The region where the nature and culture go hand in hand
Castile and Leon region is the largest autonomous community in Spain. It offers a diverse natural landscape, majestic historical monuments and a wide range of delicious regional cuisine. The Saint James Way pilgrim route goes through this region. The region boasts nearly 40 protected natural spaces and will amount to an excellent holiday for any nature lover. Towns like Avila, Segovia and Salamanca are beautiful and attractions like Burgos Cathedral and Atapuerca archaeological sites are worth the trip. The local delicacies like botillo, roast suckling pig and black sausages are quite famous, and you can pair the food with some of the best wines in the region like those from Ribera de Duero appellation.
Castila and Leon is one of the most important wine regions of Spain, which combines notable DOs(Denominaciones de Origen) such as Ribera del Duero, Toro, Rueda and Bierzo.
The Castile and Leon Vino de la Tierra title covers the entire wine region. It has much less restrictive regulations, and a wide range of grape varieties are permitted, which also gives winemakers a chance to work on less-traditional wine styles.
HISTORY BOX: The history of wine production in Castile and Leon wine region can be dated back to the Roman times although the wines of the region started gaining importance only during the eleventh century. Although the region’s economy has traditionally focused on cereal crops, viticulture has been a significant economic activity in the area for more than 2000 years.
In terms of climate, Castilla and Léon has a remarkably strong continental feel, given how close it comes to the Atlantic Ocean. Hot, dry summers here are followed by sharp, cold winters when temperatures regularly drop well below freezing. Diurnal temperature shifts are equally pronounced, and play a vital part in the local wine styles. Cool nights refresh the vineyards after long, hot days.
The Land of Red Wines
Red wines rule in Castille and Léon, and the Tempranillo grape variety is unquestionably the king. It is known here by various synonyms including Tinta del Pais, Tinto de Toro and Tinto Fino. Tempranillo is behind all of the region’s finest wines and it is believed that monks of Cluny who came here through Santiago way brought this vine here. Generally, Tempranillo produces complex, full-bodied red wines with spicy and fruity flavours. In addition to Tempranillo, they also produce fruity mineral red wine Bierzo from Mencia grape variety. The supporting cast includes the French varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
Castile and Leon’s white wines are far fewer in number than the reds, but only marginally less prestigious. They are made mostly from the white grapes Verdejo and Viura.
Some of the DO wines you Can Taste in Castile and Leon Wine Region
The DO Arlanza of Castile and Leon wine region extends its vineyards from the southeast of Palencia to the west of Burgos. The grapes used are Tinta del País, Mencía, Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon in reds; Albillo and Viura in whites. The red wines of this DO should be made with at least 80% of Tinta del País when in rosé wines limit is 60%.
DO El Bierzo is in the northwest of the León province, in the valley of the Sil river. The main varieties of grapes are Mencía for the reds and Doña Blanca and Godello for the whites. Six different types of Castilian wines are produced in DO El Bierzo.
The DO Arribes lies in the northwest of the province of Salamanca and in the southeastern province of Zamora. DO Arribes produces red, white and rosé Castilian wines and the grape varieties allowed are Juan García, Rufete, Tempranillo, Mencía and Garnacha for the reds and Malvasía, Verdejo and Albillo for the whites. The types of wines they produce are Crianza, Joven, Rosé and White.
The DO Cigales was established in 1991, but winemaking has been part of the day to day of this region from the 10th century. The grape varieties allowed are Tinta del País, Garnacha Tinta and Garnacha Gris in red and Verdejo and Albillo in whites. The vines of Tinta del País occupy at least 70% of the whole plantation, which makes it the most used variety.
Top 3 Places to Visit in Castile and Leon
Salamanca – An island well worth discovering
Salamanca lies in central Spain, 212 kilometres from Madrid. The historic centre of the city is a World Heritage Site protected by UNESCO.
Having one of the oldest universities in Europe with an exceptional Renaissance architecture turns Salamanca into a vibrant student. In its heyday, it was one of the most highly regarded European universities. For this reason, it has been attended by some of the greatest Spanish thinkers, artists and writers.
The Vía de la Plata (Silver Way), the old Roman road linking northern and southern Spain, passes through Salamanca. It is a good base for exploring interesting towns and villages nearby, also on the path of this ancient road, such as Guijuelo and Béjar. Salamanca is rich in history, but it’s also modern, lively, and fun. Thanks to the students, this city is full of life and movement 24 hours a day. Salamanca should be seen by day and by night, but especially at sunset when the sun gives a golden hue to the stone from Villamayor used to build it centuries ago.
Avila – A hidden gem in the Sierra Gredos Mountains
Ávila, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital of Castile and Leon, is surrounded by the Sierra Gredos Mountains. Behind the city walls, you will find the set of churches and Renaissance palaces which proves the past prosperity of the city as a textile centre.
The symbol of the city is already mentioned wall, which is one of the well-preserved walls in Europe. It is two and a half kilometres long and consists of 2,500 battlements, 100 towers, 6 doors and 3 secondary entrances together with the main entrance of the old town called Los Leales Gate. Don’t miss to visit the city cathedral(12-14th century), which looks like a fortress. While there are superimposed Gothic and Baroque elements on the façade, inside there are intricate reliefs in the retrochoir, and the tomb of El Tostado, made of alabaster.
