Travel Madrid/Rioja/San Sebastian advice please

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Jim Agar, Dec 17, 2017.

  1. Arranging a weekend in Madrid 12/13/14 Jan followed by picking up a car and touring up to San Sebastián via Rioja. Seen previous thread by Tom on San Sebastián and Rekondo and Txulotxo sound more our sort of restaurants rather than more tasting type menus. Juan de Tolosa in Madrid sounds a must.
    So could do with a nice,central hotel in Madrid plus hotels/restaurants/winery visits in Rioja plus a hotel in or near San Sebastián.
    Many thanks in advance.
  2. Rioja - visit the wine museum and eat there (lunch was excellent and a bargain in 2015). Terete in Haro for roast lamb. Also some good places near (IIRC) Beethoven for Pinxtos and a glass of wine. We enjoyed a visit to Remelluri v much but you'll need to make an appointment. Pretty much all the other usual suspects offer tours as a matter of course.
    Jim Agar likes this.
  3. Also worth thinking about Bilboa - beautiful and very affordable..
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  4. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Agree that a visit to the wine museum in Rioja is a must (and it has a very good restaurant). In SS Rekondo an absolute must. We were there in the middle of their major film festival and hotels in the town were impossble to find so we stayed in the Mercure on Monte Igueldo, a funicular ride up from the beach. Big, corporate, but very comfortable and if you book the prestige room, a frankly astonishing views.
    Jim Agar likes this.
  5. Jim,
    choose the winery based on your preferred style of Rioja.

    Lopez de Heredia, La Rioja Alta the standout options for traditional
    Roda, Remirez de Ganuza for more modern style

    Lopez and Roda are side by side and LRA and Muga are across the road, so with careful timing you can fit quite a few in!!
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  6. In Rioja last month I enjoyed a great lunch at La Vieja Bodega in Casalarreina just outside Haro. There is an extensive wine list, ok not so many mature vintages such as at Rekondo in San Sebastian, but at very friendly prices, for example 2010 Roda 1 Reserva - €36 at the bodega, €39.90 in this restaurant. The restaurant is an enormous old barn, bags of atmosphere, with classy service and fine cooking.

    I always pop into La Rioja Alta's wine bar and was pleasantly surprised with their latest wine, 2012 Martelo from their sister bodega Torre de Ona. This was on promotion at about €16, great value.

    Remelluri is one of my favourite wineries and you can call in there without an appointment to buy, with a free tasting thrown in. The current bargain there is magnums of their lovely two 2011 Lindes de Remelluri cuvées at €20, which will be on my table Xmas day. 2010 Reserva and 2009 Gran Reserva available.

    For a personal tour with the owner I can recommend Luis Valentin at Valenciso. High quality wines, and plenty to chat about, in English, over an extended and generous tasting after the tour.
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  7. Great tapas in Haro too ;)
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  8. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    As in, *seriously* great value
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  9. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    I'm sure you have more than enough reccos by now, but another to consider is Bodegas BAIGORRI - stunning winery that's well worth visiting, very good wines in a modern style, and with a really very good restaurant too with amazing views.
    Jim Agar likes this.
  10. Seconding this. Tried it for the first time yesterday and it was lovely; all bright red fruit, sappiness and soft tannins. A very elegant wine that is more than a little Pinot-like!
    Jim Agar likes this.
  11. Jim - a few San Seb reccos for you. I've had fair success with Airbnb. You can normally find something good near La Concha/Parte Vieja. Failing that, the hotel Astoria 7 is comfortable but a little out of town. Follow your nose for pintxos but don't miss Ganbara and Bar Zeruko. Personally I think the steaks at Bar Nestor have gone downhill so save this treat for Rekondo, which is an absolute must as others have mentioned. Get a table on the terrace if you can. Also worth a visit is the small fishing town of Getaria. About a €40 taxi from San Seb and you don't want to drive as you should be having lunch at either Elkano or Kaia Kaipe. Both specialise in various fish cooked over charcoal, with Turbot being the real speciality. Elkano is a little smarter but Kaia has the better wine list - mid 80s Prado Enea is c.€50.
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  12. Had a superb lunch over the summer in the downstairs restaurant part of Ganbara.
    Food much better at Elkano and the list not what it was in Kaia.
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  13. Second (third?) Elkano - the larger the turbot the better
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  14. A few recommendations:

