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Recomendation(s) for a good vinoteca (with wine bar?) in San Sebastian, Bilbao or other nearby locations?

Recomendation(s) for a good vinoteca (with wine bar?) in San Sebastian, Bilbao or other nearby locations?

Old May 14th, 2005, 10:03 AM
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rex
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Recomendation(s) for a good vinoteca (with wine bar?) in San Sebastian, Bilbao or other nearby locations?

Flying in the face of good common sense, we hve decided to leave France after the second night on our (whirlwind) "sampler" trip, and move on to el Pais Vasco, based on finding lodging we like in San Sebastian, and "near" Bilbao.

Would like to stock up on Rioja and other "specialties of the vine" on that side of the border also.

It is tempting to ask if the new "creation" by Frank Gehry is completed at Marques de Riscal (but we are already driving so much too much - - 80 minutes each way from Bilbao) - - their website says completion date "end 2004", and yet they show no actual photos, only the party where the model was unveiled in 2000. Anyone have up to date info?

Thanks in advance from any Spanish wine enthusiasts... and...

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old May 14th, 2005, 10:04 AM
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Oh drat... so easy to goof up with <i>italics</i>! I should learn never to try to get fancy in a message header!
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Old May 14th, 2005, 01:48 PM
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topping... Robert?
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Old May 15th, 2005, 12:40 PM
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There are several good Vinotecas in the Pa&iacute;s Vasco, including ones in Donostia-San Sebastian and Bilbao, but very few will have tasting rooms to sample the wine. You can sample a number of great wines in the pintxos bars, matched with the proper dishes, our you can visit the bodegas themselves for tasting. The Rioja Alta and Alavesa isn’t that far from San Sebastian and Bilbao. And Navarra is close at hand. Of course there is a nice bodega in Bakio (Bodega Doniene-Gorrondona) where you can sample excellent Txakolinas, both red and white, before having lunch at Restaurante Josie Mari, Gotzon, Zintziri Errota or Eneperi.

We where at the Riscal bodega the week after Easter while visiting friends in the area. From what we saw it will not be open to the public until sometime in early 2006. We also heard that they already need to double, if not triple, the size of the new hotel to handle the expected number of guests who have already requested reservations.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 05:40 PM
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Thanks, Robert...

&lt;&lt;very few will have tasting rooms to sample the wine&gt;&gt;

okay.. well... I'll top another time or two... after all, I don't need a large quantity of names of any vinotecas that DO have tasting...

one would do!
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Old May 15th, 2005, 06:07 PM
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Rex, when we made the rounds of the tapas bars in the old section of Bilbao, we asked the bartenders to suggest the local good wines.
By the way, the restaurant at the
Guggenheim was better than any museum here. I bought a book in the bookshop on Peggy G.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 08:01 AM
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Thanks, m... (cigale)...

I'm sure I can get good advice from restauranteurs and barristas. But it's quite a different experience to go to a place for a couple of hours - - that is prepared to offer two ounce samples... and where you know you can sample from hundreds - - not just dozens (even if you have to buy a bottle to taste it), and get good guidance from the wineseller on what to expect from this label or that - - and be prepared to leave that place with purhcase of a half dozen bottles of one (or two) wine(s) that you know you like. And have the fond memory of the place you bought it, and the process by which you selected it.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 11:26 AM
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Great wines are part of everyday life in Spain and southern France, so purchasing wine in La Rioja, Pa&iacute;s Vasco, Navarra and just about anywhere else in Spain is quite unlike what you've experience at home. Only the best wines are sold and so it comes down to what you want in a bottle of wine, a Grand Reserva, Reserva, Crianza or a simple everyday table wine. Some wines are definitely better then others, but it’s a matter of personal preferences and taste and one you can learn by trying a bottle with lunch, dinner or pintxos. How the wine tastes with food is one of the most important parts in determining the character of the wine. In Spain, wine is always taken with food and some restaurants will match the wine with a dish so that you can experience the best combination.

One of the points in enjoying good Riojan wines is that even a Grand Reserva is ready to drink when it is released, but do make sure it is decanted. Unlike the French style of producing wines, Riojan wines do not need to be stored to reach their full potential. You can store them for a couple of years, but the flavor is there now and it will not improve markedly with age.

