Wine Country International

Page 1

Rueda, Spain’s Epic White Wine Region

Our journey through Madrid, Segovia, Valladolid, and Rueda

Grape Expectations: Viognier


Editors Letter

We are excited to celebrate our twentieth year of Wine Country International® Magazine publishing. This twenty-year ride has created thousands of delicious experiences.

This issue features our September 2022 visit to Madrid and the Rueda wine region. Darcy and I had never visited Madrid, so going there was exciting. As it turned out, Spain’s capital city was the perfect starting point for our excursions to Rueda and Ribera del Duero in the north. Madrid is located dead center in the middle of Spain. It is Spain’s largest city, with 3.3 million inhabitants and 6 million people, counting the surrounding suburbs.

Madrid had an overabundance of friendly people, delectable restaurants, hotels with rooftop bars, world-class museums, and historical sites. On the way to the Rueda wine region, we had to stop in the historic city of Segovia. This city and its aqueduct were registered as World Heritage sites in 1985. The aqueduct dates to 1008.

Rueda is one of Spain’s only designated white wine regions. Today the region produces more than 41% of Spain’s white wine production. The primary grape Verdejo is native to the area. Sauvignon is second in popularity. Other white grapes include Viura, Palomino Fino, Viognier, and Chardonnay. Visiting during Harvest was an extra exceptional experience. Many cities and towns were in celebration mode for the first time since Covid impacted gatherings. People were excited to be enjoying life to the fullest. This issue also features coverage on Denver’s newest French restaurant, Chez Maggy, owned by celebrity Chef Ludo Lefebvre. Grape Expectations Columnist Elizabeth Woessner demystifies Viognier and nabs a classic Scallop recipe from Celebrity Chef and Author Jacques Pépin.We hope that you will enjoy this issue in the same way we enjoyed creating it!

Caption: WCI Co-Founder Darcy R. Davies (Center) with. Rueda Winemakers


Wine Country International ® Magazine

Christopher J. Davies, Co-Founder, Editor & Publisher

Darcy R. Davies, Co-Founder & Design Director

Wine Education & Travel Editor, Ron Kapon

Editorial Assistant: Marisa Haag

Lifestyle Editor, V.G. Walsh

Director of Photography, Christopher J. Davies

Contributing Editors:

Simone FM Spinner, Elizabeth Woessner

Blair Bowman, Michael Long and Larry Wilcox

Advertising, Sponsorship:

A publication of Wine Country Network, Inc.

Christopher J. Davies, Chairman & CEO, Co-Founder

Darcy Davies, President & Co-Founder


Pages 3


Page 20-25

Wine Country Network, Inc.

390 Interlocken Crescent, Suite 350, Broomfield, CO 80021 Tel. 303-665-0855


Address editorial inquiries to

Wine Country International Online:

Twitter: @vinotasting


Wine Country International Magazine does not accept unsolicited manuscripts, drawings, photographs, or other works. All letters sent to Wine Country Network will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes.

Contents © 2023 by Wine Country Network, Inc.

All rights reserved. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or part without the written permission of the publisher.

All photography in this publication, unless otherwise noted is copyrighted by

Christopher J. Davies, all rights reserved.


Pages 6-7


Pages 26-31 Segovia

Book Riviews





Pages 22-59 Page 61 Ribera del Duero Pages 14-17 Viognier Pages 8-13 Chez Maggy

Jacques Pépin Art of the Chicken ***** Top Gift

Master Chef’s Paintings, Stories, and the Humble Bird

ISBN: 9780358654513

256 pages: $30, $50 (signed copy)

We all remember Jacques Pépin from his television appearances with Julia Child. This book celebrates the chef’s lifelong love of the humble bird. It is much more than a cookbook. It covers Chef Pépin’s illustrious career at Howard Johnson Corporation, turning down an offer to cook at the White House, and more. Pépin is a multi-talented artist and painter. His recipes are loosely formulated, providing essential ingredients without precise measurements, but easily achievable by experienced home cooks. This book includes many illustrations of chickens. Best of all, we love the many backstories, observations, and words of wisdom that Chef Pépin shares in the fantastic book.


Tabemasho! Let’s Eat! ****

A History of Japanese Food in America

ISBN: 9781611729504

216 Pages: $18.95 print/ $9.95 eBook

Gil Asakawa is a Denver-based foody born in Japan and raised in the US. This book covers how Japanese food has taken America by storm. From Soy sauce to Sushi, with beef and tempura tips for home cooking, this book provides excellent information on finding top quality Sushi. Not all Sushi is authentic Sushi.

The book’s glossary and resources sections provide valuable information for anyone looking to up their Japanese cooking game!


Chez Maggy

Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s Butter-Filed French Brasserie touches down in Denver!

Story and photos by Christopher J. Davies

Colorado foodies enjoyed a wide range of dining choices over the past two decades. Denver and Boulder in particular have earned reputations as “ground zero” for exquisite fine dining destinations, with restaurants like Frasca Food and Wine, Atelier by Radex, Fruition, Guard and Grace, Rioja, Mizuna, and Il Posto. Sadly, the global pandemic has mortally wounded several community favorites. One of my wife and my mainstays was Brasserie Ten Ten in Boulder, which shuttered its doors during the early days of the pandemic lockdowns. Its siblings, The Med and La Perla, suffered the same fate.

Fortunately, 2022 is looking like it is going to be excitingly delicious! We owe our thanks to outstanding medical professionals and vaccines for creating a safer environment for restaurants to open and for patrons to visit them. We also must thank restaurateurs, like Chef Ludo Lefebvre, for having the strength, courage, and faith to open new restaurants during these difficult times.

Chez Maggy, a traditional French brasserie created by Chef Ludo, is located in the newly opened, upscale, 216-room Thompson Hotel Denver. Ludo lovingly named the restaurant after his wife’s late mother, Margaret. Ludo’s wife, Krissy, grew up in Denver, and he and his family consider the Mile High City their “second home” outside of Los Angeles.

Chef Ludo Lefebvre is a James Beard Award finalist and Michelin-starred chef. He was born in Burgundy and has worked for some of France’s top culinarians, including Alain Passard, Marc Meneau, Pierre Gagnaire, and Guy Martin. After paying his dues, Chef Ludo first branched out with the launch of “LudoBites,” a multi-city restaurant tour credited for igniting the pop-up restaurant craze. He has definitely earned his title as the “Pop-Up King”.

Lefebvre planted his roots in Los Angeles, creating several culinary hotspots, including Trois Mec, a 28-seat restaurant, followed by his “bar a la carte” concept, Petit Trois, in 2014. Creating two of Los Angeles’s most sought-after dining destinations has led to prestige, fame, and a Michelin star. He has also appeared on numerous food shows, like the PBS series The Mind of a Chef, which was narrated by the late, great Anthony Bourdain. I highly recommend watching the show. Its unique approach takes viewers inside the creative minds of some of the world’s greatest chefs and Anthony Bourdain’s commentary adds humor and depth.

Chef Ludo has also created LudoBird, his take on French-inspired fried chicken sandwiches. The sandwiches are sauced with Bearnaise or a selection of pepper-inspired options. LudoBird is located in the Staples Center and serves the masses during sporting and music events.

Check out Chef Ludo making a LudoBird sandwich on The Mind of a Chef:


While I have yet to have met Chef Ludo in the flesh, he has graciously hosted Darcy and I at Chez Maggy. I was able to work with Chef Ludo’s PR firm and sent a list of questions via email. You can read the e-interview at the end of this story.