The Plaza del Mercado Chico is the centre of the city, where the old Roman forum used to be situated. The façades of the Town Hall and of the Church of San Juan are facing the centre. Throughout its history, Ávila was the birthplace of famous Spanish mystics such as Santa Teresa de Jesús and San Juan de la Cruz. This is why there are many churches and convents scattered round the city. There are important towns in the province of Ávila, such as Arévalo, a beautiful example of Mudejar style from Ávila, designated a Historic-Artistic Site; Some of the archaeological findings that are worth seeing in the province are Castro de Cogotas, one of the most important sites in Spain, and Toros de Guisando, Celtic stone sculptures. And finally, the Sierra de Gredos Regional Reserve, a great alternative for nature lovers.
Cuidad Rodrigo – A quaint Italian cathedral city
Ciudad Rodrigo is a small cathedral city in the province of Salamanca, in western Spain. The site of Ciudad Rodrigo, perched atop a rocky rise on the right bank of the River Águeda, has been occupied since the Neolithic Age. Known also as Mirobriga by those who wish to associate the city with an ancient Celtic village in the outskirts of the modern city. Ciudad Rodrigo has a Mediterranean climate characterised by hot and dry summers, and cool, damp winters.
what you should not miss to visit:
City Walls – the historic centre of Ciudad Rodrigo is also enclosed by the city walls. The walls were built during the 12th century. In the 17th century, the walls were rebuilt and reinforced by bastions, ravelins and artillery batteries.
The Cathedral of Santa María is a medieval cathedral situated in the town which was constructed in the 12th century in late Romanesque style and was refurbished in the 16th century by Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón. The cathedral contains many artworks: The Portal of the main façade (Portico del Perdón), the 16th-century choir stalls, baroque retables, medieval sculptures, and tombs.
There are also several well preserved Renaissance and Baroque mansions and palaces such as Castro’s Palace, and the Palace of the Aguila, with a garden and two courtyards, one of them in Plateresque style.
Nature and adventure tourism at its best
The region of Castile-León is home to some simply outstanding natural attractions: a national park, 12 nature reserves, five designated nature area. There are so many ways that these attractions can be enjoyed from hot air ballooning or enjoying live music in a national park. This is a new way to experience tourism.
Cave of Franceses – Nature’s Own Work of Art
The Cueva de los Franceses (Cave of the French) is finely sculptured natural work of art situated between Covalagua and the Páramo de la Lora. Caves have formed over the centuries through the action of water. During the War of Independence, the cave has been the burial ground for many French soldiers. Inside the cave, there is a beautiful collection of stalactite formations that can be admired along a distance of 500 metres.
Acebal de Garagueta – Immerse Yourself in an Endless Holly Forest
The Acebal de Garguerta is the largest forest in the Iberian Peninsula and southern Europe. It comprises 406 hectares of forest, of which 180 hectares are pure holly trees that grow in a labyrinth forming vaults in which thrush and deer shelter. The area has extraordinary ecological value. It is thought that its origin is natural and that it comes from the degradation of oak and beech forests, in which holly appeared as accompanying vegetation.
‘After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own family’
Nine provinces of Castilla and Leon share flavours and tastes but conserve their own traditions. The historical and artistic richness of the region is clearly reflected in the gastronomy of the area. The region has fondly been given the nickname “España del Asado” (Spain of the Roast). Without a doubt, Castilla and Leon is best known for its roast suckling pig and lamb. These might be the main dishes of the local cuisine, but there are many others well worth trying prepared with all sorts of ingredients. Here, visitors can witness one of the many gastronomical events dedicated to lamb, to pork, to wild mushrooms etc. Take part in the age-old ritual called the “matanza” (home butchering), or visit the international trout week.
Soria: Pork Crackling – The world’s most famous crispy pork crackling
Soria pork crackling, also known as Torreznos are made from thick strips of pork belly. The meat is sprinkled with salt and fried in olive oil until very crispy and crunchy. They are perfect served hot or cold or with a nice cold beer or local wine. Soria is also used in other dishes such as migas (based on shredded bread, garlic, olive oil, and other ingredients) and Patatas Revolconas (a similar dish based on potatoes).
Palencia- Stewed River Crabs
Palencia originates in the town of Herrera de Pisuerga. Here you will be able also to visit the river crab museum and attend the March crap festival. You might already importance of a river crab for this town. Palencia is prepared from boiled Cangrejos del río. After boiling it, they dressed in olive oil, white wine, garlic, onions, and Guindilla peppers. Peel and appreciate!
Hornazo – A New Take on a Pork Pie
Castile and Leon is famous for its pork dishes and one of its signature treats is Hornazo. Hornazo is a pastry stuffed with pork loin, savoury chorizo sausage, and hard-boiled egg. Generally, they’re made large and served cut into slices, and are tasty at room temperature but even more delicious served right out of the oven.
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Map of Wineries in Castile and Leon wine region
Discover the long wine tradition of Castile and Leon and discover some of the best wineries in this region
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