Water to wine bike tour (Penedès) – taste the difference!

4 08 2009

panormaic view montserratI am quite pleased to say that I survived the 30 km excursion winding through the hills (sierra) of the Penedes wine region. We started out on a 3 km trek up the hill where, Wine Pleasures base is located.  Road winding this way and that, magnificent, panoramic views jump out from around the next bend as we ascend to the top.  Just as we get there, Nic’s bike gives out, and our breakdownexcursion stalls until Anthony can zoom down and retrieve another bike.  Seemingly moments later, up pulls the support vehicle and we pull the bikes out and Nic familiarizes himself with his new ride. 

We are off again, this time a pleasantly winding cruise down the other side of the hill leads us to our first scheduled stop, a natural spring (Els Canals).  The clear, fresh water pours from a rock just at the perfect spring waterheight for filling our water bottles.  Once refreshed and bottles no longer empty, down the little gravel road we shoot, skidding a bit here and there only adds to the excitement.

Our next stop after about a 20 min. ride is an ancient oak tree over 1000 years old.  Its massive trunk juts up to about 2m where several thick, gnarled limbs curl their way toward the sky.  Nic, all the while snapping photos, climbs the trunk to a perfect spot to sit and have your picture taken in this arborous wonder. 

Continuing along, not far from our oak stop, Anthony pulls his bike off the road and stops.  Seemingly there is something wrong, there doesn’t seem to be anything in sight.  He motions for us to follow, and nearly falling into our next sight I realize what we are stopped for!  A pot hole some 30m deep opens at our feet.  Only about half a meter wide and a meter and a half long, very little light is shed into the potentially massive cavern below.  There is just enough light to see some impressive stalagtite formations near the rim.  Without any climbing gear we are unable to explore any deeper than we can see; but all is well, It is rumoured that past inhabitants of the area used it for disposing of dead livestock, and who knows what else!

Before reaching the pinnacle of our bike tour, one more stop is made. abadoned houseThis time at a vacation house of Belgian Royalty used 200+ years ago.  Nearly intact, the structure is beautifully constructed from locally found stones.  A well house is also on the site. Nearly 3m across, I am impressed with the size and depth, and peering down the well there are still thousands of litres of water contained within.

abandoned monasteryAfter a short ride we reach the monastery ruins that we set out to see.  One partial exterior wall is all that remains.  All around though, we see the outlining foundation where the walls once stood.  Walking from room to room I can almost picture how the ancient inhabitants lived.  Several fairly small rooms (maybe 4m x 3m), probably living quarters shared by two or more monks at a time, connect to a larger, likely communal room.  Erected in 1155, these monks only lived here until until 1168 when lack of water forced them to move on to nearby Santa Creus. 

Water bottles empty, the same has forced us to do as well.  Only drops of the crystal clear spring water remain from our first stop.  Anthony tells us of another spring nearby, and we’re off.  Once again an exhilerating downhill leads us to this much needed refreshment.  Like the one previous, the water rushes from a hole, seemingly pierced into the face of a rock.  Strangely enough, the cool water has a distinctly different taste.  More like a difference in texture explainable only to the palate.  Drinking our fill, we top off our bottles and head into La Llacuna for lunch, fine wine, and La Fiesta Mayor…

                                         To be Continued…

Alec Cruickshank – cardman9to5@yahoo.com

Photos Nic Myers

Here’s a video we took during this fantastic wine country bike tour organised by Wine Pleasures:

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J.Miquel Jané (DO Penedès) to participate in the Wine Pleasures Buyer meets Spanish Cellar Workshop

6 02 2009

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Wine Pleasures Workshop: Buyer meets Spanish Cellar

bernadette1The Winery J. Miquel Jané is located on the heart of Alt Penedès, one of best place to produce wine in Catalonia. The 95ha-vineyard is situated at an altitude of 500 metres above sea level, where the contrast in day and night temperatures is most significant.

 J.Miquel Jané wines are a result of the family’s wine-producing tradition which began four generations ago.

The philosophy of J.Miquel Jané is focused on the production of high quality wines aimed at meeting the demands of an increasingly knowledgeable consumer.

We produce wines from local grapes as Xarel-lo, Parellada or Ull de Llebre, and blends of local and internationals varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot) to create inventive and expressive wines, and being at the same time respectful with the traditional methods.

Our range is small but quite complete with a fresh Blanc de Blanc, an elegant Sauvignon Blanc, a fruity Rose and well balanced Red wines (Semicrianza and Reserva). 

J. Miquel Jané is an international oriented winery,   selling more than 50% of our production in the export market. We are looking for new partners, paying special attention to importers and distributors whose main concern is quality and who would be interested in sharing our philosophy.

Our wines have been rewarded several times at International wine competitions (le Mondial du Rosé, Mundus Vini, Decanter…).

The J.Miquel Jané winery is one of the few wineries in the Penedès region active in wine tourism. The winery, set in the High Penedès  is well worth a visit.

If you would like to contact J.Miquel Jané re their wines and winery visits please do so through their web page. To meet them and taste their wines as a buyer please complete an enrollment form through the Wine Pleasures web site.