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  • Santander for wine lovers
  • Santander for wine lovers
  • Santander for wine lovers
  • Santander for wine lovers
  • Santander for wine lovers
  • Santander for wine lovers
1.La Ruta del Vino 2. La Cigaleña 3.El Catavinos 4.Días de Sur 5.Vino Vintage Santander 6.Wines from Bodegas Sel d’Aiz. Photos are courtesy of the shops and restaurants


Santander for wine lovers

Elisa Errea | September 17th, 2015

We are in September. Probably, our favourite month in the north of Spain: the Indian summer allows locals to enjoy their last days at the beach; tourists have left and they can enjoy the town’s hidden paradises or park at the Sardinero beach and marvel at the crazy September tides, filling the sea with surfers in search of the perfect wave.

Those lucky enough to stay there can enjoy all this plus the local restaurants and bars, where it’s no longer necessary to book a table or elbow your way to the bar. Those of us who leave Santander after the summer can still enjoy this when we go back for the weekend: the walks on the beach, the views from the Faro de Cabo Mayor, rabas at noon, shopping in town or at Mercado de la Esperanza, where the loud voices of the fishmongers will take you back to childhood...

But going back to what’s important for us: Where do we go when we want to enjoy wine? Take pen and pencil. This is Santander for wine lovers!

La Ruta del Vino: THE WINE SHOP (with capital letters).

Santander burned down in 1941, 48 years after another major disaster, the explosion of the steamboat Cabo Machichaco. Apart from the tragedy itself, the most visible result today is that only a tiny part of the old Santander remains, around the streets of El Medio and Arrabal and Plaza del Este. Just a handful of streets —full of character and charm— that hide one of our gems: a delightful shop with history and flavour, originally founded by Philippe Cesco, and owned today by Jean Marcos Núñez, original from Venezuela but of Cantabrian origin and based in Santander for over 11 years.

In the mezzanine of La Ruta, Jean gathers friends and customers who discover wines of yesterday and today, from here and beyond, explained with simplicity and an amazing knowledge displayed by Jean and some other illustrious guests speakers. 

The fame of La Ruta del Vino goes beyond the borders of Cantabria, surely due to its great range of wines from around the world, including the most remote areas of Spain and, of course, wines from Cantabria. Whether you seek a wine for a gift, a discovery or your favourite wine, you will find it in La Ruta. A piece of advice: ask Jean for advice and let yourself be surprised! 

C/ Arrabal 18. 39003 Santander
Tel.:+34 942 216 503

The Temple: Restaurante Bodega La Cigaleña 

La Cigaleña started as a traditional bodega, founded by a grandfather; it became one of Santander’s favourite traditional eateries managed by the father and finally became a temple of pilgrimage in the hands of Andrés Conde, the grandson. Andrés is a discreet man who is said to be as fond of wine as generous in sharing advice and teachings.

His bodega has little competition in Spain and its cuisine is currently steering towards an updated style that gives Andrés’ favourite wines the opportunity to come on stage: France’s most natural, terroir-driven wines, small international producers, Sherry, Spanish classic, contemporary and future wines... A rare gem in a small city like Santander.

Calle Daoiz y Velarde, 19. 39003 Santander
Tel.: +34 942 21 30 62 

Wine by the glass: El Catavinos

I believe wine by the glass offerings are the most powerful sales strategy; a bar that makes it easy for people to taste a wide selection of wines alongside beautiful casual food makes us, wine lovers, specially happy. Imagine a grilled sirloin with a beret of foie on a crusty slice of bread and a touch of caramelized onions ... or a perfect tortilla de patata that makes you weep with joy, or a delicious local cheese, or a pincho de bonito… And now, match it all this with any wine by the glass of your choice: German Riesling, Argentinian Malbec, Bordeaux... And Bierzo, Priorat, Rioja, Ribera, Valdeorras, Madrid... whatever you want! I love a casual evening at El Catavinos followed by an ice cream at Capri.

Calle de Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, 4. 39003 Santander
Tel.: +34 601 35 07 72

Striving to tell things differently: Días de Sur

Viento Sur is the warm south wind that makes santanderinos go a little crazy. Days of south wind (Días de Sur) are special, windy, warm and sunny and the bay has a different colour. This landscape is the main character at Días de Sur, a restaurant and bar that we like for many reasons: seemingly simple but surprising food, with honest local ingredients, well-chosen wines, by the bottle and by the glass, lovely service and a menu and wine list that tell stories of each wine and ingredient.

For me, it is an example of how to move glasses of wine over the counter and encourage people to order wine. Their wine list is always an example in our courses for restaurant owners. 

Calle Hernán Cortés, 47. 39003 Santander
Tel.: +34 942 36 20 70

The curator of Spanish classic wines: Vino Vintage Santander

Everything started in a family cellar, where Spanish vintage wines had been carefully kept. From here, Rodrigo Prieto started Vino Vintage Santander, an incredible adventure that would take up most of his spare time: he would make these wines available and bring them in value.

From his cellar, real treasures of the Spanish history of winemaking can reach all corners of the world. They would be almost impossible to find otherwise. Rodrigo speaks with genuine affection of these wines and insists that Spanish vintage wines can rub shoulders with the gods of France or Italy: Barolo, Burgundy or Bordeaux, just to name a few. 

He could write a book telling the trips made by these wines from the Valle de Pas to Hong Kong, London or Brazil: individuals in search of wine from their year of birth, auction houses, restaurants or tasting groups are among his customers. The difference, according to him, lies in the absolute guarantee he can offer on the authenticity and integrity of these wines, the trust and closeness to his customers and an additional key factor: the unique natural conditions for wine storage in northern Spain.

Wine Tourism in Cantabria… Yes, it does exist! Bodegas Sel d’Aiz

Clearly, Cantabria is not part of the regular circuits of wine tourism (Yet!). However, there are two PGI (Protected Geographical Indications) in two veritable havens in our region: Vino de la Tierra de Liebana and Vino de la Tierra Costa de Cantabria. The first is located in the Valle de Liebana and the second comprises the vineyards between the coast and the mountain, up to 600 meters of altitude, except the villages of VdT de Liebana.

Eight vintages ago, a lovely couple from the Basque Country landed in Castillo Pedroso, at the gates of the Valle de Pas, determined to start a winery that is an absolute pleasure to visit today. Asier and Miriam make what we would call cool-climate white wines from Albariño, Godello and Riesling in an amazing site that one would never want to leave. 

Wines with moderate alcohol, a divine nose, freshness and smoothness, join forces with an engaging conversation with our hosts who never get tired of talking about their Cantabrian adventure. Add to that a couple of slate platters of anchovies and cheese plus a landscape of rolling hills covered with high-trellised vines and you will never want to leave Bodegas Sel d'Aiz.

Bº Cotorral s/n, 39699 Castillo Pedroso
Tel.: +34 629 473 755


An online site to purchase old Spanish wines
Drinking smartly around Retiro park in Madrid
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