It’s not often that one gets up at 6 a.m. to go wine tasting but when the tasting is to be in Valdepeñas in La Mancha that was exactly what twenty eight members of the Moraira-Teulada U3A Wine Tasting Group found themselves doing at the end of September. Dawn was breaking as we boarded our coach in Moraira and began the journey to our destination in the expert hands of our driver, Pepe.
After a couple of stops for coffee etc. we arrived in Valdepeñas at about 1.30. Unexpected road works hampered the final approach to our hotel and we ultimately covered the final stretch on foot. Once settled in, we repaired to the very pleasant bar opposite for some welcome refreshment and to rendezvous with our hosts, Domingo and Franco, from the Corcovo Bodega. They are old friends of the group, being regular visitors to the monthly meetings with their superb wines.
We then had a few hours to acquaint ourselves with the city and snatch a bit of shut-eye before reporting once more to the bar for a pre-prandial libation. Having expected to sit down to eat in a local restaurant at about 8 p.m. there was a bit of a delay before we finally found ourselves seated on the first floor of a delightful restaurant in the main square of the city at about 9 p.m. and the meal began. After partaking of the very delicious dinner which will long be remembered by all those present it must have been about midnight when the first people decided to retire and apparently about 4 a.m. before the party finally broke up. A very good time was had by all.
The following morning we set off, not too bright but thankfully not too early either, and made our way to the charming little village of San Carlos del Valle where we spent a most pleasant couple of hours investigating the sensational main square and its small streets before re-boarding the coach for the short run to the Corcovo Bodega.
Once inside, Domingo and Franco awaited us and were our guides through the various aspects of wine production, all very interesting and instructive. Some of the party did not dare to venture down the steep and uneven steps into the darkness of the Cueva where the wine is ultimately stored but waited anxiously at the top until the intrepid members of the party who had been brave made the ascent into the light once more.
Then it was time for the main event – the wine tasting! We all sat at a long table, laid with glasses, water, nibbles, tasting notes and silver containers to take any unwanted dregs and tasted four excellent wines – two whites and two reds – before being invited to retire for a short time while a buffet was prepared. During this interlude we were able to place our orders for the wines we had tasted during the afternoon or, indeed, any of the bodega’s wines which we had sampled during our stay in Valdepeñas. That done, we fell upon the glorious buffet and drank more wine – as it turned out thirty one bottles of it amongst the thirty one people present. Amazingly enough, the stroll back to the coach was very orderly and nobody appeared to stagger. The wines we had ordered were then loaded into the coach and we took our leave, arriving back at the Hotel Central at about 7 p.m.
The next morning we bade farewell to the very comfortable hotel which had been our home for two nights and set off on the drive back to the Costa Blanca, stopping briefly en route at a very pretty lakeside resort in Ruidera where several members had rather large brandies – to ward off the slight nip in the air, you understand!
We arrived back at Moraira at about 6 p.m having spent a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. All those who were on the excursion wish to extend to Pat and Brian Clarke, who organised it all so efficiently, their warmest thanks for a really great trip.
Here’s to the next time and ‘bottoms up’! (an ‘in’ joke with the accent on the ‘in’).
Our thanks go to Rosemary Sheppard, who celebrated her 70th birthday that weekend, for writing this great review and to John Snell for the following photos that depict such a wonderful weekend.