Saturday, 25 May 2013

Ribera de Duero, land of good wine and good men

Of all my weaknesses, one I can confess is my weakness for Ribera de Duero wines. For years, it has had a special place in my table, shared with my most treasured friends. Therefore, so you can correctly assume that being here is not only a dream come true, but also one with implied expectations. 

I arrived to Aranda de Duero on Thursday and for the last two days, all I have been doing is driving around this extended land of vineyards and tasting its excellent wines and excellent food.

Unfulfilled expectations? Not at all! I can say without hesitation, that my expectations have not only been fulfilled, but crowned.

Today was a day I was awaiting with special enthusiasm, I had a visit scheduled at 12:00 to a winery, who's wines I have been a fan for years.

Half an hour before noon, I was parked outside Viña Pedrosa, the Pérez Pascuas brothers winery. I was so excited I even called my friend Carlos in Frankfurt to let him know I was going to visit the winery. As we say in Spanish: "al que madruga, Dios le ayuda" God helps early birds ;) Pilar, the nice lady who welcomed me, asked me if I wanted to join a visit that had just started, so that I did not have to wait. I was added to a 'friends visit' guided by one of the Pérez Pascuas brothers, Manuel. 

The winery is impressive, extremely modern, producing extremely traditional wines, putting special attention to preserve the lovely fruit characteristics of the Tempranillo grape and aged in new French and American 225 litres oak barrels, but what really made this visit exceptional, was the guide. 

Manuel, is a good, knowledgable, wine man, who patiently answered my questions and I am so thankful to him for so generously sharing his acquire-from-the-cradle know-how. Manuel could have never guessed how special this visit was for me, and he probably will never know, how even more special he made it for me. Thank you Manuel.  

A very touching detail was that Manuel was so enthusiastic about my career move, that he even gave me a business idea and in all honesty, a very good one to be seriously considered and defined. We agreed that one day I would visit again and we will have a picture taken for the house gallery of fame, where illustrous people such as the king of Spain, the Pope John Paul II, the US embassador, several prime ministers, ministers, movie stars, have a place, and I added (would not miss the chance in a million years) that we would drink a bottle of their Perez Pascuas wine, from his father oldest vines. The jewel of the winery. Thank you for believing in me. I will try my best to deserve a place in your gallery.

At the end of the visit, a wine tasting between old friends and a new friend (me) who was immediately treated as a good old friend. During the wine tasting, that was more likely wine drinking among friends, where football and weather were discussed and later, just because I was determined not to let my big chance to ask questions to the expert, vineyards, grapes, training, harvest, yields and wine. Just to learn that I was surrounded by two heavy weighs of the Spanish wine panorama. At a later state, Adolfo, the youngest of the Perez Pascuas brothers joined the group.

After the visit and the tasting I stayed for a good hour talking to Manuel and Adolfo. I loved their wines before, now I can appreciate them even more knowing that behind those super-quality wines are super-quality men, who love their land, take great pride on their work and give the best of themselves to their winemaking.

All my gratitude to the pater familia, Don Mauro, for cultivating good vines and good men. The two together, make wines of excellence.

I am so thrilled with this morning's experience, that I am not mentioning the rest, but Aranda de Duero and around Peñafiel, the land, the food, the people and the wine are a taste of country men who like the good table among friends. 

Two very interesting visits are the 'Museo Provincial del Vino' (Museum of Wine) located in the Peñafiel castle and the 'Museo de los Aromas' (the museum of the scents) an initiative of young dreamers who have put all their efforts and heart to have the only museum of the scents in Spain and a one of the few in the world. They are the kind of passionate entrepreneurs that deserve success. So, if you are ever in the area, the visit to the museum is a must. Even if you are as sceptic as I was seeing it from outside, I can assure you, you will not be deceived.

If you do not plan to visit the place in the near future, at least take a peek in their web site

After my last visit this afternoon and before leaving Ribera de Duero, someone left a bunch of beautiful red poppies in my windshield. See you soon Ribera de Duero, thank you for the wine, the food, the countrymen and the flowers.


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