With a few hours drive ahead of us, and a fair collection of aches and pains, we decided on a brief excursion into tourist territory, rather than snatching a token route. As our return journey took us back through La Rioja, it seemed almost rude not to nip into one of the numerous bodegas for a tasting.
With a bit of help from the Internet, we settled on Ysios, a new, tiny winery that has been established with a huge investment from Pernod Ricard. This has set the place up in a fabulous, purpose built winery designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. It is pretty breathtaking – mimicking the foothills of the Sierra Cantabrica behind.
I say tiny – they only produce two wines. A “cooking” version at €25 that they make 100,000 bottles a year of, and a posh €65 one that they only make about 6,000 of every 3 years – in individually numbered bottles. We got to taste number 2,029 of the 5,770 bottles of the 2012.
We spent about an hour touring the winery, hearing the myriad ways in which they lavish care on the wine in an attempt to justify the price tag. This is pretty pampered plonk! Even the barrels (a mix of French, American and Hungarian oak ….I could go on. ..) are €400 works of art. We then spent another half hour swilling, eyeballing, and sniffing, before finally getting to taste the stuff!
I learnt (at least) three things…
1.Not all Rioja wine is made in La Rioja (the district), indeed about a third is in Navarra and a third in the Basque country (including Ysios)
2. There’s quite a lot involved in making the stuff, including a lot of waiting around in barrels and bottles.
3. It’s largely wasted on me – don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed both the “cheap” stuff and the posh stuff, but no more than a €5 Rioja from Lidl and not a lot more than the stuff they pour into a cracked jug and bundle in for free with a €10 menu del dia. Give me a hoppy IPA any day!
…But what a stunning building – I suspect there aren’t many micro-breweries that can boast a shed this fancy!