When we arrived at the Thompson Hotel, we valeted our car and entered an enormous lobby. To our right was an immense bar, crowded with business types that were most likely hotel guests entertaining clients. Traveling further into the lobby, you come upon Chez Maggy. The restaurant space is long and narrow, appointed with elegant art and unique pieces that hold special meaning to Chef Ludo. We passed Denver’s 31-year foodie radio veteran, Pat Miller, also known as “The Gabby Gourmet,” on our way to our table. Seeing her there made us even more excited for our meal.

Our host sat us down in the back of the restaurant, where we could taste a sampling of dishes and take photographs without disturbing the other guests. Corporate managers and a local marketing manager stopped by to welcome us.

We were handed a large, colorful 11” x17” menu printed on cardstock. The first page illustrated Chef Ludo clad in a chef’s coat with cowboy boots and hat, kneeling next to a dog and a giant, plated, cowboy-cut steak. My first thought was that this massive use of paper for the menu might be illegal if the restaurant was based in Boulder (for it breaks eco-friendly practices). However, I was elated that I did not have to struggle with a QR code on my iPhone!


We ordered cocktails first.

Darcy ordered a Negroni for $15, which featured Sipsmith Gin, Campari, Volume Primo Vermouth. I decided to order the restaurant’s signature Yellow cocktail for $15. The cocktail was superb with great flavor. It featured Beefeater Gin, Suze, Yellow Chartreuse, lemon, and thyme.

The menu was chock-full of delectable items, making it challenging to choose what we wanted to taste first. Darcy asked our waiter to bring us two glasses of Provence Rosé and ordered our first five items.

Les Entrees

Belgian Endive Salad $15

Apple, Horseradish, Marcona Almond, Stilton Cheese, Breadcrumbs

Notes: Very fresh, bold with a remarkable texture

Bison Tartare $23

Cured Egg Yolk, Cornichon, Potato Chips

Notes: Spicy paprika, house-made potato chips, lovely garlic oil

Pâté Campagne $17

Cornichon, Pistachio, Country Toast

Notes: A true classic

Escargot $19

Garlic, Butter, Parsley, Piment d’Espelette

Notes: Traditional garlic butter taste with a mild Basque pepper finish

Onion Soup Gratinée $ 17

Veal broth, Crouton, Gruyere

Notes: A quick flight to Paris, gorgeous cheese finish

Steak Frites

8oz Tenderloin Filet $49

Sauce Aux Poivres

Notes: Darcy ordered this very rare, Chez Maggy did not disappoint! Cooked perfectly, lovely, velvety peppercorn sauce

Les Plats

Mussels Frites $26

Vadouvan Curry, Shallot, White Wine Broth, Crème Fraiche

Notes: Savory with slight heat and ripe flavors

Duck Breast a l’orange $37

Turnip, Foie Gras, Sorrel

Notes: Duck seared rare, lovely sauce with Foie Gras

Les Desserts

The selection was impressive. We choose these classics:

Vanilla Napoleon $12

Puff Pastry, Diplomat Crème

Notes: Multi-stories piled high with luscious buttery cream

Crepes Suzette $13

Grand Marnier, Orange, Butter

Notes: Tangy citrus flavors


Wine List:

Chez Maggy’s wine list is surprisingly not solely comprised of French labels. The list also includes bottles from Italy, Spain, California, and Washington. I also noticed that the wine list is filled with a decent number of value-priced wines, averaging $55 to $79.


Chez Maggy is a keeper. It serves delicious, authentic, fine French cuisine. The prices are not cheap, and it seems like more restaurants nowadays are passing the higher costs for ingredients onto their customers. However, the true value is the quality of the food, and Chez Maggy does not disappoint. Run, don’t walk. It’s time to visit Denver’s best French restaurant!

Chez Maggy

Thompson Hotel Denver

1616 Market Street Denver, Colorado 80202

Tel 720 794-9544



Interview with Chef Ludo Lefebvre

Wine Country International® Magazine Publisher and Editorial Director, Christopher J. Davies presented the following questions to Chef Ludo via his publicist. Here is the full interview.

Q: WCI/Davies

Several culinary greats, like Chef Charlie Palmer and American restauranteur Jeffrey Chodorow, have set up stakes in Denver, declaring failure in less than one year after not generating satisfactory business results. Considering how difficult the restaurant industry has become since the pandemic, how are things going for Chez Maggy?

A: Chef Ludo

Denver is the hometown of my wife, and we really feel like it is our second home. Chez Maggy is extremely personal to us as a family, and we work every day to ensure our guests understand that I am not just an out-of-town chef in the Mile High City. Things are going well so far. I am really proud and thankful to the effort of the team on the ground. I spend a week there every month in the kitchen and working on a connection with the local community.

Q: WCI/Davies

What are some of your favorite ingredients that are unique in Colorado?

A: Chef Ludo

Since 2011, when Krissy & I did our pop-up “LudoBites” at Biker Jim’s in Denver, I have become obsessed with bison. Even got a new tattoo a couple of weeks ago. Back in 2011, I went out and hunted the animal. The LudoBites menu was a complete bison menu using the whole animal. I did not like shooting the animal, but I do enjoy working with the meat. On the menu to date, I have done a bison tartare and bison bourguignon, small

twists on the very French classics. Colorado lamb is also one of the best lambs in the world. I will be adding some new dishes for summer using it.

Q: WCI/Davies

I know that you have a connection to Colorado through your wife and her late mother. Have you sampled the Colorado restaurant scene before opening Chez Maggy? Do you have any favorite restaurants in Colorado?

A: Chef Ludo

Prior to opening Chez Maggy, we spent most of our time with family at home, but we were able to enjoy some meals out. We had a big family Christmas dinner at Frasca in Boulder one year. I became a bit of a sporadic regular at Sushi Den and found a delicious Thai restaurant downtown, Aloy Modern Thai. Lately I have been really enjoying Hop Alley and Tavernetta.

Q: WCI/Davies

Your menu at Chez Maggy has some excellent brasserie dishes. Are you planning to change the menu seasonally?

A: Chef Ludo

Absolutely! The classics will always stay (subject to seasonality), but I love to add new dishes and do specials. Being trained in France, menus always changed seasonally - they must. Not only is it important for the freshness of the dish, but it is my job to teach the chefs that come work with me. I like to inspire and challenge them with new dishes and giving them opportunities to present new dishes to me.

Q: WCI/Davies

I know that you might view Colorado as a land-locked state. Are you considering adding more seafood to the menu in the future?

A: Chef Ludo

Land-locked doesn’t mean you can’t get great seafood, it is about finding great ingredients, that is the job of a

chef, to hunt for the best ingredients possible. We will be adding a sole meuniere very soon and have recently added a bass dish with zucchini, goat cheese and basil oil.

Q: WCI/Davies

I have seen some intriguing episodes on “The Mind of a Chef” with you. The late, great Anthony Bourdain narrated the show. What was your impression of Mr. Bourdain? What do you miss about him?

A: Chef Ludo

Tony was a brilliant man. I had the pleasure of working with him many times. In addition to The Mind of a Chef, No Reservations, and The Layover, we did three seasons of The Taste together, plus one season in London. We had many great times. I miss what everyone misses, his insights, his intelligence, his view of the world. On a personal level I miss the meals we shared together and the conversations that come from them. I do wonder what he would have to say about the state of our current world.

