Toro Visit - Easter 2004

In 2004, the society's visit took on a slightly different form. For the first time we travelled by air, and our trip was organised by Vina Bajoz in Toro.  Vina Bajoz are one of the largest cooperatives in the area, and we had been introduced to them through a tasting at Dulwich from their marketing manager, Nicola Thornton.  A number of members had been on a previous trip organised by Bajoz, and a society trip was organised by Nicola's colleague Meg Clubley.

After travelling by Ryanair to Valladolid, we were met by Nicola and Meg in the coach, and taken to Vallalodid itself for a tapas lunch.  We tried a number of Bajoz wines in the various tapas bars, and then, having been joined by a few members who had come by alternate routes, made our way to Toro. Toro is an attractive town, and at Easter becomes very busy with Easter processions and many visitors. We were split between three hotels, with couples in Hotel Juan II, single women in Hotel Maria de Molina, and the single men in Hostal Julian - a brisk 15 minute walk away near the police station! Once settled in we made our way to the Restaurante la Castilla for our welcome meal, accompanied by wines from Bajoz.

The following day, we were met the coach, and Meg led us to Ribera del Duero, where we visited the winery of Matarromera where we were given a tour of a vineyard, and the winery. We then visited Matarromera's Bodega Renacimiento, where a 16th century cellar is used to age their Rento wines. From here we went to their distillery where we were shown the stills used to make aguardiente and brandy.
Upstairs we found a bright light resturant where we were joined by the owner of Matarromera, Carlos Moro, for a tasting of their range of wines, and from their Chilean sister company, followed by an excellent lunch of fish and suckling pig.  We then travelled a short distance to the former Monastery of Valbuena, where Meg made a brave attempt to translate details of early monastic architecture. 
On our return we visited a number of tapas bars in Toro, and watched an Easter procession.

On Wednesday, we visitied Rueda, and had an interesting talk at the Consejo Regulador given by Mónica González on the regulations and development of Rueda wines, followed by a tasting with samples provided by made of the local wineries, this was followed by a visit to a local vineyard. 

We then travelled to Tordesillas, for what was billed as a light lunch, at the Hotel los Toreros.
With bulging stomachs we then travelled to Bodegas Valdelosfrailes in Cigales, part of the Matarromera group, where we were shown the vineyard and winery by the winemaker, and then led throgh a tasting of the wines.
We now drove to Bodegas Museum, a brand new winery built on a massive scale, the architecture of which could happily grace any city as a major museum. A tasting under the trees of the wines, was followed by a trip through the massive galleries of the muesum, filled with state of the art tanks, thousands of barrels and a huge bottling plant.  Arriving back in Toro, a quick turnaround saw us at Viuda Rica for Dinner.
Thursday morning gave us time to look around Toro, including the large Colegiata church. Just after noon we left to see the winery of our hosts Vina Bajoz. The expanding complex showed how much care is taken by Bajoz in their production, and ability to produce both good quality wine in large quantities, and also exceptional wines on a smaller scale in the same complex.   We then had a tasting of their range, including their Ovación whites, Riojas, and the Toro reds.  Across their car-park to the Chivio restaurant we had another excellent meal, including Roast Spring Lamb, which went very well with the Bajoz Joven and Gran Bajoz. We were happy to express our compliments to one of the local winegowers - part of the Bajoz cooperative.  Back in Toro, Nicola introduced us to one of her friends who has a cellar built in 1500.
After breakfast on Good Friday, we watched the Semana Santa procession in Toro, and then had a tapas lunch,  many of which went well with a rose from Bajoz. That evening we had a farewell dinner at the Alegria restaurant and then were lucky enough to be invited to the cellar of Madrid dentist, where we consumed a few more glasses!
Finally on the Saturday we were seen back to the coach for our flight back. Vina Bajoz, and in particular Meg and Nicola had organised an excellent programme, and ensured we had many meals where the wine flowed freely. Toro and the surrounding area are unspoilt by mass tourism, and there is very little english spoken, so it was interesting for us to see this up and coming area of Spain. All the wineries we visited were more than generous with their hospitality, and I would recommend any of the wine tours organised by Bajoz.

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