Ridera del Duero is a wine D.O. (denomination of origin) that is recent compared to Rioja, (perhaps 15 years old) and the wines thus classified come from a smaller area, around 11,000 hectares as opposed to Rioja's 55,000. It lies to the south-west of La Rioja, and we visited it on the advice of our tour operator, who said that if we liked Rioja, we would like these wines too. They were right.
We stayed in the Parador de Lerma, a converted palace, whose owner, a prominent Seigneur was apparently so corrupt that the government eventually decided that it could not avoid prosecuting him, and who escaped trial and probable hanging only by persuading the catholic church to make him a cardinal. Which probably accounts, in part, for the nice church, monastery and convent next door to it. And which also just goes to prove that nothing changes. The old building was taken over by the Spanish government and turned into a hotel, part of a state programme to preserve the nation's heritage.
Mr Arroyo, son of the founder, runs the winery of ValSotillo, a small producer, but he tells us that he supplies Marks and Spencer with his wines. So if any UK-based reader is reading this and either has experience of this wine, or fancies trying it and reporting back, I'd be interested for an independent view on price and quality.
Our last winery visit was to El Lagar de Isilla, who started off as a restaurant, and then developed into winemaking, I guess as a sort of "upstream integration". They run a hotel and fine restaurant at the winery, and we had a kind of traditional local suckling lamb roast that has its own D.O. I think perhaps they raise the lambs too.
The winery itself is an example of a modern conversion that I thought was a bit overdone. Based on a theme of bottles and glass, the decor featured various sections of bottles incorporated into doors and windows, nice enough, but somehow "forced" for me. Wines were fine, though.
And that took us to the end of our wine tour. The company that organised things for us, Vintage Spain did a splendid job and the two guides they supplied were friendly and knowledgeable. I wouldn't hesitate to use them again in similar circumstances. We went on to Madrid the next day, but for now, here's a couple of holiday pics of the village of Pañaranda where we stopped off for a quick look.