Tapas and Vino
Indulge your senses in the piquant flavours of regional Spanish cuisine at a selection of Spain’s most innovative Michelin-starred restaurants and visit some of the country’s leading wineries and estates.
Begin in Catalonia’s vibrant capital of Barcelona before travelling down the Mediterranean coast to Penedès, the ‘cradle of Cava’, with its diversity of grapes that flourish in unique microclimates. Continue to mountainous and rugged Priorat, a region renowned for its brawny, tannic reds.
Then journey north to the grand estates of La Rioja before delighting in a glass of slightly sparkling, crisp Txakoli in the Basque Country as the sun sets over the Atlantic in San Sebastián, famous for its world-class gastronomy.
In Madrid, spend the evenings sipping fine Spanish wines before dining in the city’s famed tapas bars.
Note: Many wineries are reluctant to commit to visits more than 2-3 months prior due to the exigencies of harvest and production. Therefore, while we undertake to operate the tour as published, there may be some changes to the itinerary.
Depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested overnight Qatar Airways flights to Barcelona via Doha. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements.
Arrive in Barcelona and check in to the hotel.
Nestled on the coast between the Sierra de Collserola mountain range and the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is a city abounding in cultural delights. Its unique history and geography mean that Barcelona’s cuisine features a dynamic combination of traditional and contemporary influences, which lead to an unparalleled gastronomic experience.
In the evening, join Peter and fellow oenophiles for a welcome briefing followed by a special welcome dinner.
Begin the day a visit to the mountain foothills surrounding the city and wander through Antoni Gaudí’s fantastical Park Güell, a public park system composed of lush natural gardens interspersed with architecture that borders on the make believe. Return to the city and marvel at the majesty of the iconic Sagrada Familia before taking a walking tour of the bustling Barrio Gótico (Gothic Quarter), ending at a local market.
Enjoy dinner at one of Barcelona’s excellent restaurants.
Today, travel along the Mediterranean coast before turning inland to visit Penedès, one of the most innovative and exciting wine regions in Spain. The geographical spread of Penedès stretches westward and inland from the Mediterranean, over the rolling hills of the Catalan coastal depression and up into the mountain foothills, splitting the vineyards up into three distinct sub-regions based on the variance of altitudes. This topographical diversity has created a series of microclimates and allowed an assortment of predominately white grape varieties to flourish. The region’s speciality is cava – a distinctly Catalan sparkling white made primarily of indigenous grape varieties such as Xarel-lo and Macabeo.
The highlight of today’s journey through the magnificent cellars of Penedès is a visit to Pacs del Penedès, owned by the world-renowned Torres family. The fifth generation of this historic family continues to approach the illustrious terroir with a blend of innovation and tradition, producing an outstanding variety of wines.
Spend a day exploring the wineries of Priorat, one of only two regions including Penedès in Spain to qualify as Denominació d’Origen Qualificada (DO) – the highest category in Spanish wine regulations. Although winemaking in the region was begun by Carthusian monks in the early 12th century, the region’s turbulent history meant that Priorat only gained international renown for its vineyards in the 1990s. The area is characterised by its peculiar soil; known locally as llicorella, the earth is composed of a coppery brown, iron-rich combination of slate and quartz, which creates unique terroir and imparts a stony character to the wine’s texture. The appellation is largely devoted to red varieties, specialising particularly in Garnacha tinta, a traditional grape that favours the hot, dry climate of the region.
Return to Barcelona in the early evening.
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and travel by high-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid, the gastronomic heart of Spain.
Centuries of cultural exchange with the surrounding region has influenced Madrid’s cuisine. Traditional recipes from Galicia, the Basque country, Andalusia and Catalonia have long penetrated the heart of Madrid’s culinary scene, while innovative young chefs are establishing an international reputation for madrileño cuisine in the city’s 21 Michelin-starred restaurants. Despite its distance from the ocean, Madrid is famous for its seafood and is home to Mercamadrid, the second largest fish market in the world.
Spend the afternoon on a walking tour of Madrid, focusing particularly on the city’s rich history, vibrant modern culture and glorious gastronomy.
Travel to Vinos de Madrid, a region which attained its DO status in 1990, and has worked tirelessly to raise the quality and profile of its produce since then. In recent years, Vinos de Madrid has made a leap from anonymity to establishing a growing presence in the local and international market. The region is subdivided into three zones – Arganda, Navalcarnero, and San Martín – and features primarily red Grenache, Tempranillo, Albillo Real and Malvar grape varieties.
Enjoy tastings at two wineries in this rapidly emerging region, as well as lunch at a local restaurant before returning to Madrid in the late afternoon.
This morning leave Madrid and journey to Vega Sicilia on the banks of the River Duero, Spain’s most prestigious estate. Since 1983, Vega Sicilia has been owned by the Álvarez family, who have based their operation on two core values: patience and dedication. Vega Sicilia is widely regarded as Spain’s first growth, and its star wine, Unico, remains the only Spanish wine in the Liv-ex Fine Wine 1000 index. This estate is the heart of the Ribera del Duero region, and was key to securing DO status in 1983.
Then continue to Dominio de Pingus. Influenced by the wines of Bordeaux, this winery produced Spain’s first garagiste wine, which rose to cult success in the mid-1990s under the direction of enterprising Dane, Peter Sisseck. The vines in Sisseck’s plots are very old, have never been fertilised or treated with pesticides and are all cultivated following the traditional en vaso system. Since their initial spectacular vintages burst onto the scene, the wines from this unique establishment have evolved to become more distinguished and subtle.
In the evening, arrive in Burgos and spend the remainder of the evening at leisure.
