Camino de Santiago Day 10: Logrono to Najera

9 04 2018

Day Ten! My body is in full efficiency mode, feet are good muscles are toned, the poles are like another set of limbs working to take the pressure off my joints. And I have rhythm!

We got up early enough to get Suzy’s bag set to ship out by 8 since the Pension was unattended in the morning. Although there was rain forecast when we left we saw none. Right down the road we saw cafe Picasso advertising breakfast for 2,80 coffee, fresh squeezed juice and a jamon and pepper sandwich that was freshly prepared, absolutely delicious. As we sat there easing into the day we glanced outside and it was pouring. Despite the big day ahead we took our time with breakfast and miraculously when we were ready to go the rain was light, not dumping like before. Sophia the cafe server even agreed to help Suzy get minutes from the Orange store for her phone, it wasn’t open until much later in the morning, but Suzy gave her some cash and she sweetly agreed to load the minutes for her later in the day.

The walk out of Logrono was tedious. With the rain constant we had hats and hoods on and it was often hard to look up to see the signs for the Camino. We passed by a protest for a trial we heard about at the court and almost got lost a few blocks down. Remember that rain doesn’t always fall down, Today it was falling AT us sideways and soon my pants were soaked and I was a bit chilly without another layer underneath. We saw a dog dressed very fancy wearing a shirt and corduroy pants, he looked warmer than we were.

With the rain we stop less to look around and I don’t take as many photos since my phone is wrapped up in plastic. We did get a break in the rain after a rest stop that had facilities and had a chance to watch some swans and ducks.

We just kept walking and walking until we saw the town of Navarette. Suzy made up a fun marching song and we marched on up to the town. We kept on the Camino not wanting to stop at he very first cafe we saw but we found very little on the route, lots of shuttered homes and abandoned buildings. We eventually left the route and found some banks where I got cash but Suzy was still unable to exchange dollars. She has enough for now but he plan is to try to get another hotel in a big town to do an exchange later in the trip. We did find a cute cafe but they had limited food, our breakfast was holding us over but we got two beers and a big piece of pork belly that they heated for us, delicious! we could feel the meat reenergizing our muscles. Sadly our clothes had not dried but we put them back on and plodded on.

Amazingly the rain had stopped but it was really cold at first, the wind was whipping and temperatures seemed to have dropped. There were lots of vineyards with pinkish soil and a good deal of mud. We stopped briefly in Ventosa for a beverage but we found each time we stopped we seemed to be get even colder.

We walked on and walked and walked. We missed a sign once and ended up at the bottom of a muddy hill only to see footsteps heading the wrong way and realized our error. And we walked. I was irritated to see that we were still far from the town it seemed endless as we wife past factories and industrial parts of town but eventually we made it to the Puerta de Najera hostel. The place is awesome, a great group of pilgrims were there and two pilgrim families merged. Somehow of course Heino and Marc and Helena were there and as we enjoyed some wine with the pilgrims there we met new ones! Gigi from San Francisco greeted us as we’d met on the Camigas blog and we met Z, Alyssa and Andi who were to my excitement playing left right center (although sadly not for money). We shared some wine which was available for sale at the hostel. Mary came in and gave us the brilliant idea to microwave a potato and cover it with cheese. Suzy and I headed out in search of the grocery store which is seconds from the hostel but went down the wrong street to our good fortune though as we found a place that serves the mushrooms like we had in Logrono and a fancy butcher where we got some lomo!

We finally found the grocer also and created a little feast of bonito tuna, white asparagus, local cheese and my favorite boquerones. And a bottle of El Coto Rioja crianza. At 10 they shut the lights and now we have survived the 6:30 am rustle and shuffle as pilgrims rush out of here. It’s 7:15 am now and maybe five of us are left, and it’s still dark out. Suzy has been wondering where they got the night vision goggles they must have ;). We like to take our time and ease into the day. I did brush my teeth early today and there were people lined up and waiting, so I’m cool to leave later. We have a mellow walk today anyway…

Oh I failed to mention that yesterday’s walk was 20.1 miles including our walk through the town. 🙂

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Camino de Santiago

21 01 2018

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Vinos de Madrid

16 07 2008

In November 2007, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Salon de los Vinos de Madrid, a tasting of DO Madrid wines conveniently held in… Madrid.  It was a short trip, my second visit, but here are some tips on the wines and where to go if you find yourself there.   

 

 

While Madrid may evoke images of a cosmopolitan nation’s capital full of museums and cultural opportunities, most consumers and even wine industry professionals do not think of Madrid as a wine region.  They may picture themselves drinking a glass of Spanish wine with some tapas at a bar table at the Plaza Mayor, but many don’t even know that wines from Madrid exist, so let me let you in on a secret, Madrid wines have incredible potential, so get to know them!

