Cariñena Travel 101
In September we had the pleasure of hosting a group of five U.S.-based wine trade and media in our region. From traveling back in time through historic tours to discovering the land our wines grow in, join us as we relive our trip. Who knows? It might come in handy for your future travels!
Upon arriving in Zaragoza, we made our way to El Casco Antiguo, the historic center where our hotel, Hotel Alfonso, is located. After travelling for the first part of the day, we finally had our first big meal (one of many) at El Palomeque, feasting on tapas with a modern twist (like deconstructed Korean lasagna), while also enjoying more traditional regional dishes like oxtail. Needless to say, we were pretty full by the end and very much needed a walk to make room for dinner…which brings us to our tour of El Casco Antiguo.
For the next couple of hours, we walked through the pedestrian-friendly streets of this part of town. With the help of a local tour guide we learned about the city’s Roman roots while exploring the Salvador Cathedral, commonly called La Seo, a Roman Catholic cathedral in Zaragoza with a rich religious history from Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Besides the remarkable works of art within the cathedral, it is also one of the most representative pieces of Mudéjar architecture in Aragon—a declared UNESCO World Heritage site. We also got a peek at some frescos by Artist Francisco Goya at the Basílica del Pilar.
After an afternoon full of walking, it’s 9 PM, and in true Spanish fashion, it’s dinner time. At Casa Pedro, we enjoyed a delicious tasting menu paired perfectly with Cariñena wines, while relishing the company of friends, new and old.
After a night full of food and wine, we headed out in the early morning to our first winery of the trip, Bodegas Paniza. Winery representative, Diego Pinedo, started our tour at the Ermita de la Virgen del Águila. This chapel sits upon a hill from which, on a cloudless day, you can see the Pyrenees! Unfortunately for us, it was a cloudy day. We then walked through some of Paniza’s vineyards and saw the harvesting of Garnacha Blanca, all while learning about the vineyards’ sustainability and rabbit woes; the rabbits in this area enjoy eating the grapes and don’t have many natural predators. We also snacked on some freshly picked almonds by the vineyard owner.
(Palacio de la aljaferia)
Lunch was a very local experience at El Paradero where the owner served us local delicacies like Manitas de Puerco (pig feet) and baby lamb ribs that were cooked to perfection. Of course, the local wines paired deliciously with our meal. Next, we made our way to the Palacio de la Aljafería, were once again, we stepped back in time. This is a castle located in Zaragoza, originally built as a fortified medieval Islamic palace during the second half of the 11th century. It is also a declared UNESCO world heritage site and has housed Muslim royalty, Spanish royalty (along with the Inquisition), and in present-day, the Cortes (regional parliament) of Aragon.
(Casa Lac Restaurant)
We finally rested our feet and re-energized for the next day at Casa Lac, a Michelin Guide-recommended restaurant that emphasizes local, seasonal vegetables, like borage, in its dishes. In our next newsletter, we’ll complete our journey and share some of the things our group found surprising during the experience.