    La Buena Vida (Madrid) - Probably the highest quality produce in Madrid, simple and well executed with a small but excellent wine list.
    Lopez de Heredia (Haro) - If you are only going to visit one winery, make it this.
    Alameda (Fuenmayor) - The best ox chop you will find, cooked by a grill jedi. Seafood is also quite good here.
    Epeleta (Lekunberri) - If you can't make it to Alameda or just love amazing steak, this is another place that uses better quality meat than all of the famous places including Extebarri. Open lunch only.
    Ibai (San Sebastian) - The best restaurant in San Sebastian. In January, you should definitely order the sole (lenguado). Open weekday lunches only.
    Portuetxe (San Sebastian) - If you missed the other two asadors I mentioned and want a steak in town, this is your place.
    Pintxos (San Sebastian) - Ganbara, Zazpi, Antonio, Borda Berri, Casa Urola, Cuchara de San Telmo all good.

    If you do decide on going to Elkano, try their fish soup (best anywhere). As Tom says, you want to go with as large of a turbot as possible!!!
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  15. Booked nice Airbnb's in Madrid(Chamberi) and San Sebastián(Old Town) now so would appreciate advice on where to stay two nights in Rioja. Which town and any particular hotels you'd recommend. Can get on to restaurants then! Flights and car hire all confirmed so getting there with all your help- huge thanks.
  16. If visiting wineries in Haro then stay there. Good tapas bar crawl around the horseshoe.
    Stay at Los Agustinos as it's really central. It has a nice restaurant and the breakfast is good.
    The rooms are fairly basic, but after tastings and tapas you will sleep fine!
    Jim Agar likes this.
  17. Booked. Thanks Ray.
  18. Brindisi at Borough market has the 2013 Lindes de Remelluri for £15.95. I bought a bottle of this recently. What's the likely drinking window?
  19. Quick update on plans- Airbnb’s booked in central Madrid and old town in San Sebastián, Los Agustinos hotel in Haro. Few restaurants booked in Madrid including El Pescador and Juan de Tolosa. Rekondo in SS and visit to Lopez de Heredia in Haro. Think we’ll wing the rest of it or book when we’re there. Definitely fancy exploring the tapas/Pinxtos in SS close to where we’re staying. Flying out to Madrid this Friday. Thanks again to all for advice.
  20. Going to be in Madrid later this year for a long weekend. Tom’s La Buena Vida recommendation sounds good.

    Jim, did you enjoy El Pescador and Juan de Tolosa?

    Any other tips please for restaurants, bars, cafes, markets, wine shops etc? Anything from posh to basic as long as it’s good!
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
  21. Ah, have just found the thread Jim started in 2016 with some good recommendations but more would be gratefully received.
  22. Really enjoyed El Pescador, fabulous seafood but underwhelmed by Juan de Tolosa especially when told by the proprietress that my Galician beef was in fact from Denmark!
    Pretty sure I posted some notes/pics at the time.
  23. Denmark! Oh dear. Thanks Jim, will give that a miss.
  24. My understanding was “galician beef” was animals imported from germany or denmark and allowed to graze in the mountain pastures until they die.
  25. Tasquita de Enfrente, Sacha are good for casual fine. Horcher very traditional fine dining but nice and with a very nice reserve list (very cheap too, if you know where to look). Asturianos if you want Asturian specialties like fabada, Taberna de Elia if you want steak, etc. Buena Vida probably does best in the spring and early fall, YMMV but it's very produce driven.

    Casa Santona have a shop there if you want to pick up some nice 00 anchovies. Wine shops I wouldn't bother with there, unless you are looking for single bottles of something obscure, most of it can be sourced in the UK for around the same £££.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
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