Q: WCI/Davies

I have not had the pleasure of tasting your take on fast food. Your LudoBird concept looks mouthwatering. Do you have any plans to open a LudoBird in Colorado?

A: Chef Ludo

I would love to open LudoBird in Denver. I have not officially started exploring the opportunity, but never say never.

Q: WCI/Davies

Since you are a native of Burgundy, do you have any plans for hosting Burgundy themed wine dinners in the future?

A: Chef Ludo

Funny you ask. I have a couple of friends that are master sommeliers, and we were just discussing doing exactly this. We will definitely keep you posted!






and Complicated

I love a good comeback story and I always root for the underdog, so it should be no surprise that I, like many others, am enamored with Viognier (pronounced veeohn-yay). This seductive white grape has a complicated history and almost became extinct, but it has bounced back and become a favorite amongst winemakers. It is challenging to grow and even harder to craft into a well-balanced wine. Hard work pays off, creating a beguiling and enchanting wine with intense aromas of honeysuckle, peaches, and tangerine. Usually made as a single-varietal, Viognier also plays well with others, and this exceptional grape can enhance some of the world’s most extraordinary blends.

Viognier was born in Condrieu and still thrives in the Northern Rhone region of France, where it is the only grape variety permitted for that appellation. The smaller appellation of Chateau Grillet, which sits within Condrieu, arguably produces the most outstanding Viognier wines ever made. But the Viognier story was no fairy tale; by the 1960s, this once-thriving grape had become all but extinct. Demand had dropped, and the grape itself was hard to maintain on the steep slopes of the Rhone River. With the help of some forward-thinking winemakers worldwide, Viognier now flourishes once again in the Northern Rhone and southern France. It has also found its way to the new world in South Africa, Australia, Washington State, Virginia, and California.

Viognier thrives in climates with long warm growing seasons to allow the grape time to ripen, moderated by cool nights or breezes to maintain its precious acidity. It takes a great deal of time and dedication to successfully nurture Viognier, as it is unpredictable, prone to disease, and susceptible to spring frosts. This finicky little grape is unlike most white grape varieties because of its low acidity and thick skins that create natural tannins in the wine. Maintaining the grape’s precious acidity and tropical fruit flavors takes a deft hand. A skillful winemaker can transform Viognier into exquisite wines ranging from dry, crisp aperitifs to unctuously sweet, botrytiskissed dessert wines.

Like most aromatic white wines, Viognier pairs well with moderately spicy dishes, such as Pad Thai. It can easily match the fattiness of grilled salmon or seafood in cream sauce. The classic Viognier pairing is shellfish in any form; beware of any dish with too much acid as it will overwhelm the moderate acidity in the wine. I love to pair Viognier with one of my favorite classic Jacques Pépin recipes, “Scallops in Scallion Nests.” The sweet brown crust on the scallops, the oniony punch from the scallions, and the tangy mustard sauce combine beautifully to enhance the wine’s creaminess and fruit flavors.


Scallops In Scallion Nests

Serves 4 as a first course)

Essential Pépin

(With permission from Chef Jacques Pépin)

4 bunches small scallions (6 – 8 scallions per bunch)

1 cup water


1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tsp reserved scallion cooking juices (from above)

12 very large scallops (about 1lb), washed, tough muscles removed and patted dry

2 teaspoon olive oil

½ teaspoon paprika

For the scallions: Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions and about 2 inches of the green ends, as well as any damaged leaves. Wash the scallions thoroughly.

Bring the water to a boil in a large stainless-steel saucepan. Add the scallions, cover, and boil over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender. Remove the scallions with a slotted spoon and place them on a tray to cool. Reserve 2 teaspoons of the cooking juices for the mustard sauce.

When scallions are cool, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.

For the sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix with a spoon. (Do not worry if the ingredients separate).

For the scallops: Put the scallops in a bowl and mix in the olive oil.

Heat a large, heavy skillet, preferably cast iron or aluminum, until very hot, at least 5 – 6 minutes. Add the scallops and brown for about 1 minute on each side. Set them aside to continue to cook in their own residual heat while you prepare the plates.

Reheat the scallions in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds (or reheat in a pan of boiling water), just long enough to take the chill off. Arrange them on four plates, twisting them to form a circle or “nest.” Place 3 scallops in the center of the nest and coat with mustard sauce. Sprinkle the paprika on top and serve.

Vino Tasting: Viognier

Tasted by the Editors, notes by Elizabeth Woessner

McKahn Family Cellars, 2021 Viognier $40

Catie’s Corner Vineyard- Russian River Valley, Sonoma

Aromas of honeysuckle, dried apricot, and candied pears lead to a delightful citrus and stone fruitfilled palate with a long, complex finish.

AWI 2020 Viognier $20

Valle De Uco, Mendoza, Argentina

Delicate aromas of lemon drops, mint, and red berries introduce a bright palate of lemon, lime, and flint to create a delightful, well-balanced wine.

Left Coast Cellars 2018 Field of Dreams Viognier $25

Willamette Valley, Oregon

You will find gentle aromas of jasmine, melon, and lychee on the nose with a pleasant hint of petrol. The acid-forward palate adds pear drops and a long minerally finish.

AWI 2020 White Blend (Viognier-Sauvignon Blanc) $24

Valle De Uco, Mendoza, Argentina

(70%) Viognier, (30%) Sauvignon Blanc

A super aromatic wine with scents of green apple, grapefruit pith, and honeysuckle. In the mouth,

WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL 18 Vol. 1 2023 Rare Japanese Whisky, Delivered Worldwide Shop Online For Over 2,000 Bottles You Won’t Find Anywhere Else

AMA Waterways

River Cruises For Wine Lovers

7- Night Cruise “Colors of Provence”

From romantic cities to foodie havens and artistic epicenters, this itinerary enlivens all your senses. Embark in Lyon, France’s culinary capital, and enjoy an evening illumination cruise. Savor the beauty of legendary vineyards and imbibe in local vintages like Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône. You can even become an expert in all things culinary: go in search of the highly prized “Black Diamond” truffles; learn how to pair chocolate with wine; and discover how olives turn into the Mediterranean’s nectar, olive oil. Trace the steps of famous artists in Arles and Carriéres de Lumiéres before your return flight home.

More Info:

Casa de Uco Vineyards & Wine Resort

Mendoza, Argentina

Situated on 320 hectares of fertile land in the heart of the Uco Valley, the architecture seems to emerge from the encircling geography, as it is inspired by the topography and exceptional natural resources of the Uco Valley, in Argentina’s Mendoza province.

At the soul of our inviting common areas are the Wine Bar & Lounge, award-winning restaurant, game room, lush living room complete with wood-fire chimney, and outdoor dining spaces with open views of the mountains and vineyards. At the foundation of the resort, the underground wine cellar stores an impressive selection of the best wines in the region.

Casa de Uco Vineyards & Wine Resort is a project conceived and created by the world-renowned architecture firm Alberto Tonconogy & Associates.

More Info

Castello Banfi Wine Resort


Tuscany, Italy

Our family is passionately dedicated to the Pursuit of Excellence in making the prestigious wines of Montalcino as well as our hospitality offerings at Castello Banfi, the historic fortress that crowns our estate, an elegant setting for vacations, celebrations, special events or a day visit.

Surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, Castello Banfi Il Borgo is ideal for enjoying the comfortable tranquility of the Tuscan countryside and helping to intensely discover a more authentic Tuscany.

More Info




Darcy and I had never visited Madrid, so going there was exciting. As it turned out, Spain’s capital city was the perfect starting point for our excursions to Rueda and Ribera del Duero in the north. Madrid is located dead center in the middle of Spain. It is Spain’s largest city, with 3.3 million inhabitants and 6 million people, counting the surrounding suburbs. We arrived, took a taxi from the airport to downtown Madrid and checked into the hotel

Story by Christopher J Davies, Photos by Christopher J Davies and Darcy R Davies

Pestana CR7 Gran Via. The hotel was centrally located and modern, with a beautiful rooftop deck with a wading pool, bar, and pizza restaurant. It was a great spot for enjoying a glass of wine with a platter of Jamón ibérico. Our room was a spacious Superior King room with a balcony

(233 E per night) overlooking the busy Gran Via shopping district. The friendly staff made our visit to Madrid extra special!

On the first day, we strolled about a mile to the Mercado de San Miguel in the center of town. The Mercado has about twenty stalls with tapas, fresh seafood, meats, and bars. It is very modern but compact in size, with limited seating.

Photos above of Mercado de San Migue


Where to Eat:

Restaurant La Casa Gallega

is a fantastic seafood restaurant showcasing ultra-fresh fish and shellfish from Galicia. The interior has authentic Gallaecian ceramic tiles with dark wood trim on the walls. A large tank showcases live lobsters and octopuses. Their garlic prawns and grilled scallops are to die for and the wines are reasonably priced.

Restaurant El Senador

This old-school Madrid classic specializes in the region’s popular meat dishes. The wine list featured reasonably priced bottles from Ribera del Douro, like Christabel. We tried the fresh tomato salad, Cochinillo Asado, Lamb Roast, and the Racion De Cordero, Roast Suckling Pig. For dessert, we shared a scratch-baked Apple Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream.


Is a mushroom-themed restaurant down the street from the Mercado de San Miguel. It is a small and historic place that takes up space in a former jailhouse. The restaurant’s philosophy is to be dedicated to eating well, singing, and enjoying our wine and culture in such a piece of Madrid’s history. We tried the mushroom stuffed with chorizo, mini chorizo sausages, Padrón peppers, and Croquetas de Jamón.

Mesón del Champiñón”

Where to Drink: La Torre del Oro

This quirky bar is near Plaza de Mayor. It is dedicated to all things “bull” and is a shrine to bull fighters that lost their battle. It is a small and narrow place with some outdoor space. If you go inside and sit at the bar, order a glass of wine or a cocktail and the bartenders will start delivering you complimentary tapas. Sorry no website!




Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia

A world-class museum where you can view artist works from Pablo Picasso and his contemporaries.




Segovia and its aqueduct were registered as World Heritage sites in 1985. It is a walled-in city atop a hill with an ancient stone aqueduct system elevated overhead. The aqueduct was built by Romans in 1008 to bring water from springs in the mountains, seventeen miles to the town. Amazingly it stayed in operation until 1973. It is a truly spectacular site and an engineering marvel. This world-famous structure is comprised of 166 arches. Segovia also has many buildings dating back to the Late Middle Ages (11th and 12th centuries) and the Renaissance (16th century).

We departed from Madrid in a taxi that was ordered by the front desk manager at our hotel. Originally, we planned to take the high-speed train but had to consider how much luggage and camera bags we were taking with us. Our hotel negotiated a flat rate of 100 euros, which was lower than the cost of train tickets.

The drive out of Madrid Central led to a modern high-speed highway. Darcy and I arrived at our hotel in just one hour. Our hotel was located about a ten-minute taxi ride outside the walled-in city. .

Photography tips:

Great photos need ideal lighting. Typically, the light at sunrise is the best. On my second morning in Segovia, I woke up at 5:30 am and gathered my cameras and tripod. I ask the front desk to call me a taxi. I had the taxi drop me off at the foot of the aqueduct near the main taxi stand. After surveying the area and looking for great spots to photograph the aqueduct, I decided to walk up the hilly road to the ancient, historic center of town. I searched side streets once I sensed that I climbed above the aqueduct. I found a spot that had a carved-out area for viewing the aqueduct. By the time I reached the viewing the sun had risen and there was a wonderful ambercolored light illuminating the aqueduct. The tripod was a crucial tool to stabilize my camera.


Where to Stay:

Parador de Segovia

This 4-star resort hotel is located three kilometers away from the historic center of Segovia.

The hotel is spacious with a terrific view of the historic city skyline. Our standard twin room was upgraded with a King bed and outdoor patio overlooking the historic city. Cost per night €148.

The hotel had spacious grounds and a large outdoor swimming pool. There was no gym or exercise equipment onsite. In the mornings I would take a long walk down the hill road leading down the main avenue leading to The hotel’s restaurant showcased true Segovia fare like:

• Cecina, Cantimpalos chorizo, Iberian ham, Monte Enebro cheese, and Escalona cheese- Small €8, Large €15

• Castilian garlic soup with roasted egg €14

• Cod and orange croquettes with spiced tomato (6-10 units) €8, €15

• Segovian suckling pig M.G. roasted in our oak wood oven * €29

Parador de Segovia

Carretera de Valladolid, s/n 40003 Segovia


Where to Eat:

There are several great restaurants in the historic city center. The most famous and adored is:

Jose Maria Restaurante

This iconic restaurant opened in 1982 and it has developed a serious reputation for its Segovia cuisine. Today the restaurant is run by José María Ruiz and his daughter Rocío.

Their specialty is Roast Suckling Pig. In 2018, they purchased their own farm Agrocorte Gourmet’ controlling all the steps to ensure that they were serving the best quality piglets in their restaurant. While the restaurant looks small from the front, they have eight different dining rooms.

José María Ruiz is also a professional Sommelier. The restaurant has an extensive wine list and amazing cellar that is visible from the dining room.

Top Dishes:

• Conchinillo: Suckling Pig Roasted in a Traditional Oven €29.50

• Roasted Suckling Lamp Chops with Fries €29.00

• Beef Sirloin with Foie Gras and Port wine sauce €30.00

Grilled Octopus with Paprika from La Vera, with Olive Oil €30.00

• Appetizer “Special” Sauteed Sweetbreads

The waiters at Jose Maria are true showmen, especially when it comes to plating the Suckling Pig after it is out of the traditional oven. Watching them slice the cooked pig with a plate, gives me vibes from “The Menu” movie.


Calle Cronista Lecea, 11

40001 Segovia

There are tons of attractions and activities to do in Segovia. When I was having coffee on our hotel outdoor patio, a hot air balloon graced the skies above.

For a list of things to visit: provincial-capitals/segovia


Feature : Rueda

Photos: Sunset in Rueda, Spain

Rueda is one of Spain’s only designated white wine regions.

Today the region produces more than 40% of Spain’s white wine production. The region was granted official status by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture on January 12, 1980, making Rueda the first official wine appellation in Castilla y León. Today the Rueda D.O oversees the regulations that maintain quality wine growing production for the region.

The production area established by the Rueda appellation is in the Castilla y León region and is made up of 74 municipalities: 53 in the south of the Valladolid province, 17 in western Segovia, and four in northern Ávila.

