We’ve successfully made it to Rioja without a scratch. Having left around midday on Sunday, we meandored through the vast open landscapes of western Cataluña, Aragon and Navarra, finally arriving to the 120 million year old dinosaur tracks emerging from the muddy soils just outside of Arnedo in Rioja Baja around 5:30pm. Mind you, it took us three tries until we finally found the tracks, because every time we saw signpost with a large green dinosaur on it, we logically assumed we had reached the endpoint of our journey, but no. Like many of our experiences in Spain, one can’t expect signs that forewarn or share extensive detail. What you will find, however, are many signs that allude to what you want, but won’t give your end destination until the very last moment when you find yourself swerving off the road to a screeching halt. Yet, I have to admit, despite the Disney like display of the 40 foot high Brontosaurus or Brachiosaurus dinosaurs sitting fiercely in the Igea track site, the tracks themselves were absolutely incredible. Albeit a little smaller than I imagined, they were very well worth our efforts and a journey I would highly suggest for you as well.
Finally, pulling into Logroño around 8:00pm, we parked our car in the very back corner of the basement of the Hotel Murrieta behind a cement pillar and next to a SUV. This, my friends, was truly an act of patience and persistence, because if you turned your car slightly in any one direction, you were at risk of plowing into a large, very damaging, object. Our advice, in addition to getting fantastic gas mileage and saving the environment, a tiny little Opal will give you much more leeway in European carparks than a large Chrysler will ever provide you! Suggestion: always get the wee little car! You’ll thank us in the long run!
Starving from chasing dinosaurs and playing tetris in the carpark, we dumped our bags in our room and immediately hit the streets to try Logroño’s famous Tapas! Oooh and how fabulous they are! We hit four bars, drank four different Rioja wines, and tried eight different tapas, one of which was a sauteed mushroom dish drizzled with oil, stacked vertically on a piece of baguette and squewered in place by a long toothpick. Called La Cueva (The Cave), this little bar in the pedestrian backstreets of Logroño is a must visit!
Come Monday, we immediately headed off towards Bodegas Tobia in San Asensio surrounded by fog so thick that we barely could see a few vines off the side of the road, which is impossible to imagine once you see the miles upon miles of small perfect little vines lining the valley. Although difficult to maneauver if you’re unfamiliar with the terrain, we eventually found our wy to a tiny little bodega situated behind a restaurant and next to a gas station. Bodegas Tobia is no bigger than a small two story house, producing less than half a million bottles a year. This is the true definition of a garage winery, creating an unbelievable rosado, and an experience we’ll expand more on in our newletter at the end of the month.
Look at the time! I’d tell you about our incredible four and half hour tour at Lopez de Heredia, but we’re off the Bodegas Muga, followed by Dinastia Vivancó; however, I promise to give you my full report in the Newsletter!
Stay tuned for more updates, and if you haven’t signed up for the Catavino Newsletter, make sure to do so!