The Wineries of Rioja
From our base in Elciego at the Marques de Riscal, a Gehry designed hotel adjacent to the historic winery, we drove around this part of Rioja exploring the modern wineries that have changed both winemaking and landscape. I'm not a super fan of the old style Rioja wines, I much prefer the modern wines (reserva and gran reserva) which are aged in French oak and devoid of that heavy Rioja earthiness that perhaps others love, but I don't. My favorite wines and wineries are below in no specific order.
Bodegas Baigorri: Designed by IÑAKI ASPIAZU IZA and shown above, this winery appears to be like the Glass House of winemaking. Not really, of course as the wine operation is cut into the hillside with expansive views not only available from the pavilion, but also from the dining room and levels inside the hill. It's a remarkable place (more photos below) and the food in the dining room was outstanding (and, with the incredibly reasonable price of lunch and tour, it's a sin not to do it). The wine is delicious. My favorite was their white, fresh and crisp, but I also enjoyed the Belus which is from the Mazuela grape and the Reserva (Tempranillo). All the wines were quite good - I brought home 3 bottles. A constant statement for me in all the wine I brought home is: I was sad to see the bottom of the bottle.
Roda: Roda was my favorite wine of all, and I've luckily found it here in the states on occasion - most recently at - Rioja in Denver (of course!). We did not tour the winery due to timing difficulties but instead went to the tasting room in Haro which was superb. I brought home 3 bottles of Roda - Roda I, Reserva 2013, and Cirision. All delicious. The small tasting room is nicely designed and the person helping us was just great.
Ysios: Architecturally, Ysios is probably the most famous of the wineries since its architect is Santiago Calatrava. It is beautifully designed and sits in its context just perfectly. The wines are delicious and modern. The tour was fun with a lively host guiding us through and reprimanding us from being too loud with our feet or voices: "the wine is ehsleeping." I brought back 3 bottles of this wine as well. One of them was exquisitely packaged and was a perfect gift for the holidays. Or, did I drink it? I may have gifted that to myself now that I think about it :)
We also visited Cune - very nice wines. More on that later.