Rioja

Photos of the Riojan harvest at Remelluri, País Vasco

Friday October 28th, 2011 04:01 PM

Vendimia riojana en Remelluri

One of the first rules of photography that I learned as a child was to shoot with the sun behind your back. But what do you do when the scene you want to capture is into the sun? Well, it’s time to break the rule.

It happened last week while out photographing the harvest at Bodega Remelluri on the border between La Rioja and the Basque Country. The vineyard sits beneath the sheer cliffs of the Sierra de Cantabria to the north. In every other direction there are spectacular views over the river Ebro valley, across a large chunk of La Rioja and to the distant mountains of Sierra de la Demanda.

And that scene was into the sun. I couldn’t wait for it to move as so too would have the pickers and with them the photo. So into the sun it is then. The trick is to decide the bit of the photo you want properly exposed and set the camera accordingly – in my case, that’s normally someone’s face. The background, being brighter, is at risk of burning out. However, so long as the bit that’s properly exposed holds the viewer’s attention and you can at least suggest the surroundings, the chances are the photo will work. Fingers crossed.

Vendimia riojana en Remelluri

Vendimia riojana en Remelluri

Vendimia riojana en Remelluri

Vendimia riojana en Remelluri

Vendimia riojana en Remelluri

Vendimia riojana en Remelluri

Vendimia riojana en Remelluri

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

Bodegas Sonsierra wine-tasting, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Monday February 14th, 2011 05:40 PM

Cata con Sonsierra, Echaurren, Ezcaray

A regular treat during the winter have been the monthly Buscón del Vino “catas” or wine tastings at the Echaurren hotel in Ezcaray.

At each meeting Chefe Paniego, the hotel’s sommelier, invites a Rioja wine maker to come and show off the creations of which they are proudest, or just about to release on the market, to an audience chiefly made up of local restaurant and bar owners.

Though I’ve nothing to do with the catering trade Chefe, in the spirit of glasnost, has been kind enough to invite me along. Bit by bit I’m learning the difference between viura and garnacha grapes, what separates American and French oak barrels and other facts indispensible for survival in La Rioja. Chefe particularly searches out the bodegas which are doing something interesting, like revitalising old varieties of grape or traditional methods.

Last week, Rafa Usoz , from the Sonsierra wine co-operative, brought along six wines. I particularly liked the fragrant 2010 white which is due to go on sale next month. As an aside, there does seem to be a bit of a white wine revival at the moment driven, apparently, by weight-watchers turning away from beer.

Intriguing too were the more complex reds which came in delightfully shaped bottles, one in a perfume jar and the other in a medicine bottle. I wasn’t sure whether I should be drinking the latter with a spoon.

Cata con Sonsierra, Echaurren, Ezcaray

Cata con Sonsierra, Echaurren, Ezcaray

Cata con Sonsierra, Echaurren, Ezcaray

Cata con Sonsierra, Echaurren, Ezcaray

Cata con Sonsierra, Echaurren, Ezcaray

Cata con Sonsierra, Echaurren, Ezcaray

Bar El Refugio photography, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Monday December 13th, 2010 07:38 PM

Bar El Refugio Ezcaray La Rioja

My sister-in-law, Allende, has just spent a fortune renovating her bar in Ezcaray. Technically known as Cervecería Refugio (where ‘cervecería’ translates, I guess, as well-stock pub), I’ve always thought it’s best known for its marvellous selection of sensational tapas and, perhaps too, the forceful character of its owner. She is, as they say, unique. The day before the builders moved in, I took some photos so she’d have a memory of the proverbial good-old times.

The renovation, eventful to say the least – they discovered a stream flowing under the floor-,  is now finished. If you think the place looks good in the photos, it’s even better now.

Bar El Refugio Ezcaray La Rioja

Bar El Refugio Ezcaray La Rioja

Bar El Refugio Ezcaray La Rioja

Bar El Refugio Ezcaray La Rioja

Bar El Refugio Ezcaray La Rioja

Michelin star renewed for Portal del Echaurren, Ezcaray

Monday November 29th, 2010 05:32 PM

Francis Paniego

Congrats to Francis Paniego, the head chef of the Portal del Echaurren restaurant, who has once again been awarded with a Michelin Star, one of the highest accolades in global gastronomy.

The Michelin Guide describes El Portal as:

“A regional leader in gastronomy, this restaurant serves creative cuisine that always uses seasonal produce.”

In 2004, Francis became the first chef in La Rioja to gain a Michelin star. His cooking draws people from across Spain and further afield to Ezcaray to discover the charms of the area. I’ve recently photographed some of Francis’s latest creations and, yes, they taste as good as they look.

This year, for the first time, Francis is joined in the guide by a second Riojano chef, Ignacio Echapresto, who runs the kitchen of Venta Montcalvillo, in Daroca de Rioja, a hamlet of 24 inhabitants near Logroño.

Portal del Echaurren

Portal del Echaurren

Portal del Echaurren

Portal del Echaurren