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For a wine lover, a wine tour of Spain & Portugal  is an easy way to experience the best wine regions of both countries. For us, the ideal Iberian wine route starts in Barcelona and ends in Porto or Lisbon. The cava cellars of Penedes and mythical reds of the Priorat wine region are highly accessible from Barcelona. Then from Priorat head to the source of Spanish red wine, the famous la Rioja. Just 3 hours away is the most exclusive wine region of Spain, Ribera del Duero, where the Tempranillo grape is king. From here, one crosses the border from Spain into Portugal, and enjoys the scenic beauty of the Douro Valley,  the most iconic wine region of Portugal. If you end your Spain & Portugal wine tour in Porto a visit to one of the many historic lodges along the Douro river with Port tastings is a must! Continuing to Lisbon, the undiscovered Vinho Verde and authentic rural Alentejo wine regions are mandatory stops.

For those wishing to experience the best of Spanish and Portuguese wine regions, we have carefully crafted our Wine Lovers Tour of Spain & Portugal. This 10 day wine tour covers the best regions of Spain & Portugal, the most interesting wineries and the most beautiful scenery.

Vinyes del celler Clos Figures, DOQ Priorat, darrera, el poble del Lloar, Gratallops, Priorat, Tarragona

Fly to Barcelona and start your wine trip in the Penedes Wine Region of Spain, famed as Cava country. Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine produced in the Traditional Method, just like Champagne. This Spanish bubbly was awarded it’s own D.O. (Wine Appellation) in 1986 and, although there are a few Spanish wine regions that produce Cava, the wine region of Penedes is the main area of production, over 90%. The Penedes wine region flagship grape variety is Xarel.lo making it the Penedes cava icon. Your visit to Penedes should include at least one of the spectacular modernist cava cellars as well as one of the emerging high- quality organic producers.

Your wine lovers tour continues to the Priorat Wine Region of Spain, where exceptional quality, red wines await you. These limited production reds are labelled DOC (Qualified Appellation of Origin) a denomination reserved to only Priorat and la Rioja. The Priorat wine region is famous for its mineral-rich soil and terraced hillsides of slate (called licorella by the locals), which create a unique humidity for the vines. Priorat wines blend the wine varietals of Garnacha and Cariñena and are substantial, inky wines of distinct character and reputation.

A not-to-be-missed stop is the Rioja Wine Region of Spain. Here we love to showcase the contrasts between historic and traditional wineries, some of them still making their own barrels and the sleek, modern cellars with amazing state-of -the-art wine-making techniques.  In the Rioja wine region there is a heavy use of oak for long ageing, which is the signature Rioja style, resulting in polished reds based mainly on Tempranillo but also Graciano and Garnacha blends. Bodegas Roda nave fermantación

Continuing west, you arrive to the Ribera del Duero Wine Region of Spain. Here you will taste the more modern, full-bodied and slightly more sophisticated single-vineyard wines at two of our favourite cellars. Part of Ribera del Duero wines’ uniqueness is due to Tinto Fino, the indigenous type of Tempranillo grape. The most mythical and inaccessible Spanish wineries are here, along the legendary Ribera del Duero Golden Mile and you will be lucky to visit one.

Crossing the border now you arrive to the beautiful Douro Valley wine region in Portugal, considered one the most spectacular wine regions of the world! Its characteristic terraced vineyards on the sloping hills meet the meandering river below. The in-vogue again Port wine is made here at various quintas (port wine cellars) along a narrow river gorge that winds 100 miles through the mountain ranges. Historically, Port wine was shipped downriver to the city of Porto for ageing, aboard sail-boats called Rabelos. Nowadays, the Douro Valley wine region of Portugal produces not only Port wines but also excellent reds mainly using the Touriga Nacional grape.

Douro Valley

 

Following the route of Port wine, as the grape juice once did from the Douro, you arrive to Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, famous for the Port Wine Lodges of historic port wine producers. Port houses have aged their wines in Vila Nova de Gaia for over three centuries and here, the ageing and blending of most of the world’s supply of Port wine takes place beneath a sea of red roofs emblazoned with some of the most famous names in wine-making.

If your Spain & Portugal wine tour is 10 days only, Porto is the perfect finale for this unique wine trip!  Take advantage of our expertise and let us take you to the very best wine regions and wineries of Spain and Portugal. We will ensure for you the best winery visits and wine tastings with expert in-house guides,  hand selected hotels and you will e able to make the most of your wine tastings as your chauffeur takes the driving strain!

