Contino Blanco 2014 - Cune Barrel Fermented Blanco 2015
There is really only one answer as to whether you fancy a glass or two from Spain’s most famous wine region: “Bring it on!”

Cune have a solid reputation for turning out wines from this region that set a benchmark for how we perceive Rioja. However, the area under vine is vast and the quality levels do vary. Contino’s USP is that they use grapes from specific vineyards. The reds we tasted recently were delicious and the whites are among the best across the sprawling region.

Contino Blanco 2014 gives us some lemon aromas and even a bit of quince, interwoven with soft wood. To taste it has plenty of body and attractive acidity.

For food? This wine could go with so much. I would suggest a caldo Gallego, meaning a Galician broth containing sweet greens, potatos, white beans and fatty pork (though there are many variations). 

Grapes: Viura 85%, White grenache 10%, Malvasia 5%

RRP £25 from Waitrose Cellar

Cune Barrel Fermented Blanco 2015

If the Contino is a little costly then try the lower priced Cune Barrel Fermented Blanco 2015. At £10.49 it’s great value. It doesn’t have the rich body or complexity of the Contino but you get a good impression of the style of white wine coming out of Rioja and its enough to keep you sipping on.

This wine is an ideal picnic wine for white meats or a beautifully cooked cod in the Basque style. 

Grape: 100% Viura

RRP £10.49 from Waitrose Cellar

Winemaker and owner Nicola D’Auria greeted us at the entrance of this fascinating cantina. The winery and cellars have been designed by Rocco valentini in the shape of a vertical barrel in order to immerse the tasters senses in wine.

 

East from Roma to Abruzzo

From Rome we headed east to Abruzzo, a region of Italy that rises up like a burly landlord to greet the traveller. The Apennine mountains at their tops are stark and beautiful, lonely, yet fulsome. Rustic doesn’t quite do this landscape justice. It’s a place for pilgrims, peace lovers and, of course, we followers of Bacchic and gastronomic pleasure.

 

After days of picking grapes in one of the world’s most famous wine regions, the pickers get together to drink, chat and enjoy the drinks they are meticulously involved in the making of. 

Also check out local winemaker, Nico’s, top tip for a white Burgundy from Saint Aubin that you don’t have to travel to Burgundy to get!

 

What started in El Quatre Gats tapas bar in Barcelona, soon became an adventure in the Marche region of Italy, that lies along the east coast facing Albania across the Adriatic Sea. El Quatre Gats is famously where Picasso had his first solo exhibition as a young edgy artists in the Catalan capital and I was there dining with Dr Pia Casarini Wadhams, Director of Italy’s only Polar Institute, Il Polo.

 

The Palazzo is located in the centre of Fermo, a small Roman hilltop town with a rich history dating back to antiquity. Flying from abroad, Ancona is the closest airport, 67km north (about an hours drive) along the coast of the Adriatic sea.