La Rioja & Ribera del Duero

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in La Rioja & Ribera del Duero

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La Rioja and Ribera del Duero in northwestern Spain produce many of the country’s finest wines. La Rioja’s famous reds come in four classifications: “Rioja,” which spends less than a year in oak; “Crianza,” aged for two years, at least one of which is in oak; “Rioja Reserva,” aged for at least three years, of which at least one is in oak; and “Rioja Gran Reserva,” aged at least two years in oak and three years in the bottle. Several bodegas have been designed or extended by some of the world’s most illustrious architects. These include Santiago Calatrava’s stunning Bodegas Ysios in Laguardia and the late Zaha Hadid’s addition to the venerable Bodegas R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia in Haro.

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An Exquisite Tradition of Pottery

Just outside Burgos, the Alfarería Naharro (Carretera de Burgos, Navarrete) perpetuates the pottery-making traditions of La Rioja with beautiful white- or red-glazed terra-cotta pitchers, vases, teapots, bowls, plates, carafes and platters. They also do matte-finished terra-cotta and one-of-a-kind pieces. This is an example of that rare traditional workshop that sells things that are actually worth the effort of carrying home by hand. Tel. (34) 941-440-157.

One of Spain's Best Markets

Occupying a two-story 1930s building, the indoor Mercado de San Blas (Sagasta 1) in Logroño is one of the best and liveliest markets in Spain and a great place to shop for pantry staples or a picnic. You can also eat on the premises, maybe tucking into some roasted suckling pig served with fried potatoes and a salad of lettuce and tomatoes. Tel. (34) 941-220-430.

Undiscovered Gems

Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine is a perfect base from which to discover the Ribera del Duero as well as spectacular but little-known towns such as Penafiel, with its medieval square beneath a white crenellated castle, or the atmospheric old city of Valladolid, the location of Spain’s National Sculpture Museum.