You may like to include other wine regions of Spain and Portugal in your private wine tour, for example the up and coming Vinho Verde in northern Portugal and the rural, quaint and very authentic Alentejo wine region, half way between Andalucia and Lisbon. Just let us know and we can happily custom build your perfect wine tour based on your preferences. If you are looking for an ideal for the best route, have a look at our sample itinerary  Wine Lovers Tour of Spain & Portugal . Contact us for pricing or to start custom building your perfect wine tour of Spain and Portugal!

The leading French wine region of Bordeaux is THE place for the wine lover and home to some of the most sought-after and expensive wines in the world!! With more appellations than any other wine region in the world, incredible wineries, impressive wine chateaux and more than 7000 wine producers and 13,000 wine growers,  you cannot be bored in Bordeaux :-)

 

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Bordeaux’s reputation as a great wine region rests on its most superb reds, legendary and long-lived wines made by historic wine estates (chateaux), which can improve for several decades. About 75 to 80 percent of Bordeaux’s wines are red, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which give vigor, tannin and excellent cellaring qualities, and Merlot which brings a softness and suppleness. White wines are produced mostly from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and sometimes also Muscatel.

Bordeaux spreads 60 miles around the city, of the same name, on the biggest estuary in Europe along 3 rivers: Gironde, Garonne and Dordogne, creating the appropriate setting for wine production.

Bordeaux has 60 separate, distinct, unique appellations but the most famous and important appellations, from North to South, are the Medoc, also known as the Left Bank, Pessac Leognan and the most prestigious regions of the Right Bank: St. Emilion and Pomerol and Sauternes and Barsac.

The Medoc or the Left Bank

The Medoc is perhaps the most famous Bordeaux appellation and here you will find the famous appellations of Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Margaux, Haut Medoc, Listrac, and Moulis.

This is the region of the legendary Grand Cru Classé 1855 and Cru Bourgeois and is home to the famous First Growth estates and big chateaux that make breathtaking wines, with prices to match. Smaller, more modest, chateaux can also be enjoyed as they  can also make some of the world’s most compelling wines.

The beautiful chateaux route or “Route des Châteaux” will find you passing more magnificent châteaux, famous wineries and vineyards than any other wine route and include such estates: Lafite, Mouton Rothschild, Margaux, Pichon-Longueville and Cos d’Estournel.

The Cabernet Sauvignon grape rules here on the gravely soil and ripens to perfection and is blended mostly with Merlot to provide a structured, aromatic and harmonious wine.

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Pessac-Léognan

Pessac Leognan, before 1987, was originally known as Graves, due to the gravely soil on which the vines grow.

Branded as the “cradle of Bordeaux-wines” some of the chateaux date back to the middle Ages and very particular to this appellation is that some chateaux and their vineyards are situated in the suburbs of the city of Bordeaux!

Pessac Leognan produces some of the most elegant, refined, perfumed and age worthy wines in all of Bordeaux. And not only sublime red, Bordeaux wine, but the appellation is also known for producing the best dry white wine, primarily from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, in the entire Bordeaux region.

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Pomerol and St. Emilion

Saint Emilion and Pomerol are the most important Bordeaux appellation’s of the Right Bank, home of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

The chateaux may not be as big and grand as the top chateau of the Medoc but the wines are equally stunning – often called opulent, rich and decadent – and can be even more expensive.

Pomerol is a small appellation with big wines.  The wines are sometimes made of 100% merlot thanks to the special clay soil of Pomerol with iron layers and accompanying microclimate.

Saint-Emilion is as well-known for its medieval village as for its wine. The Grand Cru Classé chateaux from Saint-Emilion as well as the lesser known chateaux are notably smaller than in the Médoc but they still make delicious wine with great finesse.

Saint Emilion actually consists of two appellations, St. Emilion Grand Cru and St. Emilion and also situated nearby are the appelations of Puisseguin St. Emilion, Lussac St. Emilion, Montagne St. Emilion and St. Georges St. Emilion – known as the St. Emilion Satellite Appelations.

Saint-Emilion is also an exceptionally attractive small town with the history of the town dating back almost 2000 years when the Romans planted vineyards here as early as the 2nd century AD. However, Saint-Émilion itself dates from the 8th century when a Breton Monk called Emilion came to settle here in a hermitage carved into the rock. The cave where he lived from 750 – 767 AD subsequently became a pilgrim destination.

