Fly-drive - 9 nights and 10 daysThis tour through central and northern Spain explores three of the great wine regions of Spain: Méntrida, the Duero, and La Rioja. Time to sample local specialties and taste the varied wines as you travel, stopping off at a series of luxurious and influential hotels which produce their own excellent wines and offer exploration experiences of the gastronomy and vineyards alike.Tantalise your taste-buds on this luxury tour of Spain’s finest vineyards. Begin with your flight from Heathrow to Madrid, from where you collect your hire car and head southwest to Torrico in Méntrida. Your hotel for the first two nights of your touring holiday will be the Valdepalacios, situated amidst the wine regions of Castilla-La Mancha. Sample the local Manchego cheese and the rich red wines before heading out to the nearby City of Three Cultures, Toledo. Drive on, from here, to Valverdón and the Hacienda Zorita for your next three nights. Now in the Castilla y León region of Spain, you are poised to explore the huge variety of flavours that Spain’s largest region produces. From robust reds to aromatic whites, the Rueda and Toro areas are some of the best respected in Spain. Finally, drive southwest to Elciego in La Rioja, and the Marqués de Riscal. Head into Logroño to learn about the production of local wines in one of the many wineries, or to visit the inspired Concatedral de Santa María de la Redonda. Your hotel is the crowning glory of your final few days in Spain, not only because of its magnificent architectural design, but because of the intrinsic part it plays in the town’s wine-production. Finish your touring holiday by returning to Madrid. Perhaps spend a few hours in the capital before returning your hire car and catching your return flight to Heathrow.Click here to download a pdf with details about this touring holiday.PRICESPrices start at £2,150 per person.What’s included:• Scheduled flights with British Airways, from London Heathrow to Madrid Barajas return• Group C car hire for ten days• 3 nights bed and breakfast in a standard double room at the Valdepalacios in Torrico• 3 nights bed and breakfast in a standard double room at the Hacienda Zorita near Valverdón• 3 nights bed and breakfast in a standard double room at the Marqués de Riscal in Elciego• 1 hour wine and olive oil tasting experience at the Valdepalacios• Tasting of 3 of the hotel’s vintages at the Hacienda Zorita• Guided visit of the Marqués de Riscal bodega and estate with wine tasting experienceClick the tabs above to view our suggested day-by-day touring itinerary and to find out more about the hotels featured.Click here to find out more about how our touring holidays work.
Day-by-Day ItineraryDAYS ONE TO THREE:Arrive in Madrid and drive south west to Torrico, where you will spend three nightsFly from Heathrow into Madrid and collect your hire-car before driving to your first hotel, the Valdepalacios, a luxurious manor house set amid a rambling estate near Oropesa in the Méntrida wine region. Castilla-La Mancha is most famous for its Manchego cheese, and as the setting of Don Quixote, though it has a vast heritage with regards to wine too. This area is currently best known for the red wines it produces with the Garnacha grape, though the hot dry climate has, in the past, limited the grapes that can grow in this harsh region. Up until fairly recently, wine-makers quite strictly used the Airen grape; but now wine-growers have started growing grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, and Monastrell. Castilla-La Mancha is now home to eight Vino de Pago estates, but the most notable is still the very first, the Dominio de Valdepusa, situated close to the Valdepalacios hotel. Relax during your first day at the hotel, and dine in the Michelin-starred restaurant in the evening. To tickle your taste-buds on your second day, we include an olive oil tasting session with Chef José Carlos Fuentes, and a sampling of the local wines with sommelier Álvaro Prieto. If you wish, we can also organise a cookery class where you can learn to cook two dishes in a group under the guidance of the hotel’s chef. For cultural excursions, you may wish to visit Toledo, the City of Three Cultures, to see the mingling of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian architecture and influence. Built into a wide meander in the River Tajo, Toledo is the former capital of Spain. During an afternoon or morning’s visit, you may wish to visit the 13th century Gothic cathedral to see its 88 pillars, the vast collection of paintings housed in the sanctuary, or the 13th century stained glass. The Iglesia de Santiago de Arrabal is the most stunning example of Mudéjar architecture in the city, while the Cristo de la Luz is characterised by the keyhole archways and colourful stone that make it so quintessentially Arabic. The Iglesia de Santo Tomé even resembles the famous minaret at the centre of Marrakech. Retire at the end of each of your days to the secluded Valdepalacios to relax in the peaceful countryside, making the most of the excellent spa facilities, and the beautiful outside space.DAYS FOUR TO SIX:Drive north from Torrico to your next hotel near Valverdón, and stay for three nightsHead further north into Castilla y León, passing through the scenic Extremadura region. If possible, take a detour across the bridge of the Embalse