From Wine to Wine
THERE ARE SEVERAL ROUTES THAT LEAD TO THE PLAZA DE OBRADOIRO, AND MANY OF THEM ARE MARKED BY THE AROMA AND FLAVOR OF THIS DRINK
It is well known that traipsing down any of the routes that lead to the tomb of Apostle Santiago is an infinite experience every step of the way. For many, it stands for a journey marked by spirituality; for others, it is a huge physical challenge. Either way, the route offers an unbeatable opportunity to carry –together with the essential victuals and the beauty of the landscapes- the history and vast traditions of territories where good eating and drinking are almost mandatory.
From the same starting point, those who venture out to walk down the route to the mythical Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela will be exposed to the temptation that involves crossing extensive vineyards, birthplaces for centuries of some of the world's finest wines.
From the very discovery of the relics of the Apostle, the first pilgrims became responsible, to a certain extent, for such enological richness. Many from every nook and cranny of the globe brought with them strains of grapes that in time have favored the great variety of wines found along the journey, either by hitting the North Road, the Primitive Way, the Winter Path, the Sea or the Via de la Plata (Silver Way).
However, none of these routes would bring as much joy to good wine lovers as the French Way. The passage through territories with marked climatic differences, such as Aragon, Navarra, La Rioja, Castile and Leon or Galicia, gives the opportunity to taste several wines worthy of an Appellation of Origin (AO), capable of satisfying the most demanding patrons.
Once in Jaca –the end of a journey that started in St. PIed de Port, Roncesvalles or Somport- the pilgrim will be able to taste the delicious Somontano, which means “at the foot of the mountain”. It is born in privileged vineyards nestled right between the Ebro river valley and the Pyrenees. What's more, this is one of the more than 70 AOs that currently exist in Spain.
In Navarra, it is almost impossible to pass up the town of Ayegui, where in one of the walls of Bodegas Irache, the famous fountain provides pilgrims with the chance to quench their thirst with the wine that comes out of one of the faucets.
The next destination would be Logroño, the capital of La Rioja and home to numerous vineyards and emblematic wineries that, together with those of Priorat, in Catalonia, make up the only two Qualified AOs –they must comply with stricter standards- found in Spain.
There's no better way to continue the extraordinary experience than by covering the stages that run through Castile and Leon. Ribera del Duero has been located there for more than three decades, an AO that covers the areas of Soria, Burgos, Segovia and Valladolid, and whose number of world-class wineries has never stopped growing. Not far from that region, you can find others, such as Rueda y Toro, while on the banks of the Sil river stands the famous Bierzo, with its Mencia vines, the main variety next to the Godello grapes.
In Galicia, each and every day trip until arriving at the Plaza de Obradoiro is an invitation to celebrate the last road stretches with Galician wines, mainly the whites obtained from the Albariño grape.
From O Cebreiro to the city of Santiago de Compostela, passing through Palas de Rei and Arzúa, there are five AOs, and it would be sinful to ignore any of them, such as the Ribeiro, which is located at the junction of the valleys bathed by the Miño, Avia, Arnaia and Berbantiño rivers. Rías Baixas or Ribeira Sacra… well, that would be a deluxe close for the spirit, the body... and the mouth.