Enjoy the morning at leisure before continuing to explore Spain’s prestigious Ribera del Duero region with visits to wineries surrounding Burgos. This sprawling landscape is characterised by semi-arid terrain, ample amounts of sunlight and wildly oscillating temperatures from day to night – all of which combine to produce a unique terroir and instil a singularly bold quality in the signature Tempranillo grapes. Known locally as “Tinto Fino”, the Ribera del Duero Tempranillo represents 95% of produce grown there and is considered the purest expression of Spain’s most well-known grape.
Transfer by coach from winery to winery and wonder at the magnificent scenery of the Spanish countryside as you traverse the Duero Valley, before returning to the hotel and enjoying dinner at a restaurant that exemplifies cuisine of Spain’s high plateau.
Today, experience the grand estates of La Rioja DOCa, renowned worldwide not just for their outstanding wine, but for their architecture, which would not be out of place in any modern city.
First visit Ysios, the ‘temple dedicated to wine’, and marvel at the striking beauty of the undulating polished-aluminium roof and copper-stained cedar exterior, which are in perfect harmony with the mountainous backdrop of this dramatic estate. Stop for a tasting at this avant-garde establishment before continuing to Marqués de Riscal, the region’s oldest winery. Wonder in awe at the futuristic aesthetic of the City of Wine. Designed by Frank Gehry, this palace of rippling, multi-coloured titanium is the crowning jewel of the landscape. This fantastical exterior is a perfect complement to the treasures hidden in the cellar, where bottles from every vintage since Marqués de Riscal’s establishment in 1862 are stored.
Then travel to the charming medieval fort town of Logroño and explore the bustling tapas streets of Calle Laurel, where mushrooms and Morritos are regional specialities.
Today, savour the joys of the famed wines of La Rioja known for those made with Tempranillo grapes that grow well in the region’s dry climate. Nestled in the folds of the Ebro River Valley and its surrounding tributaries, La Rioja is the oldest DO region in Spain, and the first to receive DOCa status in 1991. The wines from this area are renowned for their extraordinary ageing potential, and the years spent in meticulously crafted oak-wood barrels allow the flavours drawn from this unique terroir to evolve in complexity and originality over time.
Enjoy a tasting at Bodegas Roda, a young establishment famous for their single-vintage wines, before continuing to the Palace of Ábalos at Bodegas de la Real Divisa. Established in 1367, the wineries on this estate are the oldest in La Rioja. Once owned by Don GarcÍa Ramírez, King of Navarre and grandson of the revolutionary knight El Cid, attend a guided tour of the vineyards and cellars by a member of the aristocratic family here. After an exclusive wine tasting, enjoy lunch in the private palace and a lecture on the Marqués’ family history – a story which is inexorably intertwined with the history of wine in the region.
Enjoy the early morning at leisure in Logroño. Then transfer by coach to San Sebastián, stopping en route to visit the J. Chivite Family Estates in DO Navarre. Founded in 1647, the winery has been continuously operated and expanded by 11 generations of the Chivite family, and is today one of the most important cellars in the international export of Spanish wines.
Arrive in San Sebastián in the early afternoon and spend the rest of the day exploring this charming coastal city at your own pace. Despite its turbulent history, which included the total razing of the city in the years after the Napoleonic Peninsular War, San Sebastián is an idyllic seaside resort with an architectural flavour developed during the Belle Époque period. Elegant Art Nouveau buildings grace stunning Atlantic beachfronts and create a sense that the ‘beautiful era’ lives on here.
Delve into the cultural heart of San Sebastián, with a morning walking tour focusing on the food and culinary heritage of the Basque Country. San Sebastián is a gastronome’s dream; with more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else in the world, the city specialises in pintxos – culinary bites which range from simple bread and topping combinations to miniature haute cuisine creations.
Enjoy a guided tour of San Telmo Museoa, an architectural marvel of evolving styles, which is built around the modified skeleton of a 16th century Dominican cloister. Spend the afternoon at leisure to pursue your own personal interests. Perhaps wander through the Old Town, or take a trip to Bilbao and visit the Guggenheim – one of Europe’s finest modern art museums.
This morning, travel by coach to Getaria, for a visit to Txomin Etxaniz. Spend the morning sampling Getaria’s famous Txakoli wines a variety of slightly sparkling, dry whites and rosés made of Hondarribi grapes. Virtually unknown outside of the Basque region, Txakoli is most often served with the legendary seafood brought in fresh from the Atlantic and poured in a glittering arc from a bottle held at shoulder-height. Depart the winery for Getaria town centre and enjoy lunch at leisure in one of the village’s bountiful pintxo bars.
In the evening, attend a special farewell dinner with Peter and fellow travellers at one of San Sebastián’s exceptional Michelin-starred restaurants.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
Check out of the hotel and depart for Bilboa in the afternoon for flights to Madrid before connecting with suggested international flights with Qatar Airways via Doha in the afternoon.
Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any additional nights’ accommodation, either before or after the tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due14 February 2020
14 February 2020
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit Spain.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally-located 4-star and 4-star superior hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Fine restaurant dining and other meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including specially selected wines with meals
- Visits to specially selected vineyards and wineries for talks and tastings
- Transportation throughout in comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Business class train fare from Barcelona to Madrid
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International flights (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Hotel/airport transfers on tour arrival and departure
- Airport porterage
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, room service, etc.
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Barcelona – H10 Casa Mimosa ****
Madrid –Meliá Palacio de los Duques ****
Burgos – NH Collection Palacio de Burgos Hotel ****
Logroño – Eurostars Fuerte Ruavieja ****
San Sebastián –Lasala Plaza Hotel****
N.B. Hotels and restaurants of a similar standard may be substituted.