North from Vallodolid on a shorter trip than yesterday’s 3 hours to Bierzo. We tumble down a hill and are faced with this majestic sweep of a view – past the Romanesque church and up to the walls of Cigales, pressed low to the hills brow by rain-laden clouds.
This is red wine country, although rose brought initial fame to the region. Tinto del Pais, a variant of Tempranillo dominates; roses must have at least 60% (‘white’ varieties comprising the remainder) and the reds 85% (Grenache making up the differences).
We halt by a vineyard, clamber up the slope by the side of the road, and wander amongst the vines. A mixed planting of reds our guide explains – Tinto del Pais and Grenache and he plucks a leaf from the nearest stump and another from further down the row. One is a brighter green than the other, while one has a furry underside. At first glance they could have come from the same plant.
I wasn’t concentrating, admiring the vista and zooming my camera onto distant trees and closer for wide angled sweeps of the slope, to note which leaf was from which variety. The conversation back on the coach indicated that the others in the party were equally as confused!
We didn’t hang around the vineyard long; the ever present clouds were following us across the plain and then there was the anticipation of a 12 wine tasting as our next stop.