Wine drinkers welcome Wine Tours SweetEasy

Wine Tours: experience unexpected in Catalunya, Spain

vineyards in PrioratI have been reviewing wines after my glorious tour in Priorat, one of the two greatest DOQ regions in Spain, yet this time it is to tell you more about the tour experience itself.

It started with truly breathtaking views I cannot describe by just putting some words together. Mountainous area with narrowly laid roads is so attractive with the terraced vineyards, small villages and rustic charm. Population of its biggest towns can be counted by a few hundreds up to thousands people, some mules as well to help wine growers and just few tractors to aid winemakers (yet most of the vineyards are tended manually as they are either steep terraces or even more difficult costers – steep vineyards without dividers, but just simply rows of vines).

Priorat viewsThese pictures can be used as a postcard to illustrate how lucky are these people to be there, growing the grapes and enjoying a rather slow lifestyle, no stress and no pollution.

Most of the growers, especially the small ones, adopted organic and biodynamic viticulture, so their products are much healthier for you and for the environment.

They pinpoint that even an old and abandoned vineyard could be brought to life with transforming it to an organic and biodynamic one; it is also believed that most vines become healthier because of that. Healthier vines mean quality grapes that would eventually be transformed into a happy wine me thinks.

Let’s go back to the topic of wine tours.

It could be a bit of a pain to develop a route by yourself, making it a bit of a gamble whether these picked wineries would be of any interest, and not simple a hello, taste a few wines and goodbye scenario. I am pleased to report on an amazing job done by SweetEasy wine tours in Catalunya. You are to enjoy a professional and completely tailored to your requirements service, so you can do it as an organic tour, cycling tour, or a mixed bag of sightseeing and wine tasting.

BarrelsMy own tour was focused on organic wineries in Priorat, a review on the wines can be found here, and I am very pleased by a diversity of my experience: both the visits, lunch, transport and the wines were exquisite. I remember visiting some wineries in upstate New York couple of years ago (this NY wine tour review opens in a new window) and can make one simple but important comparison – when you do it yourself without a local knowledge and personal acquaintance with the winemakers and owners it becomes more of a ‘bought a ticket, glanced at the vineyards and sampled wines on offer’ tour, not more not less. This time I have had an honour and pleasure meeting the owners, winemakers and people working there, who were sincere, passionate and knowledgeable about the processed and products. These people inspire you and make you think about your own aspirations and passions as well. Barrels2

When you see the whole cycle of wine production – from the vineyard to selection and then processing, and then shown a cellar, where some maturation and ageing take place – you cannot wait to try the wines.

Rustic cellars dated back to medieval times and carefully laid barrels  are intriguing.

A word about a cost – a day tour to Priorat, which will include 2 wineries, private and comfortable transportation from your hotel or private address in Barcelona or Tarragona area, professional wine tasting experience, would start at 170 euro per person, but I want to encourage you to contact SweetEasy wine tours quoting ‘I Blame the Wine’ and get a custom quote (with or without lunch) with an exclusive 15% discount. This will help to buy some exciting wines for yourself!
Scala Dei entrancePriorat was established as a wine growing and winemaking region back in 12th century by Carthusian monks, their incredible property is called Scala Dei (a staircase to God) and you can see on the left how this could be just true – it is magnificent with the trees, mountains and architecture.

We have decided to make a bit of a break from wines and visited it: a historic perspective on how these monks lived in solitude, worked and also learned trade and science says much about Priorat’s rich historic heritage.

When I said a word about an unexpected things that can happen during your tour, I had my lunch in mind. You can order your tour either with lunch or without it, that’s fine. I haven’t really instructed SweetEasy what kind of lunch I wanted, but for some reason my expectations were mostly about a rustic country-side type of a meal. How wrong was I! We arrived to that restaurant, which is owned by an award-winning chef, who decided to relocate back from haut-cuisine in Paris to his native Spain and it is truly in the middle of nowhere, where you get something like this appetiser as a welcome platter.

Priorat lunch an unexpected appetiserCreative, isn’t it?

The point of those capsules is that at the end of it you have a bit of meat and an olive that gently sprinkle with an alcoholic substance when in your mouth.

The rest of the meal was truly amazing as well, fish driven, but tastefully presented and imaginatively supported by garnish and decorations.

You can see that it was not rustic at all, but an unexpected haute cuisine Priorat style was a great surprise.

We then continued on our way to the last vineyard, located quite remotely in the north east side of Priorat – Celler Burgos Porta with their organic wines called Mas Sinen.
Mas Sinen vineyard 2Mas Sinen vineyardWhat a view again!

We have climbed the tops of their vineyards and also got a bit of a lesson of grape varieties – how different is one leaf from another (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha), and how different is fruit as well. The owner works closely with Priorat regulatory board and also oversees a creation of some cross varieties to test how they can perform on this slatey (called ‘licorella’) soil. It was was informative and I felt privileged to get this all first hand from the owner, one of the pioneers of organic viticulture in Priorat.

Scala Dei olive oil tastingAnother small break from wines was a random stop at a shop to see what kind of trade is happening in the region. Don’t you think that this rustic shop looks great? I had no idea how hospitable and and energetic could be an elderly shop woman – she was trying to pick some English words and even learn some new ones whilst I was trying to squeeze some Spanish as well; she has offered three samples of organic olive oil produced nearby to showcase different blends, sweetness and bitterness from young and aged ones.

I should stop right here as I relive the experience in my mind and take a massive pleasure from it. If you are planning a trip to Barcelona or just outside of it in Catalunya (down the path to Tarragona), give them a shout and they will design a tour just for you. I have seen some exciting proposals for cycling tours (make sure it is not boiling hot then!), wine tours to a lesser known regions like Emporda, corporate packages called GPS Challenge and many more where you can explore Catalan wines in a day or two days tour format. It is affordable and their knowledge of places to visit and people to meet (probably equally as important) will make this experience a true memorable one. Don’t forget to get in touch with me and share your thoughts, reviews and wine tasting notes. Have a look at my own wine tasting notes from my visit here.

Cheers!

 

About The Author

Dimitri

Dimitri is passionate about wines, food to go with it, happy & healthy lifestyle, digital marketing, start-ups and entrepreneurship. www.IBlameTheWine.com is about new organic wines in the UK, what to buy or avoid on the retailer shelves; tips on healthy and happy wine lifestyle, but also provides reviews and rankings for organic wines. Get in touch please, I am always on a lookout for new ideas and connections! Cheers.

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