We were honored to be hosted by the Marketing and Communications team as well as the Director of the Rueda D.O for exclusive tastings, delectable meals, and a rare late night harvest experience.

The primary grape Verdejo is native to the region. Sauvignon is second in popularity.

Other white grapes include Viura, Palomino Fino, Viognier, and Chardonnay.

The D.O is best known for white wines (still and sparkling) but also authorizes red grape varieties. The main red is Tempranillo, but other grapes permitted include Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

The region is also producing still, and sparkling rosé wines made from at least 51% of the authorized red grape varietals.

During our visit to Madrid, we found many Rueda wines on the restaurant wine lists as well as in grocery stores. In the region, there was tremendous support for the locally produced Rueda wines.

Rueda Quick Facts:

• Hectares of Grapes Planted: 20,724 (51,210 acres)

• Percentage white grapes vs red grapes: 99.56% White, 0.43% Red

• Percentage of Verdejo grapes, versus total white wines: 88%

• Bottles of Rueda wine produced per year: 110 million bottles (1.833 million six bottle cases)

• Rueda’s production of white wine versus all white wines in Spain: 41.8%

Visiting Rueda:

The communication manager at the Rueda DO put together a spectacular itinerary for our visit to the region.

Our transportation company was Viajes El Corte Ingles, and our driver Nuria was outstanding and spoke English.

•Bodegas y Vinedos Shaya, part of Gil Family


Feature : Rueda


Bodegas y Vinedos Shaya, part of Gil Family Vineyards

Our first visit of the day brought us to a bustling winery in the deep workings of harvest. Winemaker, Andrés Monsalve hosted us for a tour of the vineyards with ungrafted bush wines.

The 2022 growing season had been dryer than in previous years. Still, the long roots of the Verdejo bush vines could reach water and provide moisture to the grapes.Shaya is part of Gil Family Vineyard, a wine company established in 2008, with eleven wineries throughout Spain.

Wines Tasted:

Honoro Vera Blanco 2021 Verdejo **** ½ $9.99

100% Organic Verdejo, aged in stainless steel tanks. Screw cap closure. Yellow straw, scents of apple and stone fruit. Flavors of old peach and ripe apples.

Arinda Verdejo 2021 **** ½ $11.99

Light straw, subtle with great acidity and medium finish. Screw cap closure.

Shaya 2021 Verdejo ***** $14.99

100% Verdejo sourced from grapes grown on 70-120 vines. Straw /gold. Caramel flavors, well balanced with a long finish. Screw cap closure.

Shaya Habis 2019 ***** $30.00

It was produced from Verdejo grapes grown on old vines. Barrel fermented in French bariques.

Fresh fruit, apples, pears, peach, and melons. Mature fruit, long fleshy finish. Light gold.

35 WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL Vol. 1 2023 Bodegas y Vinedos

Feature : Rueda


Finca Montepedroso

Finca Montepedroso

This modern winery is in the town of Rueda. It is owned by Familia Martinez Bujanda. The family has five wineries in Spain with topgrowing regions (Rioja, LA Mancha, Rueda, and Castilla).

Finca Montepedroso has 25 hectares dedicated exclusively to Verdejo. Their vineyards range from 7 to 31 years old and are located on a plateau at 750 meters (2,460 feet) high. The vineyards are diversified with three different soil types: Alluvia, Clay, and Silt/ Clay sediment.

We were delighted to meet with Diego Martinez Aroca, Export Director, who hosted us for a Vertical Tasting of Verdejo with a lovely lunch. The lunch was prepared at the winery by the chef-owner of El Foro in Rueda. The lunch featured a salad of fresh local tomatoes, roast suckling pig, and a delectable goat cheesecake with kiwi and peaches.

Wines Tasted:

•Finca Montepedroso Verdejo 2021 ****1/2 $21 100% Verdejo.

It is fermented in stainless steel tanks. Five months over the lees with batonage.

Lemon yellow with a green hue. Clean aromas, fresh flowers, fruits, green apples.

Dry citrus taste with great structure and long finish.

•Finca Montepedroso Verdejo 2017 ****1/2 $25 100% Verdejo.

It is fermented in stainless steel tanks. Five months over the lees with batonage.

Aromas of apricots, peach, lychee, and grapefruit. Velvety taste, dry baked fruit, flinty, anise with great balance. Lemon Gold.

•Finca Montepedroso Verdejo 2015 **** $29 100% Verdejo.

It is fermented in stainless steel tanks, for five months over the lees with batonage.

Aromas of apricots, peach, lychee, and fennel.

Cut hay, smoke, and mineral notes. Great acidity and fruity finish.

•Finca Montepedroso Enoteca 2019 ***** $59

100% Verdejo. Fourteen months were aging in a concrete egg. Lemon yellow color. Very aromatic with intense fennel, nuts, anise, and cut hay.

Velvety, saline, smoked dry fruit with a long mineral finish.

Finca Montepedroso wines are not currently imported into the US. The company is currently actively looking for an importer.


Feature : Rueda


Palacio de Bornos Winery

This large winery started producing wine in 1976. In 1978, they were the first to make sparkling wine in Castilla y León. Today, Palacio de Bornos owns over 300 hectares of vineyards in Rueda, Pollos, and La Seca. These vineyard sites contain a clay-limestone sub-soil below a gravelly top of pebbles providing excellent drainage. Today they produce 5 million bottles of wine per year.

We met with Christian Bungard, Export Director, for a tour and tasting.

Wines Tasted:

•Palacio De Bornos Verdejo 2021 ****1/2 $13-16

100% Verdejo.

Greenish gold straw. Wide bouquet, floral. Scents of dry apples, delicious, lush fruits, apples. One million bottles were made.

•Palacio De Bornos La Caprichosa 2021 ***** $19-24

100% Verdejo with three months of aging on the lees in the barrel. The grapes were grown on bush vines.

Gold straw color. Mineral and stone notes on the nose. Lush and long, elegant finish.

Twenty-five thousand bottles were made.

•Palacio De Bornos Sauvignon Blanc 2021 ****1/2 $13-16 Scents of peach and melon. Gold straw color. Lush tropical fruits, grapefruit, grass, and asparagus.

Great bright wine that is lush with acidity.

Five hundred thousand bottles made. Available with cork or screw cap closures.

•Palacio De Bornos Barrel-Fermented Verdejo 2021 ***** $20

100% Verdejo. They are aged 4-6 months in new French oak. Gold straw color. Perfume, polished scents. Lovely spicey oak and caramel flavor.

Unami flavors of mushrooms and forest floor. This is a different style of Verdejo. hirty thousand bottles were made.

•Palacio De Bornos Brut Sparkling Wine NV ****1/2 (Not available in the US)

100% Verdejo. 9 months traditional méthode champenoise. Golden straw. A very pleasant, low yeast and white flowers.

Later that evening we enjoyed a personal dinner with the Director of the Rueda DO and several winemakers.

Palacio De Bornos
Bornos Winery
Palacio de

Bodegas Rodriquez y Sanzo

We met Javier Rodriquez, Co-Owner, who together with his wife founded their company in 2003. They will celebrate twenty years in business this year. Now their daughter Amaya has joined as a second generation.

Bodegas Rodriquez y Sanzo Verdejo 2021 ****1/2

100% Verdejo. 66% fermented in tanks.