To really appreciate Saint-Emilion you need to descend underground to see the catacombs which were used for Christian burials from the 8th to the 10th century; a ‘monolithic’ church that was carved out of the rock in the 9th century and the ‘grotte de l’Ermitage’ in which Saint-Emilion spent the last 17 years of his life.

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Sauternes and Barsac

In the Sauternes region of Bordeaux, there are five villages, of which Barsac is the only one that is allowed to use the village name to identify the famous sweet wines of the region, produced from rotten grapes.

Known around the world for producing some of the best sweet, white wines from any wine region,  in general, Sauternes tends to be a little fuller than Barsac, which has higher acidity.

It is difficult to make good Sauternes and Barsac, as the noble rot of the grapes is essential, so as not to ruin the grape but dry it out, for which the special microclimate with fog in the morning and sunshine in the afternoon.

Other Bordeaux appellations also produce sweet wine but not to the level of the Sauternes appellation – the dominant producer, with close to 50% of all the sweet wine made in Bordeaux.

 

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Join us on a wonderful private wine tour to include Bordeaux such as our sample Essentially Wine – Spain & France Tour and you too could raise your glass with a “santé” and sip fine wine along the left bank of the Gironde !

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Spain, Portugal and SW France are three great Wine Producing Countries and home to some of the most famous names in the wine-making world. Big, complex wines with character, style and quality are just waiting to be tasted in Bordeaux, La Rioja, Priorat, Penedes, Ribera del Duero, Alentejo, Douro Valley

… and you can visit some (or all) of these fantastic wine regions of Spain, Portugal and SW France on a Private Luxury Wine Tour like our Wine Lovers Tour of Portugal, Spain & France

Spain, Portugal and SW France are just the ticket to visit top wine estates and meet vineyard owners and in-house experts who lovingly show you into their world – a big world at that!

Spain has many Wine Appellations known as “DO’s”, Denominaciones de Origen, but just two of them have been distinguished as “qualified”, meaning that their quality standards are a bit higher than the rest: DOC (Denominación de Origen Calificada) Rioja and DOQ (Denominació d’Origen Qualificada) Priorat. Aging is a very important aspect of Spanish wines so Spain has an aging classification system as well, meaning you will find Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva on the label too.

Portugal is divided into 14 Regional Wine areas: Vinho Verde, Trás-os-Montes, Porto and Douro, Távora-Varosa, Bairrada, Dão, Beira Interior, Lisboa, Tejo, Península de Setúbal, Alentejo, Algarve, Açores and Madeira. Portuguese wine is categorized using the ‘DOC’ (Denominação de Origem Controlada) system meaning Controlled Denomination of Origin. In the Douro there are separate DOCs for unfortified wine and for Port, although geographically they both lie within the same boundaries.

In France the appellation d’origine contrôlée “AOC” meaning “controlled designation of origin” sets the rules and today there are hundreds of AOC’s. In France there is a further classification system, existing mostly for Burgundy and Bordeaux, in which the quality of their AOC wines is further rated. In Bordeaux this is the Cru, also referred to as ‘growths’ of which there are five levels, attached to particular chateaux.

So you see there’s a lot going on behind that bottle of wine on your table, standards to adhere to and rules to follow.

Discover some of the best wine regions in Spain, Portugal and/or France on a Private Wine tour designed just for you – the wine enthusiast – and sip fine wine in the Mediterranean breeze, along the left bank of the Gironde or visit the vineyards and cellars of century’s old family owned wineries!

From Crasto Winery Barrels

Cheers to Missouri Wines for this great explanation for Understanding and Identifying Wine Aromas:

Put your new found wine knowledge to the test on one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours in Spain and/or Portugal. Visit top class wineries in great Spanish and Portuguese Wine Regions such as La Rioja, Priorat, Penedes or Emporda in Spain and Douro Valley or Alentejo in Portugal.

Not only is the Empordà region of Spain a beautiful and fascinating place to visit with Medieval Girona, Besalú, Pals and Peratallada, not to mention gorgeous picture-postcard seaside villages, but it also offers some unique and very exciting young wineries.  Led by wine specialists and oenologists, who prefer to grow their grapes on an ecological  basis, some fine wines are now being created from Empordà vineyards and they are well worth a visit.