Depending on where you go, it is possible to buy some of the best wines produced by some of the most prestigious bodegas at a very steep discount if you happen to wander into a Vinoteca that’s selling bottles of wine without a label (D O’s). The Rioja regulates the number of bottles the bodegas can sell by issuing only the quantity of D O labels they have calculated will be produced by the bodega that year, which is often off during a good year, as the last three have been. Some of this great wine can go for as little as 1.67 euros a bottle for a great Reserva. But you have to know the regions wines or ask the proprietor. The locals are well aware of this situation, so don’t expect to find much sitting around.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 03:05 PM
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Thanks again, Robert - - good to know about the readiness to drink.

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Old May 16th, 2005, 06:59 PM
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Once more? up the flagpole...
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Old May 17th, 2005, 06:57 AM
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Rex, there are wineshops, but not what you are looking for (not that Iīd be aware, and even the biggest wineshop in Madrid, Lavinia, doesnīt offer that service).

If I were you, I might check the Club del Gourmet at &quot;El Corte Ingles&quot; in Bilbao, and maybe the &quot;Cofradia Europea del Vino&quot;, in Pozas street. La Vi&ntilde;a has a gourmet shop, but it is not only dedicated to the wine, and Victor Montes has an impressive array of wines, but they only send wine to very VIP customers.

Your best bet is doing your housework before arriving there, bring a list of possible wines to try, ask in the bars if they have them and what they think, try them, and then go to the wineshops ... You will have to choose between visiting the Guggenheim or buying wine, with your tight schedule ...

Rgds, Cova
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Old May 17th, 2005, 08:36 AM
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&lt;&lt;You will have to choose between visiting the Guggenheim or buying wine, with your tight schedule&gt;&gt;

Really? If we are there from 10 am to 7 pm?
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Old May 17th, 2005, 10:19 PM
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Rex,

if I havenīt misread your plans, you intend to stay at a B&amp;B outside Bilbao, drive into town, and then drive to Biarritz in order to get a night train to Paris.

If itīs still the case, I wouldnīt be leaving Bilbao at 19:00, no matter what Viamichelin might tell you. Iīd say leave earlier, just in case (you donīt know the state of the road, and you are not used to it, please, understand that I am saying it because itīs a dangerous motorway, with plenty of accidents and works and delays, not because I donīt have faith on your abilities as driver or navigator).

If you arrive into Biarritz with plenty of time, perfect, you will have time to do your last shopping maybe at the BAB mall, find the station, give back the car and have a good dinner.

Maybe I am a bit naive regarding the time you will spend at the Guggenheim (it seemed at the beginning to be the main reason behind you going to Bilbao). There is a huge Aztec exhibition going on at the moment, an &quot;Informalism and abstract expresionism&quot; one and the permanent collection. Between those and the building and walking around, you will probably end up having a late lunch at their restaurant ... Itīs not a big museum, but I know that it can take a lot of time. If by any chance you decide to get to the Bellas Artes Museum or the Ethnologic (highly recommended), your shopping time will be considerably shortened ...

Rgds, Cova

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Old May 18th, 2005, 03:40 AM
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Thanks, Cova...

Clearly, we can't &quot;do justice&quot; to Bilbao in 7 hours - - no more than you could Louisville (KY) or Columbus (OH). But we will heed the advice offered, or certainly factor it in. Just hadn't thought about NOT eating some kind of (admittedly early) dinner in Spain before heading back to Biarritz - - maybe we will try hondarribia instead, since we had thought of stopping there on the inbound direction but have now decided against. Any chance we will find a vinoteca there (especially open as late as 8 or 9 pm)?

The advice to consider the other two museum mentioned will certainly be considerations.

And we will make an &quot;on the fly&quot; decision about another possibility - - returning to Garro - - if we make any kind of rapport with the proprietor. Would it be offensive to ask about coming back there for a shower at 6 pm (not expecting for free, of course) - - since we are headed for the overnight train? Perhaps bring him/them a little pitxo/picnic &quot;thank you&quot; (too early for dinner, perhaps - - and not offered there) with an attempt at a Rioja gift? (not really something we would intend to share - - certainly not proposing drinking and driving). We'll see how that might go over... based on other guests they might have and instinct.

Other precautions we might take... stop by the Gare SNCF in Biarritz on our inbound journey, so that we know exactly where it is... and of curse, we ill be driving this route in return - - so that if there are construction or other predictable slowdowns, we will be more aware (I realize that traffic tie-ups and other UNpreditables are always the &quot;gotchas&quot.

In any event, thanks for all the advice...
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