Six ways to experience pure #martelism in La Rioja’s winegrowing heartland
The land where Martelo started life gave its name to Spain’s most famous wines. But man can’t live from Tempranillo, Viura or Malvasia grapes alone. From the wineries of Haro and Laguardia, to the capital of Logroño or pretty Arnedo, you can enjoy an intense, bustling social scene all over La Rioja. #Martelism is about taking pleasure from the little things that are part of daily life, but always special. In La Rioja, there are countless ways to do this. Here are six ideas that fit the bill perfectly.
Concéntrico, when design takes over the city
Every April, the streets of Logroño are literally taken over by Concéntrico. International Festival of Architecture and Design. Fleeting constructions that provide us with unusual perspectives; exhibitions that call for careful contemplation and a whole range of activities that help us see things from another point of view. This dialogue between architecture, design, the city and people has become a must-visit for anyone with an interest in design.
Ezcaray, where there’s always something happening
Nestled between towering mountains and gently sloping hillsides, you can find a little town with a buzzing cultural life along with countless sports and gastronomic events. There, listening to music when its Jazz Festival takes over the stone-paved streets; swishing down the slopes of Valdezcaray ski station; or enjoying an enviable range of gastronomic options are just some of the things you can do in this town where there’s always something going on. A recommendation: Portal de Echaurren Restaurant offers up creative cooking under the guidance of the maestro, Francis Paniego, who has transformed this place into a haven for lovers of fine dining. And as you’d expect, they have Martelo 😉
Fardelej: Martelo is feeling indie
Summer is all about music festivals and Arnedo is home to one where good music, good wine and good food come together on the same stage. Fardelej is one of those festivals that Martelo loves: small, charming and with great taste. On July 13th and 14th, true Spanish classics – such as Coque Malla and Revólver– will set the tone, joined by the very finest groups from the country’s indie scene.
Laguardia: a unique viewpoint
Laguardia is the capital of La Rioja Alavesa region and one of the prettiest little towns in Spain (don’t just take it from us: it’s actually an official member of the ‘Prettiest Towns in Spain Association’). This medieval town lies atop a hill, from which you can take in one of the best winegrowing landscapes in the world. Perhaps our favourite view is looking out from the western slope: from its viewing platform you can see Torre de Oña, the boutique winery where Martelo is born and crafted. And we can’t imagine a better way to round off a visit to Laguardia than getting to know its vineyards and wine cellars. If you’re looking for a place to sleep, our recommendation is Hospedería Los Parajes. In this special hotel, where attention is paid to every detail, as well as resting you can enjoy the spa or a good glass of Martelo in the atmospheric surroundings of its underground cellar.
Casa de la Imagen: Logroño’s home to photography and video
Ansel Adams once said that “a good photograph is knowing where to stand”. And standing in front of the photos on display at Casa de la Imagen is a good place to start. This renovated building in the centre of Logroño is dedicated entirely to photography and the moving image. It holds regular exhibitions of contemporary, artistic and experimental photography which are usually complemented by other artistic disciplines. A highly recommendable stop on your Riojan tour.
Calle Laurel: The best street in Spain?
It would be a long and interesting debate, because Spain is home to many special, beautiful, historic and picturesque streets. But we’re sure that Calle Laurel in Logroño would be a bookie’s favourite. On this and neighbouring streets, you can experience the friendly, sociable nature of Riojan people, first-hand. Calle Laurel’s many bars originally served local wines, accompanied by a dish of cheese or cured meat. Today, the wines remain but a whole range of modern and traditional specialities have joined the cheese and cured meat, served as smaller pinchos and tapas or larger raciones. One of Martelo’s favourites is Pata Negra bar, where you can savour the taste and aroma of local wine alongside its classic mini-baguette sandwiches: simple yet delicious.