Emporda Spanish Wine

One such Empordà winery is Terra Remota lying under the mountains, close to the border of France.  Nothing less than “great wine” is the goal of this winery owner and his team.  Lying long and low on a plateau embellished with hillocks in the shadow of the Pyrenees,  is the raw concrete “bodega” designed by Spanish architects Pépe Cortés & Nacho Ferrer.  It is recently built, but in time will surely hide itself entirely in its natural surroundings. This ecologically run vineyard and their fine wines have gained a fabulous reputation, having resided on the Wine Lists of more than one Michelin 3 starred restaurant!

You can really enjoy something very special after a visit to this Empordà winery;  take a lazy short walk through the vineyards to the picnic area, where you can put your feet up and lounge in the shade of the tall trees on the sun beds provided. Having selected the wine of your choice beforehand, everything will be delivered to you at the picnic area – local cheese, ham, pate, tomato, grapes and bread, a feast for two. With the sun filtering through the tree tops, take time out to breathe in the fresh mountain air as you sip your delicious coffee at the end of a truly relaxed picnic.

Mas Estela – Not only do they produce high rated wines, but the location of this Empordà winery is sublime. It is tucked into a valley within the Cap de Creus natural park and is only 3 kms from the Mediterranean sea, with it’s moderating influence, and near to the charming village of Selva de Mar.

The family came here in 1988 and bought a large ruin with some 50 hectares of valley and scrub land with steep slopes on either side. Having rebuilt their house, they planted the terraces with varieties such as syrah, monastrell and garnatxa gris to complement the garnatxa, cariñena and muscat which already existed.

This organic Empordà vineyard  also applies bio-dynamic principles by looking at the cycles of the moon to interact with the soil, to know when to work on the vines or add natural fertilizer. This means that the environment is not polluted by any type of chemical and as such the whole variety and diversity of organic, insect and wildlife is preserved and encouraged creating a truly healthy environment.

Mas Oller – Carlos Esteva is a pioneer in creating quality wines in Spain.  He started making wines in the Penedès Wine Region at Can Ràfols dels Caus Estate, near Barcelona.  In the seventies he was the first to introduce the Merlot grape variety to Spain and his GRAN CAUS Tinto 1984, a wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot aged in French oak barrels, was a completely new concept in Spain. Also, his white wines are unique.

Mas Oller

With the Mas Oller project, Carlos decided to rescue the Empordà family estate from oblivion and asked his old friend, Peter Schoonbrood, a Dutch expat, to set up the concept for the new winery and the wines.  In the year 2000 he decided to plant vines to produce new, prestigious, high-quality wines.  Some wine was made from the young vines in the earlier vintages and was sold locally.  Now, the Empordà vines have reached the right age for achieving the desired concentration of fruit.  The first wines were launched in April 2009 and the response since then has been extremely positive.

* La VinyetaA small Empordà vineyard and olive farm situated at the heart of the beautiful Emporda wine D.O region. It is a young, dynamic, family company, run by the enthusiastic oenologist Josep Serra and his wife that is the fruit of much effort and ambition. In 2002 they purchased two excellent old Carignan and Grenache vineyards, aged between 50 and 75 years. From that moment on, more and more vines were planted, up to the present 30 hectares.

La Vinyeta

The project was consolidated in 2006 with the construction of the winery and the making of the first wines. In 2009, La Vinyeta became one of the first wineries to adopt Integrated Production, an environment-friendly cultivation system. This is the context in which the wines of La Vinyeta are born.

Their signature wines (Heus, Llavors and Punt i Apart) are structured as if they were part of a unique story.

  • “Once upon a time” for the Heus label, the freshest and youngest of their wines; which is produced in red, white and rosé varieties.
  • “Then” for  Llavors, which suggests evolution after spending six months in oak casks.
  • The story is completed with the distinct Punt i Apart  “new paragraph”; La Vinyeta’s flagship wine, and our definite favorite, which stays 13 months in oak casks.

 

Besides their great tasting Empordà wines, another aspect that sets La Vinyeta apart from other wineries is their superb design. The work of Lluís Serra, Josep’s brother, has been recognized for its originality in their packaging, logo design and the naming of their products. Every detail of their concept is well thought out and has a reason for being there, from start to finish, as the story goes.

 

Enjoy visits to some of these, and other, wineries in the Empordà region of Spain on one of our  Private Wine Tours custom designed just for you