry, red fruit then coffee notes. In the mouth fresh, medium body, more red fruit & a nice mineral zing. Opens up with time. Very good.

Ysios Edicion Limitada 2009.

100% Tempranillo, aged in 75% new oak mainly French. Bottled in a very heavy opaque black bottle.

Dark purple opaque colour. Intense nose of ripe dark fruit, ripe black berries then liquorice, balsamic vinegar and spice.

Medium body, medium towards high acidity and high tannin. Concentrated with more sweet blackberry and spice.   A big modern style wine with slight alcohol buzz. Excellent.

Bodegas Ysios is also a chateau style winery (Calatrava’s amazing winery fulfils the role of modern chateau nicely) making boutique wines from its own grapes.

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Rioja Wine Journey – June 2014

It started at Bodegas Muga with their Blanco and 3 days later finished in glorious sunshine at Riscal with their Rosado.

In between we enjoyed the  pleasure and indulgence of Roda , La Rioja Alta , Cvne , Contino , Vina Real and Ysios,

Interspersed by the fine dining experiences of Beethoven , Terete and Las Dueles.

Haro marks the Western edge of Rioja country surrounded by Rioja Alta .It’s a short car journey from Bilbao.

Recommended accommodation is Los Agostinos ( previously a convent , military headquarters and a jail ! )

It is ideally located for visiting the wineries which are all together a short walk over the river near the train station.

The location is important . After the phyloxerra crisis wiped out Bordeaux vines in the 1870’s the bordelaise turned to Rioja to supply their empty cellars.

Huge oak casks were transported across the Pyrenees for this purpose . On arrival at Bodegas Muga the Steam engine and cask is parked outside reminding us of the roots of the wine industry here. Full tasting notes to follow



Senor Revel-Chion, Tour organisor and general Master of ceremonies had worked up a fine appetite, so following recommendation of the locals we headed to Beethoven .

Not as might be implied  the Haro philharmonic orchestra , but instead a symphony of food and wine matching, conducted by our travelling sommelier Mr Stuart Grostern.

A note of warning , there are in fact three Beethoven outlets 1,2 and 3 . For fine dining make sure you book Bethoven 2 .

The place was a tad quiet but the food did not disappoint . The most enormous hunks of rare T- Bone sliced up on sizzling sharing platters served up with Vina Tondonia 1994 ,  Prado Enea 2005, The Vina Real was corked and returned.

A bottle of Roda Reserva in the  square for the world cup opener was the fitting end to a busy first day .

Friday morning started at Bodegas Roda Edurnay’s tour was impressive with Coloured barrels and a photography exhibition of their  new perfectly clean winery.

So clean infact that our fitness coach  Gerald managed to headbutt a window which was so polished it wasn’t visible.



We toured the old  cellar from the 1800,s which gently sloped

leading down to river Ebro ready for the barrels to be shipped out to ports afar.

We tasted Roda and Roda 1 and their lovely extra virgin Olive oils




Next stop and literally next door as all the wineries are huddled around the train track, the magnificent La Rioja Alta

Francisco conducted the most entertaining tour . The cellars . Their own cooperage.

The original copper wiring and tracks as  Haro was the first town 0utside London to have electricity.

The vast storage facilities the amazing tasting room. We were treated like kings. Francisco a gem.

The tasting was awesome including 10 wines from Alta’s four properties , La Rioja Alta SA , Torre de Ona in Rioja Alavesa , Aster in Ribera del Dueros and Lagar de Cervera in Galicia.

Full tasting note will be posted .. incredible and  going home gifts ! A beautiful book ‘Three centuries of la Rioja Alta’ and a  bottle of Vina Ardanza. Incredible wines and generosity.

This was going to be some act to follow !

Next stop CVNE with the lovely Marta Echavarri.

A tour of most mouldy cellar ever seen! More fantastic wine including Imperial Gran Reserva 2007.


It was time for a well earned late lunch at Terete.

Young lamb slow cooked the  speciality. Tim’s continued craving for the white asparagus, Stuart and Kiran happily let loose our wallets and the extensive wine list

Wines with lunch included Imperial Reserva 1978,Vina Bosconia lopez Heredia 1991, La rioja Alta 904 2001

We didn’t realize, we were sitting on top pf a fully functioning winwery making 10,000 bottles just for restaurant.

Time to burn off some calories . Big Gerald led us up a mountain bike past Villa Alba .We refreshed ourselves with a swim in the  Ebro .

The day ended in the square to the dismay of the flag clad locals as Spain were handed a lesson from the Dutch.


Senor Revel-Chion had assured, this is Spain,  we would have no problem taking our bikes on the train from Haro to Logrono. Unfortunately , probably  as the nation was in abject misery from the football we were denied and headed by car to Contino.

Lorena was our most hospitable tour guide of this French style single vineyard  winery. Part of the CVNE stable located near LaGuardia at a bend in the River Ebro.

We were welcomed by their beautifully made Contino Blanco  2011 on the terrace overlooking the vines .

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Then on to Vega Real located on the Cerro de la Mesa hill in Rioja Alavesa. 40 million euros and 7 years to build . A gargantuan project, a tome to wine .

A 57 m barrel sunk into a mountain.The brainchild of Bordelais architect Philippe Mazieres.

Cellars bored into mountain side.Massive stainless steel UFO’s lifted into place with 6000 kg of grapes, with a 25 ton capacity crane mounted with a pivot capacity.

9 storey towers, skyscrapers of wine storage . 8 depth barrel storage illusionary roofs, barely conceivable .

Tasting of rare single varietal  Graciano 2006 ,Vega Real Oro 2009 . Kiran for once didn’t ask for spittoon ! The proof in the pudding of the quality of these wines.

Next stop , the lovely 13th Century Medieval walled town of  Lagardia for tapas . Set up high on a hilltop with marvellous panoramic views of Rioja wine country.

A circular bike ride through the vines on the camino natural  to mountain village of San Vicente and beautiful village of Briones kept us lively until

dinner at Las Dueles.  This is a top recommendation for any stay in Haro. Fillet steak and foie gras , tender  octopus with smoked paprika . 904 Alta 2001, 809 Alta1998. Tondonia 1994, Alion 2007.

We were in a most relaxed state for England’s opener against the Italians .


Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de Cantabria mountain range is the stunning Bodega Ysios It  has to be seen to be believed .

A huge winery now owned by Pernod Ricard.  A stunning wavelike  roof made up of  horizontal aluminium columns, giving a mesmerising pixelated appearance .

Polished wood gently undulating surrounds the entire winery and enormous beams of Canadian pine for the roof .It was built for a much larger production. Temperature controlled cellars meant  no excavation was required, The tasting room jets out over the vineyards . No expense spared.











There was only one way to finish this beautiful journey .

Lunch on the terrace at Marques de  Riscal with  views over the wine growing area, the medieval village of Elciego and the mountains in the distance.

It took  four tonnes of titanium to create the multi-coloured convoluted roof .  Created by Frank O Gehry famous for the  Guggenheim in Bilbao.

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We highly recommend a trip to Rioja . The quality and value of the wines, the stunning architecture , the lovely landscape and views , the excellent food.

Six very satisfied Oenophiles in planning for our next WanderCurtis wine Journey.

If you would like any more information about Wine Travel in Rioja Please contact us .