Although wines have been made in Madrid since ancient times, 13th century, the challenges that Spain faced due to phylloxera, World War I, the Spanish Civil War and World War II followed by financial depression through the 70s squelched the wine culture somewhat.  Many vineyards were abandoned and never replanted, and abandoned cellars abound.  The good news is there is a resurgence in wine growing that is accompanied by increased understanding of viticultural techniques and cleaner winemaking.  What used to be rustic table wine is gaining finesse and has the potential to compete on the world wine market.  The Spanish government recognized the strides that local producers have made by rewarding the Denominacion de Origen Vinos de Madrid in 1990, and wines continue to improve.  It won’t be long until these wines catch on both abroad and in the local market.

All types of wine are made including sparkling, Cava, but the best wines seem to be reds.  A blending of traditional grape varieties, Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache) with international varieties, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon is proving to be successful.  Joven wines, those without barrel age are bright and fruity with softer tannins and less concentration.  They tend to be simple and quaffable and offer great value.  Crianza wines, aged a minimum of six months in barrel and a full year in bottle, are a bit richer but still very drinkable and reserve styles tend to be more concentrated and fruit driven.  Roses are bright and fruity and whites tend to be lightly aromatic and fresh and include some native varieties such as the Malvar, grown only in Madrid.

Three sub-regions make up the Madrid appellation, Arganda in the Southeast, Navalcarnero due south of the city and San Martin to the Southwest.  While many of the 41 producers of Vinos de Madrid are note yet exported to the United States, it won’t be long until they are discovered.  Some producers have limited distribution and are worth searching out.

Bodega Ecologica Andres Morate is a find, Vino Bosquera 2006 is a Joven blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon that has great intensity and balance and Esther Crianza 2004 a rich spicy wine with a very long and rich finish made  of also of Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. (www.andresmorate.com) 

Bodegas Ricardo Benito produces some of the most elegant and refined wines of the DO including Duan 2004 a very intense blackcurrant flavored blend of Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah, Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon and a truly great wine called Asido 2003 aged in new Alliers medium toast barrels.  The wine has very refined flavors and great balance of fruit and oak.  (www.ricardobenito.com) 

Gosalbez Orti is a newcomer started in 2000 producing wines from organically grown grapes under the Qubel label.  Paciencia is 70% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah and 10% Garnacha .  Excepcion is 100% Garnacha, but my favorite was Nature, mostly Tempranillo with some Cabernet Sauvignon, really concentrated with violet aromas and incredible minerality.  They even have a wine shop and tasting area available for private tastings, the first in their town to offer tastings the potential for enotourism is great considering it is a mere 35 minute drive from Madrid.  (www.qubel.com) 

Vinos Jeromin straddles the bar between tradition and innovation with wines like their Felix Martinez Reserva Cepas Viejas (old vines) 85% Tempranillo and 15% Syrah from 75-80 year old vines.  The wine is really concentrated and spicy with rich anise and berry flavors.  They also make the standout white of the region, an oak fermented Malvar, Puerta del Sol 2006 and a very tasty Rosado (rose) as well under the Puerta de Alcala label.  (vinosjeromin.com) 

The wines from Madrid match expertly with the traditional cuisine, tapas like jamon Iberico and lomo, roasted meats, lamb and pork, and some of the lighter reds are perfectly at home paired with fish.

Although they may be a bit hard to find, Wines of Madrid although elusive are worth searching out and offer a great range of flavors.  

Vinosdemadrid.es

Food Tips!

Oldest restaurant in Madrid Restaurante Botin, Casa Fundada en 1725, Calle de Cuchilleros, 17, botin@restaurantebotin.com specializes in roasted suckling pig

Paradis great spot for lunch incredible calamari (Calamarcitos a la Plancha) near the Palace Hotel, another nice hotel is the Villa Real Hotel

Try Lechal, one year old baby lamb that is fed only herbs and milk, we had it at the Molino de Cantaranas in the Araganda subregion Hotel Molino de Cantarranas Crta. M-204 Km. 2 Tielmes, Madrid

Merluza is a common and delicious fish, known in English as Hake

Don’t miss the Jamon Iberico and lomo

Casa Lucio is in the heart of old Madrid, delicious boquerones (Spanish anchovies), lomo and Jamon Iberico and incredible roasted steak.  President Clinton had visited the night before and the owner was very proud!

Try La Venencia, the oldest sherry bar in Madrid, they keep tabs of what you eat with chalk on the counter!