Spring weather is as fickle as ever this year but a trip to visit a Bodega (winery) in the Empordàis always a good option since the worst that can happen is that you get stuck in a cellar with plenty of wines to taste while you watch the rain come down in the vineyards.
If the sun shines this is a glorious time to wander around the countryside as everything is growing furiously and the shades of new green are startlingly vivid. After all this activity, or maybe in spite of it, a glass of cool white or rosado wine does wonders for looking at life in a more positive vein. Follow this with a selection of reds, some young and fruity and some with oak ageing and by the time it comes to taste the dessert wines things are positively wonderful.
Having activated the taste buds and got the saliva flowing the only possible follow up is a wonderful meal at a nearby restaurant with fresh fish and lamb with wild herbs dishes that seem to be particularily appreciated, washed down with a choice of wines, of course.
By now it is completely normal to feel a bit satisfied and even drowsy so either another walk is needed to explore some of the prehistoric burial sites which dot the area or it's time to have a doze in the back of the van for the ride back to Girona. Either way it's a day of pampering oneself with tastes, flavours and experiences that make visiting this part of Spain a fantastic experience.
Day tours to wineries in the Empordà inc all transport, tastings and lunch cost 125?/person, groups of 4-8 people.
Some would imagine a really enjoyable experience, others would savour every drop but the reality is that tasting so many wines is hard work for the palate, and you come out with teeth looking like you have been to dinner with Dracula.
True professionals spend more time with their nose pushed deep into the glass than quaffing the wine, and even then it is swirled around the mouth and spat out. Trying to capture what you have seen, smelled and tasted in words is possibly the hardest part and "I like this one" is not acceptable wine terminology.
When the wines you are tasting are all from the same region (Catalonia) and the same grape varieties are present in most of the wines it tends to emphasize the defects present very clearly and the 8 tasters were pretty unanimous on which were the worst wines. Worst in the sense of not technically correct, either through lack of balance, too much wood, lack of acidity or both which in Spanish wines seems to be a constant problem.
At the end of the 3 hour session a few wines emerged in both the under and over 15? division.
In the under 15? bracket:
2 wines from Cadaques (Empordà) which is more famous for artists than wines but these are both new wineries and interesting to taste- Pirata and Perafita; from the Montsant l'Alleu and l'Heravi; from Terra Alta Sola d'en Pol and Templari and Sirsell from the Priorat where most wines are more expensive.
In the above 15? category(some wines went up to 80?):
From the Empordà, Perelada wines were represented with both Finca Malaveina and Finca Garbet; from Montsant a Kosher wine Peraj Ha' abib; from the Priorat the Trio Infernal and Akiles
Undoubtably the most dissapointing showing were for some the expensive wines including Finca Dofi and Vall Llach which just goes to prove that tasting blind means your palate is not biased!
A very pleasant way to pass a few hours with friends is to find a perfect location such as San Bartomeu, a country house near Banyoles, and have Linda give a tasting of Spanish wines.
We started as the sun was going down but the weather was balmy and sitting outside around a big table with a glass in our hands and Linda explaining about the various regions, styles and grape varieties was a wonderful experience.
We tasted 6 wines in all starting with an Albariño white and moving on to 5 reds all from different regions. These included classic areas like Rioja and Ribera, up and coming Priorat and unknowns such as Jumilla and Empordà. Complemented with some local cheeses , bread and olive oil and there was little need for the BBQ programmed afterwards.
A day trip to visit some of the most interesting Bodegas/ wineries of the Empordà.
From pickup at your hotel/ accommodation we take you through some of the best scenery in Girona Province on our way to a small family run Bodega in a privileged position just inland from the coast where we walk around the vineyards before having a tour and tasting with the owners.
Lunch is at the charming fishing village of Port de la Selva before heading to a larger Bodega for a tour and tasting where there is a well stocked shop for anyone wanting to take back some memories of the trip.