March 2011

Photographing the sport of pelota, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Tuesday March 22nd, 2011 04:23 PM

Pelota Ezcaray La Rioja

For some time now I’ve been meaning to find out about pelota, a sport which essentially combines squash and fives and is to all extent and purposes the national game of La Rioja, Navarra and the Basque Country. Driving round northern Spain I’ve regularly been taken aback by these enormous courts, which dominate small villages and dwarf the local church.

So I was delighted when the Diario La Rioja asked me to photograph an important game in Ezcaray last Friday. The doubles game, a semi-final in the professional league, was noteworthy as three of the four players come from Ezcaray itself.

Due to it being live on TV, it didn’t start until 10.15pm. My deadline for the paper was 11.30pm meaning I had just over an hour to take the photos, sort them, process them and email them in. It was like working the night shift at the Guardian once again where time seems to speed up as deadline approaches. Do the basics well and remember to keep breathing. That was what used to get me through.

So, needless to say, I didn’t have time to savour the game nor even work out the scoring. I had to leave before the end with the tension in the stadium rising and just when I was beginning to get into the groove. But I saw enough to get the bug and I’ll definitely be back.

Pelota Ezcaray La Rioja

Pelota Ezcaray La Rioja

Pelota Ezcaray La Rioja

Pelota Ezcaray La Rioja

The latest wines from family vineyards, Logroño, La Rioja

Saturday March 5th, 2011 06:23 PM

vinos de la rioja logroño spain

Logroño’s meat and veg market, el Mercado de Abastos, was full to the rafters on Thursday night but, generally speaking, it wasn’t the usual fare on people’s shopping list. Though a few customers were doing the daily shop, most had come to sample new wines from last year’s harvest which are just going on sale.

More than 20 family wineries from La Rioja were taking part in the XIV Cata Presentación, organised by Bodegas Familiares de Rioja, on the building’s top floor. Once you’d forgotten the background smell of raw meat, sampling the delights from table to table was a wonderful experience.

I was taken aback by the sheer number of young people there. One did admit that the offer of as much wine as you could drink after paying the €5 entrance fee was a key attraction. Others brought along bread and chorizo in plastic bags and dined out as well.

In a country where wineries are in constant battle with the breweries, some bodegas are targeting younger drinkers as a potential growth area and pushing their younger and less-expensive wines accordingly. They’d have been happy with last night’s crowd.

vinos de la rioja logroño spain

vinos de la rioja logroño spain

vinos de la rioja logroño spain

vinos de la rioja logroño spain

vinos de la rioja logroño spain

vinos de la rioja logroño spain