“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.” – Galileo Galilei
Wines produced in the United States are usually categorized based on the type of grapes used in making the wine, whereas European wines are typically named after the region where the grapes are grown. In Europe, the terroir, or land, of the wine reigns. It indicates the combination of the soil type, grapes, altitude, climate, and even dominant plants that grow nearby that a particular region or even a single vineyard has that will create a particular type of wine. The unique environmental factors and even traditions of a locale will all affect the flavor of the wine.
Savor Rioja Wine & Spanish Flavors
Two wine regions in Spain use the same Tempranillo grapes that thrive in short growing seasons but produce different wines due to the climate and altitudes where they are grown, and you can sample both on Sceptre’s Rioja Wine & Spanish Flavors.
After two nights in Madrid you will drive to a winery in Aranda de Duero for a visit and tasting of Ribera del Duero while enjoying the landscapes of the region (named Wine Region of the Year in 2012 by Wine Enthusiast magazine). Winemakers in Ribera del Duero sometimes refer to the thick-skinned black Tempranillo grapes as tinto fino, to make the distinction between the wine from this region and those grown in Rioja. Try Ribera del Duero with some seared lamb or other roasted meat! Dark chocolate also has the strength to stand up to a Ribera del Duero.
You’ll continue on to the pristine La Rioja region. Your time in La Rioja begins with a visit to a local winery to see the traditional way they make their wine and their large collection of aging bottles. After your guided tour, enjoy a tasting of the local Rioja wines. At a visit to La Rioja Wine Museum you will enjoy a gourmet lunch with picturesque views of the surrounding landscapes.
The regions of Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa harvest their grapes in September-October, while the Rioja Alta region usually sees grape harvest in late October due to its elevation. Rioja wine is aged in oak barrels and goes very well with savory food, such as jamon serrano and manchego cheese that pair nicely with the strong body of the Rioja.
Then travel north to visit the Marques de Riscal Winery, the “City of Wine” designed by world-famous architect Frank O. Gehry and recently named Best European Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine. Enjoy a wine tasting after your visit that includes appetizers of Iberic Ham, Idiazábal cheese, and chorizo riojano.
Continue your immersion in Spanish culture in San Sebastián with a tapas tour, accompanied by a local guide, visiting a traditional tasca/meson (tavern/inn) and a pintxo bar. You will conclude your vacation with two nights in the northern city of Bilbao.
Enjoy Wine Under Tuscan Sun
Interspersed with leisure time to explore Florence, enjoy tours around Tuscany’s bountiful vineyards on Sceptre’s Wine under the Tuscan Sun vacation.
A tour of Chianti’s Castles and Vineyards will take you to one of the Chianti region’s most famous wine estates with its historical cellars and castle. You’ll hear about some of their secrets on the making of the world-famous Chianti and learn about its history, plus enjoy a tasting of the delicious vino paired with traditional Italian delicacies.
Your second tour will be a private Tuscan wine tasting with a professional Italian sommelier, where you’ll be able to ask all of your wine questions in a more intimate setting. The sommelier will share an organoleptic analysis of each sample, covering the appearance, aroma, and taste of the wine.
- Appearance (clarity, fluidity, color, and effervescence)
- Aroma (primary, secondary, and tertiary, but also floral, woody, spiced, etc.)
- Taste (sugar content, structure, persistance, acidity, etc.)
You will also learn how to pair meals with different types of wines. We know you’ll leave the experience with more knowledge and love for Italy’s fine wine!