Skip to main content

The Wine Road Less Taken [Ruta del Vino]

“I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. ~Isaac Newton

Today, as some of you know, is Throwback Thursday, and as my blog has afforded me the opportunity to do, I've visited some the best wine regions in the world, Navarra is certainly one of them. So let's take a fond look back, at a region I traveled to three years ago, but one which is still very memorable.
 



Travel has a different meaning for people, but for me, it means it’s time to think long and hard about removing the ‘blinders’ so many of us wear, which keep us plodding on in the same direction and sadly unwilling to bust out of safe wine cocoons of conformity. I’d like to encourage each of you to give the wine-world a good swirl, put something new and fresh in our collective glasses and lean into it.

As many of you know I worked in wine sales for many years, where I've run into folks [consumers] who all too often have no desire to adventure outside their normal everyday tried-n-true domestic staples. Wines, like Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Pinot Noir, etc. In some ways I do totally get that because you want consistency, but is the price of consistency worth giving up on exploration?


People say to me all-the-time, I don't want ‘that’ because I can't taste it! But what I think they are actually saying is "I'm not familiar with ‘that’ and I can't trust that uncorking an unknown wine will do for me."

That's a good point, and I get that, but how do you fix that issue, one way is to go to "focused" tastings where you can experience new wines from new regions, an adventurous [possibly] new habit I'd highly recommend leaning into. So if you want to drill down a bit deeper and you fancy yourself as the adventurous type, you can take a wine-tourism-trip to get a first-hand experience with new wines flavors and styles in their country of origin.


This where you will also learn to make a connection to the folks behind the label, where you can not only learn to drink like a local but eat like one too, taking the road less traveled, with each sip, swirl and slurp and possibly [maybe inevitably] a brief burp. Folks honestly this is the tipping point for a majority of wine-geeks like me because once you experience the wine lifestyle outside the comfy confines of the ‘states,' you're figuratively and literally hooked.

You go abroad enamored with wine drinking and wine culture and come back with a passion that can lay siege to your very soul [maybe a bit of hyperbole]. But honestly, [speaking from personal experiences] once you have peeked behind the curtain, there's no going back to the mundane world of commodity wines.

Even folks with a cursory knowledge of history can see the imprint wine has made upon lives and culture throughout the ages. For me, it's the kind of experience that just grabs you and pulls you in, like no other beverage really can or ever will, wine is in the fabric of nearly every great nation and people on this planet, embrace it.


As you're reading this, think of my words as a type of invitation to get out there, and lay aside the mundane commodity wines you've been drinking for far too long, then go see for yourselves the breadth and depth of what is available on this vinous third rock from the sun.

I think you too will come back with a deeper, greater appreciation and understanding of why wine is not just an ordinary beverage like the pedestrian bottle of Jack Daniels you slurped down on the last flight you took to Reno. I think wine exploration whether by travel or just uncorking something new could help you to find a broader and perhaps better perspective on the wine world.



Okay, I'm done pontificating on the subject of exploration, but I do hope you'll at the very least consider my advice. Now that I've hopefully grabbed your attention, I wanted to shine a light on a great jumping off place for you to do exactly what I've described above. I'm recommending a place which in my mind is ideal in helping you get out there; the Ruta del Vino de Navarra or the simply the "wine-route" in northern Spain.


Once you click on the link above, you will find abundant information on the wineries you can visit, tours you can take and other needed travel information. I find it a bit amusing when in passing conversation, about I trip I had once made to the Ruta del Vino de Navarra because they look at me so puzzled when I mention the Navarra Wine Route in northern Spain.

But when I dive into the details with a bit more context, about one of the great jumping-off points for great vinous adventures, and that it happens to be in Pamplona, their eyes light up, and their heads nod in knowing approval of this famous destination and that's no bull. Truly, folks, Pamplona is a great place to stay and a great city to explore, while visiting the Navarra Wine Route, especially in the offseason.


It's also a great place hang out in the evening after a long day out on the wine-route, as the city pumps with action nightly even in the off-season [which is the best time to go]. There are pintxos bars to visit, many upscale tasty dining options and great tasting vino to drink all within easy walking distance from many hotels in the area.

I stayed at the beautiful Palacio Guendulain with the rest of the Navarra Five, a perfect place to recharge your batteries. As our group hit the ground running every day soaking in the culture and exploring the fantastic Ruta del Vino de Navarra first hand, where we saw medieval castles, Roman ruins, experiencing all the fascinating aspects of the Kingdom of Navarra. 


But hey, don't just come for the bountiful wine-experience, stay for the incredible culture. So what are you waiting for? Book it now, you'll thank me later. If you would like to see more of the pictures I took while I was there, please click over to my Navarra Five [group shot below] page on Flickr. Until next time sip long and prosper cheers!


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Champagne Uncorked: A Visit to Champagne Louis Roederer

“I'll drink your champagne. I'll drink every drop of it, I don't care if it kills me.”  ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gatsby Girls
My first trip to Champagne, was for me, a complete success. I came away from the trip with a brand new appreciation and a deeper desire to get to know it so much better. With each trip to France, I come away with a profound new respect for the country and its people. I've become a Francophile. A place, I barely knew or understood twelve years ago, back before I started this wine journey I'm currently on. I know this will sound cliched, but I like to think of wine as a journey, it's not a destination.

Each stone you overturn on the pathway to discovery develops greater understanding and appreciation not only for the wine but for the great folks behind these labels, who bring great traditions and passion to the table. It's evident in what they say, how they say it and oh-so-evident in the final product, passion is a sure 'seller' a…

Five Last-Minute Thanksgiving Wine Buys

"The three things that make a vineyard great are the climate, the soil, and the exposure. Bien Nacido Vineyard ~ James Ontiveros  

Another wonderful year is nearly ready to put in the can and stored away for posterity. But every year at this time we collectively take the time-out to give a "thanks" for our many blessings.Every year at this time, I give my Top Five Thanksgiving Holiday Wine 'picks' and this year is no exception. I know my post is a bit "danger" close for those wanting to stock up for the holiday, but this short and sweet guide is for the procrastinators who've waited for the last minute to hear about five Oregon Pinot Noir selections to brighten up their holiday menus for Thursdays big feast. 

The Willamette Valley in Oregon is known as a 'mecca' of sorts, where powerful, yet delicate, soulful Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay is grown, fermented, aged and bottled. I've recently become a resident of this state, much t…

A Spoonful of Social Media

“You can buy attention [advertising]. You can beg for attention from the media [PR], or you can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.” –David Meerman Scott, Best-Selling Author & Speaker

It was just about four years ago in downtown Paso Robles that Mrs. Cuvee and I were visiting the area, which we try to do as often as possible. We love to hit the wine trail nice and early, but before we head out for the day, we make it a point to have a big breakfast. Since we were staying at the Paso Robles Inn, we thought we'd have breakfast there at least once, the food was tasty, the service was excellent, and the coffee was hot. 

Just one thing was missing that morning; there were no spoons, yes you heard me right, not even a single spoon anywhere to stir cream and sugar into my coffee. We looked at the tables behind us, nothing, we looked into the server station, t…