It is a lifestyle. A style of life, and a celebration of life. In a country by the Mediterranean Sea, Southern Europe more precisely. Just like reborn from a long history, this place is a testimony of vibrancy and legacy. Spain’s most famous wine region, La Rioja, is ready for the new century and has a wealth of exciting experiences to offer.
To appreciate them, you might want to suspend your thinking for a while and let yourself go. Let your feelings, your emotions, your body govern. There is a force coming from inside. Just like in the best performances, there is a difference between the great dancer who’s got excellent technique, and the true artist, who’s high up there, untouchable, dancing in paradise for the most delightful enjoyment of your eyes.
Ole Ola, this is the exact feeling you’ll get in that part of Spain. Here is Logroño, a tiny town in Northern Spain, on the Ebro river, known as the capital of La Rioja wine region. Located about 1.5 hours from Bilbao and 2.5 hours from Madrid, this has been a settlement for centuries, first for the Romans and then the Celts, before being disputed in the 10th century between the kings of Navarre and those of Castile. It later became part of the Basque country which today covers the South-West corner of France and the North part of Spain.
Logroño has many small alleys called Calle (pronounce ca-hye); the main ones, Calle Portales and Calle Mayor, have terrasses which are perfect for the evenings and weekends; Calle del Laurel is the center of the social life, known as the “path of the elephants” and Calle San Juan, many restaurants and tapas bars offer the best tapas and their Basque equivalent, pinchos.
Welcome to a culinary and wine paradise. Rich in flavours and colours. So sweet and savoury. And grapes of numerous kinds turned into wines with delicious aromas. Wine and food are integral parts of the daily life in Rioja. They are in every hand, on every lips, with every move. They embody the local belief and the heritage of this region, reborn since the mid-1970s to become, again, one of the preeminent wine regions in the world.
Tonight, in Logroño, you are the lead performer; the crew is made of your friends around you and the strangers in the street; the stage is composed of the tiny alleys of the old Logroño district. The choreography is simple: just walk, and go, and step in and out, from tapas bar to wine bar, and from wine bar to tapas bar.
Here you have the local Tremendus wine of viura grapes and the grilled triple pineapple-shrimp (called it piña-langostino) skewer. The stranger you talk to is becoming a friend who takes you across the paved way to have a delicious rose glass with a cripy chicken cracker. As go next door, you see passionate musicians playing near the fountain. You stop at this bar for a fruity Campo Viejo red with pan-fried foie gras on a toast. Before you know it, you are in the next bar, which only makes 1 tapas, the famed mushroom, which you enjoy with an incredible glass of Roda…
For them, Spaniards of La Rioja, this is one evening like many others. For others, this is one of a kind, something to be truly lived to its full. And more importantly, remember: forget what you have learnt, and let the emotions flow.