de Valdecañas, or divert your route to enjoy craggy, mountainous scenery and stop off in Salamanca on the way to the Hacienda Zorita. Spend an hour or two in Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor, watching the world go by in a small café; or, explore the fascinating cathedral, with its very traditional, dynamic design. Behind the cathedral sits the Casa Lys, a museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco collections. When you arrive at the Hacienda Zorita, take the time to relax at this tranquil wine hotel and spa, set within an estate on the banks of the River Tormes. Your stay here promises a mouth-watering array of food and wine experiences. We have included on this tour a tasting of three of the hotel’s vintages with an expert sommelier. The hotel’s restaurant serves rugged cuisine, crafted by a Michelin-starred chef, who uses many ingredients from the estate’s own organic farm. Accounting for one fifth of Spain’s land area, the Castilla y León region naturally produces a wide variety of different grapes, and your hotel sits you within short driving distance (less than 70 minutes) from Toro and Rueda, both of which are recognised to produce some of the best Castilla y León wines. The aromatic white wines of Rueda, such as Rueda Verdejo, Rueda Sauvignon, and the sparkling Rueda Espumoso, are worth tracking down, as well as the Rueda Dorada, a fortified white wine named after its golden colour. In Toro, a town which fittingly has a bull as its emblem, robust red wines are produced. The wine-making traditions of this town pre-date the Romans, and vineyards are typically found around 600m above sea-level. Less than an hour’s drive north will bring you to Zamora, a picturesque town built on the rocky banks of the Duero River that has been called ‘a museum of Romanesque art.’ Comprised of winding streets, quaint houses with terracotta roofs, and no less than 24 churches dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, Zamora is an excellent destination for a cultural trip. Spend a few hours navigating the many islands that follow the river’s flow, or head east for a leisurely walk around the fractured shore of the forked Embalse de Ricobayo.DAYS SEVEN TO NINE:Drive north east to Elciego for your final two nightsToday’s journey only takes between 2 and 3 hours so you can choose to drive via Burgos or the more scenic route through the wooded hills of the Parque Natural Sierra de Cebollera before reaching La Rioja, where you stay at the stunning Marqués de Riscal, a contemporary hotel whose vineyards date back to the mid-19th Century. Also on your route are Valladolid and Peñafiel, a mighty hilltop structure with views across an old town below. Dating back to the 10th century, this castle and its surroundings form a model image of historic Spain. The central plaza of the town of Peñafiel is ceaselessly charming, lined with chaotic irregular townhouses, adorned with dark wood shutters and wooden roofs. Located only a short distance from Logroño, the Marqués de Riscal is surrounded by wineries where you can learn more about the wines that have made the region famous, produced mainly from the Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes. The beginning of the 19th century marked Elciego’s real rise in wine-making as, at this time, it was the most significant producer of the Rioja Alavesa wine. This full-bodied, acidic wine is exceptionally popular overseas, and has Viura grapes added to it in order to magnify these attributes. Your hotel set the standards for this production. During your stay here we include a guided visit of the Marqués de Riscal estate and bodega, and a separate wine tasting experience in the contemporary wine bar to sample a selection of Marqués de Riscal wines with a sommelier. While investigating the vineyards and wineries of the local area, you may wish to seek out wines made from grapes other than the typical Tempranillo grape, such as Malvasia wine. In Elciego itself is the San Andrés de Elciego Parish Church. This building, however, lives beyond its title. An austere, unassuming building from the outside, inside, the Retablo Mayor gives the impressively designed interior a powerful golden glow. The Plaza Mayor is a mysterious square that exists far from the hustle and bustle of larger towns, and possesses an affecting aura of peace and quiet. The nearby city of Logroño, as well as being the home of many renowned wineries, is a seat of much intriguing culture and art. One sight that is essential to any visit is the Concatedral de Santa María de la Redonda. This cathedral’s façade was designed to resemble an altarpiece, with a doorway sheltered by a half-dome and enclosed in wrought iron fencing. ‘Las Gemelas’ is the name of the two towers, or ‘twins’, that dominate the doorway, built in a perfect example of the local Baroque style. Inside hangs a painting of the crucifixion which has been attributed to Michelangelo. In one of the many chapels, the Santo Sepulcro is detailed in tortoiseshell, silver, and wood. This itinerary cannot be complete without mention of the fascinating exterior design of the Marqués de Riscal. A sculpture in its own right, it pays testament both to the colourful, smooth wines that it produces, and the artistic heritage of the local area. Dine on dishes created by a Michelin-starred chef, or indulge in the Vinothérapie spa.