Bodegas Verdeal

Eduardo Poza founded Bodegas Verdeal in 2007. His winery was conceived over his love for Verdejo. Noe Perez, Export Manager joined us for dinner and presented these wines:

Bodegas Verdeal Verdejo 2021 ****1/2 $19

100% Verdejo. Aged in stainless steel and concrete.


Light gold color. Aromas of fennel and fruits. Taste of baked fruit, white flowers, wet stone, slight bitterness. Bright with great balance.

Eighty thousand bottles were made.

Bodegas Rodriquez y Sanzo El Quinto Paraje 2021 ***** $20

100% Verdejo. Fermented in French oak barrels.

Golden yellow color. Fantastic floral scents. Taste of herbs, forest, and faint bitter saltiness.

Twenty-five thousand bottles were produced.

Bodegas Rodriquez y Sanzo Bajo Velo 2020 ****1/2 $35

100% Verdejo grapes from old vines (planted in 1945) in Segovia. Fermented and aged in sherry casks. Gold straw color. Scents of almonds and salt. Lush and fullbodied wine.

Twelve thousand bottles were produced.

Note: This winery also produces red wine from the ancient grape Cinderella.

Bodegas Rodriquez y Sanzo

Pale straw color. Powerful aromas of white flowers. Tastes of dark, dry herbs and fennel.

Long-lasting finish.

Ninety thousand bottles made.

Bodegas Verdeal 500 Flores 2019 ****1/2 $29

100% Verdejo. Aged for 18 months in new oak, with low toast.

Gold straw color. Fresh fruit, green apple, and stone fruit on the nose. Intense dark fruit on the palate. Great tannins.

Three thousand bottles were produced.

Bodegas Verdeal

WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL 40 Vol. 1 2023 Feature : Rueda
Photo of Noe Perez (Bodegas Verdeal), Javier Rodriquez (Rodriquez y Sanzo), Darcy and Christopher Davies, Wine Country International and Santiago Mora Poveda, Director General of the Rueda DO

Rueda Night Harvest

Our timing for visiting Rueda during harvest could not have been better.

We met Santiago Mora Poveda, Director General of the Rueda DO, at One Michelin Star Restaurante Trigo in Valladolid’s bustling, festive city. We were excited about what Chef Victor Martin had planned to serve us.

Santiago decided to give us his summary on Rueda. “This region is North of Africa and Catholic. In the past, this area was known as the capital of Spain. Thirty years ago, we had a saying the best white wines are bad red wines. Today, Rueda enjoys a 41% share of Spain’s white wine production. Rueda’s pivot point was in 2014 when we participated in a blind tasting in New York. Now several producers are trying to introduce white wines that can age”.

After our epic dinner, we walked several blocks to Santiago’s car. It was eleven pm, a perfect time for harvesting grapes in the summer. Santiago drove on dirt roads with miles of vineyards on both sides. In the distance, we could see lights near a row of grape vines.

When he pulled over, we could see a giant monster truck-sized New Holland 9090C Grape Harvester. The Harvester traveled down the rows of vines at fifteen miles per hour, gently shaking the vines and gathering the verdejo grapes for loading into dump trucks. The trucks delivered the grapes to the winery crush pad where the grapes would get sorted, destemmed, and crushed for the wine-making process.


Feature : Rueda


French native Didier Belondrade’s dream was to craft a white wine in the land of Don Quixote. He envisioned creating a Bordeaux-style chateau in Spain. He moved to Nava Del Rey in 1994 to achieve his dreams. In 1996, his first vintage of Belondrade y Lurton aged white wine was released. In 2000, he opened the current winery, a modern building with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking his vines. Today, the winery annually produces 160,000 bottles of premium white and rose wines.

They use cutting-edge winemaking processes like spontaneous fermentation and native yeasts. The company’s foundation supports the arts and holds art exhibitions and musical events at the winery.

We visited Belondrade and met with Didier’s son Jean Belondrade Lurton, Export Sales Manager. Jean gave us a tour and tasting. Later, Didier and his Technical Director and Winemaker, Marta Baquerizo Mesonero-Romanos, stopped by to say hello.

Wines Tasted:

Belondrade y Lurton Organic

Verdejo 2020 *****


Produced from 95% Organic Verdejo and 5 % other varieties. Aged on the lees in French oak barrels.

Golden in color, this Verdejo is slightly smoky with sweet lemon drops, yeast, and marzipan aromas. We found ripe tangerines, melon, almond, and orange pith on the palate with a refreshing finish. One hundred and ten thousand bottles were made.


y Lurton Verdejo 2015 *****


Produced from 95% Organic Verdejo and 5 % other varieties. Aged on the lees in French oak barrels. Yellow/orange color. Aromas of Apricot and Melon. Flavors of candied fruit, bitter, salinity with medium finish. Ninety-five thousand bottles were produced.


Photo Caption: Founder Didier Belondrade, Winemaker Marta Baquerizo Mesonero-Romanos, and Jean Belondrade Lurton
43 WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL Vol. 1 2023 Belondrade

Feature : Rueda


de Alberto

This winery was originally a monastery. Its historic cellars are 350 years old.

The facility outside is large and industrial. The cellars and winery tasting room are built of stone.

When we visited, there was a festival in the nearby town square with the bulls running.

Wines Tasted:

de Alberto Verdejo 2021 Organic ***** $12

100% Organic Verdejo. Aromas of anise, herbs, a white stone. Brilliant straw color with a green hue. Great fruit integration and balance in the mouth.

One hundred and twenty thousand bottles were produced.

de Alberto Verdejo 2019 Sobre Lias ****1/2 $12

100% Verdejo, aged on the lees. Aromas of stone fruits, white fruits, and citrus. Brilliant straw color. It tastes of fresh fruits and saltiness. Three hundred thousand bottles were produced.

de Alberto Edicion Limitada 80 Anniversary 2020 **** $35 Gran Vino Rueda limited edition. It was made with 100% Verdejo, eight months on the lees, and sourced from two unique vineyard plots, aged in concrete eggs.

Light straw color. Intense aromas of fennel with the forest floor. The lush taste of baked apricot pie was well balanced with excellent acidity. Four thousand, two hundred bottles were produced.

de Alberto Edicion Limitada Dorado ****1/2 $50

100% Verdejo Rueda D.O. Oxidated aging outdoors in crystal Demijohns and oak casks using the Solera method.

Bright gold color. Intense fruit aromas and hints of toasted nuts. Long and expressive, with vanilla, coffee, and raisin flavors. Long finish.

de Alberto

Feature : Rueda


Diez Siglos

A relatively young project, Diez Siglos was founded in 2009 by 65 viticulturists. They share a passion for producing the best quality, Verdejo. We visited the modern winery for a delicious tasting of their wines and a delicious lunch with Export Manager Miguel Renedo Hidalgo and winemaker Laura Rubio.

Wines Tasted:

Diez Siglos Nekora 2021 Sauvignon Blanc ***** $16

100% Sauvignon Blanc grown at 750 meters (2,460 feet) altitude.

Pale yellow. Floral bouquet, exotic fruit aromas. It tastes of tart fruits, and herbs with a long finish.

Diez Siglos Organic 2021 Verdejo ****1/2 $18

100% Verdejo was grown at 750 meters (2,460 feet) altitude.

Straw color. Aromas of green apple and tropical fruit.

Tastes of salty tropical fruits with fennel and anise—great full mouth and acidity.

Diez Siglos Momento 2020 ****1/2 $18

Gran Vino Rueda.

