Haro, 1/3/12

We had wine tours scheduled at R. Lopez de Heredia and Muga for the 3rd, but also wanted to swing by La Rioja Alta and Cune which were basically on the same street. Haro is quite a wine town!

We got up bright and early (for me) for our 10am R. Lopez de Heredia tour. We were very pleasantly surprised to find that we were the only ones on the tour. It was super laid back and the woman leading the tour couldn’t have been nicer.

The winery was stunning and was the highlight of the trip for me. First she walked us through the large fermentation vats and explained how old-school the process is. For example, when the temperature inside gets too warm, they simply open the doors and let the breeze in.

Next, she took us down to the aging cellars.

It was hard to capture in pictures because it was so dark.

She took us into a bottle aging room that has some seriously old wines. They were covered in dust!

She also walked us through the room where they make the barrels. I had never considered how important the actual barrels are in wine making, so this was really interesting to hear about.

Finally, it was time for the tasting.

We sampled a 2001 Reserva as well a white from 2002.

As expected, we loved them.

After our tour, we stopped by La Rioja Alta. We didn’t have time for a tour, but we had a quick taste of a couple of wines.

Our Lopez de Heredia tour guide told us we just had to try lamb chops grilled over grapevine trimmings and patatas a la Riojana before we left the Rioja region, and suggested a restaurant called Jose Mari in a little town nearby for us to get both at lunch. We arrived around 1 but they didn’t open for lunch until 1:30. They were very nice to us though, and invited us to a glass of wine and some olives at the bar while we waited.

The food was delicious. Matt got the scrambled eggs with mushrooms, which were presented in a round of puff pastry.

My mom and I split a few things. The first was the patatas a la Riojana. It was a lot more soup like than I had imagined, and also a lot more delicious! There wasn’t a lot of chorizo in it, but it had chorizo flavor throughout.

Next, we had the piquillos rellenos, which were fried piquillo peppers stuffed with white fish and shrimp.

With the piquillos came our lamb. Yum.

After lunch, we went back to Haro and wandered for a bit. We walked into Cune just to see it, even though we knew we didn’t have time for a tour. We did pick up a half bottle of their 2000 reserva to try another time. It was so good that I wish we had bought more.

At 2:00, it was time for our Muga tour. The format was very similar to our earlier tour, but it was definitely not as private. Also, it was in Spanish. I understood some things and my mom did her best to translate, but I didn’t get as much out of it as the Lopez de Heredia tour.

But, I was happy to see it anyways!

After the official tasting, we headed to the Muga wine bar to sample the wines we didn’t get to try.

For our last night in Haro, we went to a little tapas bar to grab a bite.

Matt got the scrambled eggs with potatoes. He probably never wants to eat a scrambled egg again in his life after this trip!

My mom and I split a sandwich that had thinly sliced pork loin, roasted red peppers, and cheese. I am picky about sandwiches, and this was a good sandwich.

For dessert, we shared the arroz con leche.

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