Life is good on the Costa Blanca where, away from the golden beaches, there is much to explore in the region’s stunning vineyards.
The Costa Blanca forms part of the Comunitat Valenciana - the Spanish region which includes the wonderful holiday destinations of Valencia and Alicante. Boasting one of the healthiest climates on earth, its eating, drinking and relaxing lifestyle has become a large part of its attraction to visitors, as well as the beautiful beaches on this Spanish coast.
The Costa Blanca is also gaining appeal as a much-loved wine region. In recent years, the grape varieties have improved dramatically and are much more visible than ever before, so it really is a great region to holiday in for those who enjoy their wine and want to learn more about the grapes and the process.
So, if you're looking for some inspiration to make your next holiday booking something really special, why not try something a little different and consider trying some wine tasting tours? Spain is a beautiful country to undertake this journey and you can explore some of the beautiful vineyards in the area, while taking in the stunning Spanish landscape.
The fragrant white Moscatel de la Marina, a dry seco-style apéritif, and the sweet Moscatel, or Muscat, the ideal digestif, are two must-try options when you dine.
For serious wine connoisseurs, or those who just want to escape the beach for a day, here is my guide to local vineyards worth a visit and wines to sample:
A taste of the literary greats
Bodegas Gutiérrez de la Vega names its wines after literary greats. Try its Viña Ulises red with some of the wonderful local lamb. It’s a spicy oak-aged blend of Monastrell and Giró (Garnacha), Monastrell being the main red grape of Alicante and known as Mourvèdre or Mataró. While with dessert, it has to be a glass or two of their lusciously sweet Casta Diva Moscatel.
A fragrant glass
Bodegas Enrique Mendoza produce a wide range of fascinating wines which you can learn about on a guided tour. Its Moscatel de la Marina is richly sweet, but still fresh and lively. Made from Muscat of Alexandria grapes, which have been growing in the region for over 2,000 years, interestingly it’s the only variety that can grow just ten metres away from the sea. Make sure you try the La Tremenda Blanco too. This fragrant and herbal dry white wine is made from the obscure local Merseguera grape.
Big on personality
Originally a Rioja producer, Artadi now makes wine in Alicante too. One of the greatest names in Spanish wine making, Artadi was founded in 1985 by a group of winemakers in the village of Laguardia. Since then, the passion for fabulous wines has allowed its artisans to draw out the personality of wines for Artadi, as well as reflecting their origins.
Monastrell by El Sequé is a beautifully scented wine with rich, dark fruit and balanced oak. During your visit be sure to try the port-like sweet red Monastrell too - it will be worth it.
Wine and dine
Of course you shouldn’t sample wines on an empty stomach. For lunch try one of Calpe Harbour’s many excellent seafood restaurants. This is the ideal place to try one of the famous rice dishes of the region. Paella enjoys worldwide fame, of course, but Arròz a banda is the Alicante equivalent. It's a simple dish of saffron rice cooked in fish stock with a little squid and some shrimp and, while it's less flamboyant than its counterpart, it's still delicious.
After lunch, pay a visit to the nearby Les Fonts de l'Algar waterfalls. The area is stunningly beautiful and a very peaceful place to reflect and soak up the scenery. You can even take a refreshing dip in the water, which will round your trip off perfectly. It really is a beautiful excursion.
While in the Valencia area, you can't possibly leave without exploring the city a little more. It has everything, from stunning architecture and historical buildings, to shopping districts and several interesting museums, so something for everyone.
Visit one of the many squares. The Plaza de la Reina is one of the most beautiful, where people watch the world go by with a glass of wine and some nibbles, before heading to The City of Arts and Sciences.
The museum's futuristic buildings alone are worth the visit, but the museum is full of incredible exhibits and you can while away a good few hours here out of the heat of the day.
Heading inland from Valencia, the small town of Requena is another notable wine region and a beautiful place to get to see 'real' Spain, with lots of traditional restaurants offering delicious dishes. Wine exports include a very high-quality Cava - a sparkling wine made in the same way as Champagne.
You are spoiled for choice here, but here are just a few unique and well-known producers in the area:
The delicious Cavas at Dominio de la Vega have received much praise from international critics. The local specialty grape is Bobal and the Finca la Beata is a rich, fruity and concentrated red wine made from the 100-year-old Bobal vines.
For a quirky vineyard, try Pago de Tharsys, where the top cavas are decorated with a ceramic tile hung from a ribbon around the neck of the bottle. The wines here really are first rate, particularly the Tharsys Unico, a fine white sparkling wine, also made from Bobal grapes. Join a guided tour and learn about the vineyard’s Albariño variety, which is harvested at night in September. Processed like this for many years, it results in a more complex, fruitier and longer-lasting wine.
This beautiful part of the world has a lot of surprises to offer visitors, namely the quality and variety of the wines beyond the traditional Rioja that everyone thinks of when they think of Spanish wines. Make a day of it beyond the beaches and visit a vineyard, or make a whole holiday of it and tour several of the region’s charming vineyards. Bring more to your Spanish holiday experience in these beautiful regions along the Costa Blanca.
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