100% Verdejo sourced from 46-year-old vines, fermented in French Oak and Stainless Steel.

Bright yellow/ gold.

Aromas of peaches and minerals. Salty baked peach and pears in the mouth.

Diez Siglos Fermented in Barrels 2018 ***** $22

100% Verdejo fermented for eight months in new French oak barrels.

Bright yellow. Aromas of hay, stone fruit, and apples. Intense flavors of baked peaches and fruitwood. This wine is not imported into the US.

Laura Rubio, the oenologist, states, “these white wines have a shelf life of 5 to 10 years”.

Diez Siglos

Diez Siglos
Top photo: Laura Rubio

Feature : Rueda

Bodegas José Pariente

Their roots date back to 1960 when vine grower and winemaker José Pariente started the company. Today his daughter Victoria follows her father as a winemaker. Her daughter Martina and son Ignacio follow as the third generation to continue the tradition of focusing on excellence.

We visited the winery for a tour and tasting. It is a modern facility incorporating new technology like concrete eggs, with a great tasting room, library cellar, and rooftop deck ideal for hosting wine tastings and events.

Wines Tasted:

José Pariente Verdejo 2021 ***** $20

100% Verdejo. Straw gold color. The wine is packed with floral, perfume, and stone fruit aromas. Flavors of baked apricot and minerals. Medium finish. Eight hundred and twenty thousand bottles were produced.

José Pariente Sauvignon Blanc 2021 ****1/2 $20

100% Sauvignon Blanc. Pale straw color. Grassy, stone fruit, and white flower aromas. It has flavors of citrus, lime, hay, and dry pepper. One hundred fifty thousand bottles made.

José Pariente Cuvée Especial 2021 ****1/2 $119

100% Verdejo selected from old vines planted in 1938. Fermented in concrete eggs. Light gold color. Aromas of melon and pear. Juicy, silky, fresh fruit with almond and mineral taste. Six thousand, six hundred bottles were produced.

José Pariente Apasionado 2021 ***** $25

100% Sauvignon Blanc selected from high-altitude vineyards at 760 meters (2,500 feet). Sweet dessert wine (.83 grams of sugar). Pale straw color. Grassy, sagebrush aromas. Flavors of elegant fruit, tart apples, but not too sweet. Five hundred (500ml) bottles were produced.

Bodegas José Pariente

Left page

Right page: Ignacio Prieto Pariente and Martina Prieto Pariente

Photo: Victoria Pariente, Martina Prieto Pariente, Ignacio Prieto Pariente

Bodegas José Pariente


Feature : Rueda Alverez y Diez Bodegas

Alverez y Diez Bodegas

The company dates to 1941. In 1977 Mr. Enrique J. de Benito restructured the company for the future. In 1992, sons Juan and Alvaro de Benito succeeded Enrique in moving the company into the 21st century.

Winemaker Pilar Garcia has more than twenty years of experience in the industry; she shares the same vision as owner Juan de Benito. Today the company owns 100 hectares of estate-grown and managed vineyards. They grow Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viura varieties. Pilar stated, “work is no different because I am a woman. Harvest 2022 is generating pressure for Rueda winemakers”.

Wines tasted:

Alverez y Diez Bodegas Mantel Blanco

Verdejo 2021 ****1/2


100 % Verdejo was grown at 770 meters (2,500 feet). Yellow straw color. Aromas of pear, stone fruit, citrus, and minerals. It tastes of lush fruit and tart green apples with a long finish. Two hundred fifty thousand bottles were produced.

Alverez y Diez Bodegas Ermita Veracruz

Verdejo 2021 ****1/2

Straw gold color. Aromas of white flowers. It has flavors of juicy, baked pears and herbs. Twenty thousand bottles were produced.

Alverez y Diez Bodegas Mantel Blanco Barrel

Fermented Verdejo 2021 ****



Light yellow color. Aromas of spice notes, ripe fruit, and oak. It has flavors of complex, juicy, and spicy fruit. Nine thousand bottles were produced.

Alverez y Diez Bodegas Mantel Blanco

Sauvignon Blanc 2021 ***** $19

100 % Sauvignon Blanc grown at 770 meters (2,500 feet). Yellow straw color. Aromas of a floral bouquet, citrus, and minerals. It has flavors of baked pears and apricots with a long finish. One hundred and fifty thousand bottles were produced.

Alverez y Diez Bodegas

Top photo: Pilar Garcia

Javier Sanz Viticultor

This producer has a rich history, tracing back to 150 years ago. The fifth-generation wine producer has approximately 104 hectares of prephylloxera grape vines. They have located some ancient indigenous vines of the grey-colored “Cinderella” varietal in their vineyards. We visited their cool winery tasting room in a former church. Wines tasted:

Javier Sanz Verdejo 2021 ****1/2 $14.99

100% Verdejo was grown on 40-year-old bush vines. Light straw with a green hue. Aromas of flowers, grapefruit, anise, fennel, and minerals. It tastes of a lovely taste of crisp, dry peach and apples. Five hundred thousand bottles were produced.

Javier Sanz Sauvignon Blanc 2021 ****1/2 $14.99

100% Sauvignon Blanc grown on 25-year-old trellis vines. Yellow/gold color. Aromas of lime, grass, and white flowers. Flavors of fresh citrus and tropical flavors. Fifty thousand bottles were produced.

Javier Sanz Viticultor

51 WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL Vol. 1 2023 Javier Sanz Viticultor

Feature : Rueda


El Hilo de Adriana (Bodegas Grupo Yllera)

El Hilo de Adriana (Bodegas Grupo Yllera)

This winery is part of a large and successful wine group called Grupo Yllera. We visited for a tasting and a delicious with their general manager and assistant export manager. The winery has historic underground cellars that are accessible by elevator. During our visit, we learned that the restaurant was in the process of being relaunched by twelve-star Michelin chef Martin Berasategui. While the restaurant was not officially opened, we dined on a fantastic menu:

• Croquettes

• Salad with Avocados

• Roast Partridge

Home-baked bread

• Red shrimp w/ rice

Wines tasted:

Cantosan Brut Nature Sparkling Verdejo NV (Not in the USA) Vines are 25-40 years old. Bottle aging for 24 months. Yellow straw color. Aromas of Green Apple, melon, and lemon zest. It had elegant fine bubbles, ripe fruit, dried fruit, bitter almond, and walnut in the finish.

Yllerra Verdjo 2021 ****1/2 $10

Blend of Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. Grapes were harvested at night. Vines are between 15 to 25 years old. Yellow/ gold color. Aromas of melon and peach. Aromas of baked fruit, white flowers with a great body. Twenty-five thousand bottles were produced.

Yllerra Verdjo Night Harvest 2021 ****1/2 $14

Blend of Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. Grapes were harvested at night. Vineyards are 20 to 30 years old. Cold maceration for 8-12 hours. It was fermented in small barrels. Straw yellow color. Complex aromas of green apples, grapefruit, and lemon zest. It has flavors of baked apples and herbs with a bitter finish. Two hundred thousand bottles were produced.

Yllerra Meraldis Barrel Fermented Verdejo 2021 ***** $30

100% Verdejo sourced from 40-year-old vines. Golden yellow color. Powerful aromas of ripe peach and grapefruit. Taste of elegant butterscotch, wood, and creamy flavors. Full-bodied wine. Seventeen thousand bottles were made.

