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Wine society visits La Mancha

Forty members of the Algarve Wine Society travelled northeast last week to visit the Spanish wine producing region of La Mancha.

The group used the city of Toledo as their base and their accommodation was located in the heart of the old city.

John Edge, the trip’s organiser, worked with Javier Muñoz to develop a four-day programme of gastronomy and wine.

The group’s welcome dinner on Tuesday was at La Perdix restaurante in the old city, where Toledo’s culinary specialities of braised partridge and marzipan were among the delicacies served.

The first winery to be visited on Wednesday was 40km north of Toledo in Mentrida.

“Jimenez and Landi is a small, 50,000 bottle a year entrepreneurial operation, but its products proved to be very tasty,” said a spokesman for the Algarve Wine Society.

From Mentrida, the members drove south to the Dominio de Valdepusa, a major Spanish producer whose main wines carry the Marques de Griñon name.

Dinner back in Toledo was at the Adolfo Restaurante near the cathedral, where Javier’s father, Adolfo Muñoz, greeted the group and served up a gourmet meal.

Thursday was devoted to Toledo itself, where everyone wandered along the maze of narrow, winding lanes that form the old city. Art lovers took in the many paintings by El Greco who, although born in Crete, found favour and fortune in Toledo, where he lived from 1577 until his death in 1614.

Admirers of religious architecture spent time in the cathedral and the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes.

Lunch was preceded by a visit to the antique wine cellar, which holds about 40,000 bottles of the best 2,000 of Europe’s wines plus a number of antique wine oriented curiosities.

The final dinner was a gala affair. It was held at Viñedos Cigarral Santa Maria, the Muñoz family home and boutique winery.

The group tasted the family’s Pago del Ama wines, of which only 4,000 bottles are produced.

“We then had a most delicious gourmet dinner featuring venison and, of course, excellent wines,” said the spokesman.

Friday was departure day, but the trip was  not yet finished. First stop was the Bodegas Martúe winery in La Guardia, where Eva Pardines Martínez offered the group some “excellent white and red wines”. 

Then it was on down the autoroute to Cordoba and lunch in the El Churrasco Restaurante in the heart of the old town.

Although membership of the Algarve Wine Society is currently at its upper limit, and applications cannot be considered for admission before 2011, information about the Society may be obtained from the Secretary, Larry Hampton, by e-mail at [email protected]