DAY ELEVEN:Drive back to Madrid for your return flight to the UKOn your final day you leave drive back southwards to Madrid airport where you drop off your car before flying back to London Heathrow.Driving times for this touring holiday:Madrid to Torrico: 1 hour 40 minutesTorrico to Valverdón: 2 hours 15 minutesValverdón to Elciego: 3 hours 25 minutesElciego to Madrid: 3 hours 30 minutesClick the 'Hotel Information' tab to find out more about the hotels featured in this touring itinerary.
These are the prestigious wine hotels that are featured on this wine-tasting touring holiday. Alternative hotels are available in some destinations – please contact us for full details.ValdepalaciosTorricoSet in a grand Spanish manor house amid a rambling 600-hectare estate near Toledo, the Hotel Valdepalacios experience constitutes an indulgence of all the senses. It is a Relais & Châteaux property where the beauty of the setting is ripe for gastronomic exploration and pampering. Enter the enclosed courtyard where cobblestones pave the way, manoeuvre the water features and iconic cypress trees to draw up at a grand palace with true Spanish flare, peach-walled and ivy-clad. The main structure is home to the Tierra restaurant, which will be the highlight of your stay. Situated in an elegant dining room with lofty ceilings, marble floors and French-style furniture, Tierra owes its Michelin star to the outstanding quality of service, as constructed by Jose Carlos Fuentes. The experience here befits the Hotel Valdepalacios concept which idealises the coming together of regional wine, culture, and cuisine. Special extensions of this experience include cookery courses and tastings of olives and wine – or, for a more potent mix, gin and tonic. For further sensory pleasures, guests may seek the Boutique Caroli Health Club Spa for wellbeing and beauty treatments. Facilities here include a Turkish bath, a hydrotherapy bath, and an indoor swimming pool. An outdoor pool can also be sought in the grounds. By night, you will find no lack of comfort in your accommodation; the 27 spacious rooms and suites are individually decorated and modern in style. You can choose between rooms in the main house, built in the 19th century, and those among the gardens boasting countryside views.Find out more here.Hacienda ZoritaValverdónOn the banks of the River Tormes, which runs into Salamanca seven miles away, Hacienda Zorita is a luxury wine and spa hotel steeped in history. Founded in 1366 as a monastery, and then converted into an innovative flour mill in the 19th century, the original buildings were recently brought back to life as home to the Marqués de la Concordia wines. The façade of the La Casa Grande building is reminiscent of an aristocratic English manor house, yet its architecture is firmly of the central region. Interiors retain exposed stonework where possible, particularly in Zorita’s Kitchen, where the dining experience emphasises rugged, home-grown cuisine under the direction of Michelin-starred Chef Victor Gutierrez. Drawing much of its produce from Hacienda Zorita’s very own organic farm, the menu is made up of Mediterranean dishes and hearty regional staples of bread and wine. The atmosphere is sociable, with mismatched seating around large tables for communal dining. Each of the 40 rooms, suites and villas is individually decorated and furnished with the utmost comfort in mind, while views are either of the vineyard or the river. Other on-site facilities include swimming pools and a unique wine spa. The wine-themed experiences of Hacienda Zorita are endless thanks to the age-old vines that have adorned this sprawling riverside plot for over seven centuries. Daytrips from this rural retreat to Salamanca make for magical historical excursions.Find out more here.Marqués de RiscalElciegoA wine lover’s retreat, Hotel Marqués de Riscal is a contemporary masterpiece surrounded by rolling vineyards on the outskirts of the town of Elciego in the Basque Country. Built in 2006 by renowned architect Frank Gehry, the distinctive structure is a space-age vision amid the picturesque landscape, complete with a curved and twisting metal roof. A Luxury Collection hotel combining art and design, food and wine, the Hotel Marqués de Riscal experience is a sensory one. Be assured of sampling the region’s most fabulous labels at the Wine Bar, while the two restaurants provide unique settings for ambient meals. The self-titled Marqués de Riscal Restaurant has a Michelin star to its name, and the exciting cuisine of Chef Francis Paniego is accompanied by a choice of up to 200 fine vintage wines. The dining room combines heady, wall-to-wall reds with pristine white table cloths, but you can opt to dine on the terrace amid spectacular vistas over the vineyards to the mountains behind. Bistro 1860 is a more casual setting for local Spanish cuisine with a modern twist, where the Chef’s Table offers a unique opportunity to observe the kitchen staff at work. If possible, even better views can be sought at the rooftop library lounge, where beverages are served as you browse reading material on La Rioja’s wine-producing history. Continue your wine-themed experience at Hotel Marqués de Riscal’s Spa Vinothérapie, where the essence of grape is used in health and beauty treatments, including barrel baths for hydro-massage sessions enriched with vine extracts. A lovely addition to the service is access to bicycles, which you can take on gentle rides through the delightful countryside.Find out more here.
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