El Hilo de Adriana (Bodegas Grupo Yllera)

Chef Martin Berasategui html

Bottom right: Montxo Martinez, 4th Generation Winemaker


Feature : Rueda


Bodegas Protos

Protos is an extensive wine conglomerate with five wineries located throughout Spain. Protos means “the first.” Protos Ser Primero is in Peñafiel, a small town in the Valladolid Province. The company was established in 1927 by professionals.

Bodegas Protos is a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional winery; it employs effective use of thermal groundmass, a large flexible warehouse, and construction materials in keeping with the local vernacular. The winery was designed by British architect Graham Stirk. The winery project cost 15 million Euros to build.

We met with their export manager and winemaker. The facility was clean and sterile, with stainless-steel tanks and oak barriques. They are now integrating concrete eggs for fermenting their white wines.

Wines Tasted:

Protos Verdejo 2018 ***** $12.99

100% Verdejo sourced from 15-year-old vines.

Aromas of pineapple, citrus, and apples. Bright yellow straw color. Taste of citrus and green apple.

Two million bottles were produced.

Protos Verdejo Cuvee 2021 ****1/2 $16.00

100% organic Verdejo sourced from young vines and fermented in stainless steel (70%) and concrete eggs (30%). Bright yellow straw color. Aromas of minerality and herbs. Flavors of dry apples and citrus. Long finish with bitter notes. Forty thousand bottles were produced.

Protos Verdejo Riserva 2019 ****1/2 $30.00

100% Verdejo sourced from 25-year-old vines and aged for 17 months in the bottle. Yellow gold color. Powerful aromas of herbs and tropical fruits. Delicious full-volume taste of tropical fruits and herbs with a long finish. Fifteen thousand bottles were produced.

Bodegas Protos

55 WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL Vol. 1 2023 Bodegas Protos

Feature : Rueda

Where to stay: Hotel El Coloquio de los Perros


Zenit El Coloquio de los Perros is a lovely boutique hotel in the center of Valladolid, adjacent to the historic cathedral and the university. When we visited, the city and nearby villages held its Harvest Festival/fair in honor of its patron saint, la Virgen de San Lorenzo. It was the first-time locals and tourists could gather after two years of tight Covid restrictions. The streets were jammed with very people, food stands, and drink vendors.

The hotel offered an escape from the external festivities with its restaurant, bar, and private courtyard. Our room was modern and efficient. (E160-209 w/breakfast)

Hotel Felipe IV (Sercotel Felipe IV)


This business-type hotel is near the train station and Plaza Mayor. There is a cozy bar in the lobby and a restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining options. The rooms have wood floors and satellite television.

Hotel Pesquera AF


We were advised that the tiny town of Peñafiel was a gateway from Rueda to Ribera del Duero.

While that may be a possibility, this is one horse town. If you do not have a car or driver, you can experience boredom in a New York minute.

Hotel Pesquera AF is owned by a famous wine family and offers delicious cuisine and wine.

The rooms are modern and exquisite, with excellent amenities. Our king room was spacious, with a super cool shower and a king bed on the second-level loft. Deluxe room (USD 210).

Hotel El Coloquio de los Perros Hotel Felipe IV (Sercotel Felipe IV) Hotel Pesquera AF

Where to Eat: Valladolid

Restaurante Trigo

We are rarely invited to visit a Michelin one-star restaurant. Santiago Mora Poveda, Director General of the Rueda DO, joined us at Restaurante Trigo. Chef Víctor Martín and his wife, Noemí Martínez, a sommelier, founded the restaurant in 2007.

The eclectic menu was paired with Rueda wines. The dishes were as visually stunning as they were favorable. For starters, the chef served a cube with a Bloody Mary inside. Appetizers included olive oil and cheese. The main courses had cuddle fish, oxtail, and pork. The restaurant offers several tasting menus (E65 to 95). ***** 5 Stars! Amazing Value!

Restaurante Gabi Garcia *****

The chef-owner understands food pairings with local wines. This is the kind of place where the chef does not hand out a menu. He asks about your wine preferences and creates his menu accordingly. The communications assistant from the Rueda D.O and two representatives from

Bodega Herrero and Castello Medina accompanied us at the restaurant.

The featured wines were:

Castello de Medina Sauvignon Blanc 2021

• Bodega Herrero Erre Verdejo 2021

Chef Gabi tasted both wines and suggested that he serve Baked Scallops and Broiled Swordfish with polenta. The pairings were delightful.

Restaurante Gabi Garcia

Chef Victor Martin

Other Attractions


Peñafiel Castle and Wine Museum

This historic fortified castle was built in the eleventh century. It is perched high on a hill and is visible as a landmark throughout the region. Today it is owned by the local council and has a wine museum showcasing the history of the local wine industry. You can visit for tours, including access to the castle rooftop and tower of tribute with expansive views of the valley.


de Duero-Ribera del Duero

We visited this small city, population 33,000, on the Duero River on a Saturday afternoon to attend their annual “Virgen de las Viñas” harvest festival. The town was packed to the rim with locals and tourists, tripling in population, celebrating their freedom from Covid lockdowns. There was music in the streets, parades, and ceremonies, but most eye-catching were the “gigantes y cabezudos,” professional costumed giants, parading throughout the streets.

We ran into a seasoned marching band on a side street called “Los Sobrinos de la Tía Damiana,” which translates to “Aunt Damiana’s Nephews.”

To escape the crowds, we ducked into La Pícara Gastroteca, a fantastic wine bar with enoteca, to enjoy tapas and wines.

WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL JO IN SWE! Become a specialist and enhance your knowledge and career. Certified Specialist of Spirits Test from Home or via Testing Center Study Guides through Amazon Optional Online Course Digital Badges & Certificates Member Discounts Enhancing Spirits and Wine Education Worldwide! SWE

Parting Shots

Ribera del Duero

Our next issue will feature the Ribera del Duero D.O.P (Denominación de Origen Protegida) which was established in 1982 and is young compared to regions like Burgundy. The 2022 harvest was the 40th anniversary of the D.O. With Covid restrictions lifted, this harvest season was filled with mass celebrations and events commemorating this milestone.

This region is all about extreme climates. During the year, they experience dry summers and long, harsh winters (-4 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit). Super talented winemakers work with Tempranillo grown on old vines at high altitudes. The result is bold and balanced world-class red wines.

Jaime Postigo Gomez, CEO & Partner, Bosque De Matasnos

Articles inside


pages 14-17

Parting Shots

page 61

Feature : Rueda

pages 56-60

Feature : Rueda

pages 54-55

El Hilo de Adriana (Bodegas Grupo Yllera) El Hilo de Adriana (Bodegas Grupo Yllera)

page 53

Alverez y Diez Bodegas

pages 50-51

Feature : Rueda Bodegas José Pariente

page 48

Feature : Rueda

pages 46-47

Feature : Rueda

pages 44-45

Feature : Rueda

pages 42-43

Rueda Night Harvest

page 41

Bodegas Rodriquez y Sanzo

page 40

Feature : Rueda

pages 38-39

Finca Montepedroso Finca Montepedroso

page 37

Feature : Rueda

pages 34-35

Feature : Rueda

pages 32-33


pages 26-31


pages 23-24


pages 20-22

Scallops In Scallion Nests

page 17


pages 15-16

Chez Maggy Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s Butter-Filed, French Brasserie touches down

pages 9-13


pages 4-8
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.