Palacio Samaniego

You could not create a luxury hotel like this if you did not have funds of the Rothschilds behind your venture. It is very descrete, and you have to walk up to the front door to check that this is your hotel.

This is an old Palacio, which has been meticulously converted into a 9 room hotel. No expense has been spared. Our bedroom was elegant and comfortable. The bathroom was suberb.

The restaurant served us an interesting tasting menu ar dinner. And the service was (mainly) good. They are still trainng staff, but that did not impinge on our enjoyment

Breakfast was adequate, but probably should be better in a hotel of this quality (and price). Covid means that they serve your meal to the table (no buffet), but the items served are limited. The York ham was "wet" and the jamon serrano was not top quality. Coffee was cold.

The staff were very good, and extremely helpful. Reception organised a couple of tasting for us in local wineries. A tip for clients of the hotel would be to get them to organise in advance, so you can get visits when and where you want

There is a small pool in the garden

My overall opinon is that this hotel is one of the nicest we have ever stayed at. It clearly aims to be the best in Rioja, and prices will no doubt go up next year.

 

I had not been quick enough off the mark to get 3 wine tastings at Samaniego, so had so settle for two in the afternoon. So with the spare morning we motored the short distance to La Guardia. We had stayed in the town before, but had had problems with the hotel that we had used.

It is a picturesque town, with little in the way of tourist shops. Given Covid, there were not many other tourists about. By luck we happened to pass the main square at noon, when the town clock puts on interesting (but not very spectacular) display of dancers - a complete busload of tourists made up the bulk of the audience

 

Bai Gorri

I have visited hundreds of wineries across the world, and this visit was one of the worst I have experienced

The accoustics, coupled with the guide's accent, made it extremely difficult to follow what was being said. On top of that the guide did not entertain questions, as she thought they interrupted her flow. But her flow was never ending s and not aimed at the group

The method of production of the winery is to avoid using pumps, and instead, when it is necessary, lift wine back up the building: this is done by decanting the wine into large kettles, which are lifted by crane. The guide's explanation was bad and it was difficult to follow what was happening We finally got to the tasting, where there were two wines to taste - a set white wine, and then a red wine that everyone in the group had to agree on. We ended up tasing a red chosen by the loudest of the group. I have no idea why the winery cannot just decide what wines they are proudest of for the tasting There was an overlong explanation of the pleasant, but not particularly memorable, white wine. The length of the explanation might have been necessary for a great wine, but not for this one In the end I left with the feeling that I should not have bothered visiting this winery

 

Ostatu

This is a small, family run vineyard on the main road just outside Samaniego. It is based in a 18th century manor built as a boarding house at a strategic point on the road between Laguardia and Vitoria-Gasteiz. It later became their family home until 2009, when they turned it into the present winery

We did not have a tour here, but just a tasting. The lady doing the tasting was very welcoming

 

And from here it was back to Moraira

 

Our trip to France 2021