Sometimes I work as a escort guide for day trips. It is always a pleasure to go with different groups to different towns because for me this is the perfect way to disconnect a little bit from the daily work as a tour guide in Seville and also to discover new places.
Some weeks ago the travel agencies Spain Top and Really Discover organized a winery tour for a family from New York and they asked me to be their escort guide. The first day consisted on exploring the area of the famous sherry wine in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and the second day to discover some Andalusian red wines in Arcos de la Frontera, both towns in the province of Cadiz.
Sanlúcar de Barrameda is located in the mouth of Guadalquivir river and it looks across to the Doñana National Park and out on to the Atlantic Ocean. It is unknown to the majority of foreign visitors and so it maintains more of its local flavor than many coastal towns. It is the second most important sherry town. Among the many styles of sherry wine produced here, manzanilla stands out as a style of sherry made in a similar way to fino but lighter, often with a salty touch to it. The winery we visited was La Gitana, founded in 1972, where we tasted manzanilla directly from the barrel (“en rama”) and other sherry wines like fino, amontillao, oloroso and pedro ximénez. In that order wines go from bitter to sweeter and clearer to darker. As I like very dry wines, my favourites are always manzanilla and fino, but all of them are delicious.
Sanlucar is also known for its very fine seafood: langoustines, salt-cured tuna, fine fried fish, sea food and rice stew, oven-baked fish, etc.; and they marry perfectly with the finest manzanilla. Many seafood restaurants are located along the bank of the Guadalquivir estuary, in the street called Portico de Bajo Guía. The area was originally a town of fishermen and now it has turned into a street in the coastline full of seafood restaurantas. It is also the place which holds the horse races every August.
We have been in Casa Bigote where the we enjoyed a lot. Langoustines and tuna where the appetizers and the rice, served served as main dish, were gorgeous. I would totally recommend this place because the food and the service are very nice and specially for the views towards the estuary and Doñana Park. Walking along the beach was the perfect way to have a good digestion.
The second place we went to was Arcos de la Frontera. It is one of the most dramatic and beautiful of the famous pueblos blancos or “white towns”, being situated on a rocky limestone ridge with a sheer cliff face that plunges down into the valley below. We walked around the townʼs amazing streets and squares, taking in the breathtaking views from the cliff edge.
Pic from sorostravel.com
Lunch was in the restaurant and bar La Cárcel. The menu included a great variety of dishes: Iberian ham, cheese, tuna, shrimps, pork sirloin and traditional desserts among other things that I cannot remember because it was too much! My clients even asked if it was possible to stop the waiters from bringing more food to our table. They could not eat more. Everything was really good and very tasty.
However, we first went to the winery Huerta de Albalá. It is a little way past the town and one of the most impressive wineries that has appeared in Andalusia in recent times. The beautifully designed winery is surrounded by 75 hectares of vines and the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema form a backdrop making this a place of incredible beauty. Up to now, it is the most beautiful winery I have ever seen. The philosophy of the winery is to make wine of the highest quality that will be able to compete with top wines from other parts of Spain, like Rioja and Ribera del Duero, and the rest of the world. Their red wines are, in general, violet and very profound in colour, a plethora of aromas, always clean, maintaining respect between fruit and oak. We tasted barbazul, barbazul blanco and taberner nº1. Taberner was my favourite, more complex in flavour than barbazul and it has, in my opinion, a little bit of blueberry taste. It is intense in the mouth but not too much acidity in the throat, something that I love in red wines.
It was a high pleasure to go to these places. In days like these I really love my job more than ever. Hope I will be hired for more original and gorgeous activities in the future.