The wines of Bodegas Arrayán from Spain's Méntrida region continue to impress

In the usual immersive ambiance of candlelight refracting through wine glasses as if a thousand diamonds had been scattered on the table, our friends at Joselito -- a Washington, DC restaurant that I once described as being from "a bygone world both elegant and intimate" -- recently reconnected us with the delightful wines of Bodegas Arrayán from Spain's Méntrida region.

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Our definitive guide to the world class wine, food, history, and energy you'll find in Madrid, Spain

I make no secret of my love for cities, and less secret still of my particular love for the capital of Spain. I always seem to return to the first European city with which I fell in love on a visit years ago with my grandparents. Though I've written here and there about the city before, I've recently found myself responding by email to several friends seeking advice for their time there. Thus, this Wine:Thirty Flight Guide to Madrid is born.

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In a volcano's shadow, Bodegas El Grifo's excellent wines are a profound expression of terroir

Eyes closed, this warm breeze is unlike any of you've ever experienced in lands where wine is made. Tropical, wrapping you up inside of that very distinct sense of what standing in the middle of the ocean feels like. It is, yet, not what truly thrills the senses here. Open your eyes to the horizon, where the bluest of skies meets the black, pockmarked, grey stoned earth as if we had colonized the moon, and this was our vineyard there.

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Review: Economy class Madrid to JFK aboard Iberia's A340 is a flight we'd definitely fly again

Iberia -- Spain's main airline with its hub in Madrid -- operates a trans-Atlantic joint venture arrangement with its partners British Airways (the two are actually the same company), American Airlines, and FinnAir. We have crossed the ocean on both American and British at least once this year, so were happy to add Iberia's economy class service from Madrid to New York (JFK) aboard an Airbus A340 to our experience. This is our review, for anyone considering a similar trip.

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Review: Never thought I'd say this, but Iberia's Euro-style business class is worth it (sometimes).

I never thought I'd say this, but I've determined that Iberia's European-style business class is worth a few extra euros on a flight -- we'll say -- longer than two hours. I actually flew the service twice this fall, once from Arrecife (on Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands) to Madrid, and then about a month later from Madrid to Stockholm, Sweden. The service was consistent between both flights, though my discussion here focuses on the first.

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Three wines for you to try from Ribera del Duero, one of Spain's finest wine regions

I've been carrying around recommendations for three Ribera del Duero wines we've tried in restaurants throughout Spain over the last year. A pair of them have surfaced through other posts, but as none were part of a lineup or a winery visit, I've not had cause to share them in a lineup. Funny, though, we've seen them all again in places other than where we first tried them, and have found them all to be worthy bottles from one of our very favorite of the world's great wine regions. Give them a look.

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Three fabulous restaurants for your journey through Spain's Toro, Ribera del Duero, and Rioja

The chef sat at our table and asked us if we had brought the wine. We had just walked through the door into what appeared to be a small local place fronting a charming yet luxurious dining room in the back. Yes, we had the wine; a blessing, for the meal that was to come had been paired specially not just for any bottle, but for this bottle. Our host grinned. So at El Chivo, in the tiny Spanish village of Morales de Toro, began the one of the most spectacular three days' of lunches that Meghan or I have ever experienced.

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An evening in Burgos, the gem of a city astride Spain's Ribera del Duero and Rioja wine regions

We drove east from Valladolid, through the small towns of Peñafiel and Roa, the even smaller town of Gumiel del Mercado and its Bodegas Arrocal winery, entering the city of Burgos just after dark. The streets were alive with activity as we drove towards the center of the old city and its cathedral this Wednesday evening. This is how to spend a most worthy evening and a day here.

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Revisiting Spain's excellent Elias Mora wines with our friends at Joselito in Washington, DC

Laughter and happy conversation fill this room of polished marbled tables and glasses, twinkling as the light of the long day's evening sun refracts through their sparkling contents. This is a party whose blend of elegance and warmly familiar charm could only have been the work of Javier and Christiana, proprietors at Washington, DC's Joselito - Casa de Comidas, our hosts for the evening. We've come to try a lineup of wine from Bodegas Elias Mora, a lovely winery that we visited in Spain's Toro region

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How to enjoy a day in Valladolid when visiting Spain's Toro and Ribera del Duero wine regions

Valladolid has long been on my list of venerable old cities to visit. One evening is not nearly enough, but it's what we had to work with as we ventured from the Toro to Ribera del Duero wine regions. Yes, Valladolid is particularly well situated as an operating base for wine drinkers. Here's how to get the most of your day there.

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In Spain's Méntrida region, idyllic Bodegas Arrayán is making fantastic wine, available worldwide

We drove about twenty minutes from the small Spanish town of La Torre de Esteban Hambrán, to vineyards in the media alta -- middle elevations -- on winding dirt roads surrounded by lush green countryside where we understand hunting deer and other game goes hand-in-hand with tending vineyards. It was winter then, when lonely rows of clipped vines stretch down the gently sloping hills on into the horizon. Here at Bodegas Arrayán winery in Spain's Méntrida wine region, we walk from barrel to barrel, tank to tank, stopping at each to sample the now-aging vintages.

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Review: Madrid to Philadelphia in American Airlines economy class aboard the Airbus A330

The Airbus A330 has been my ride back to the United States from Europe a couple of times lately, most recently flying in American Airlines main cabin extra from Madrid to Philadelphia. While I missed the business class seat I had on my previous experience aboard this plane, I can actually say that the A330 is currently one of my favorite planes to fly on in any class of service. This is a really great flight by economy standards, one that I am sure we'll take again.

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Our current picks for great food, wine, atmosphere in Madrid, Spain

I made the case just last week that Insanely great airfares make this the absolute right time to book your Europe trip for later in 2017, so am following up this week with our fourth and final (for now) installation of our Wine:Thirty Flight Guide to Madrid, Spain with what is arguably the most important piece of the series: Our favorite places for great wine, great food, and great dining atmosphere in one of my very favorite cities.

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Insanely great airfares make this the absolute right time to book your Europe trip for later in 2017

If you've had a trip to Europe on your wishlist, now's the time to book it for later this year. We've been watching the airline prices from some of the big trans-Atlantic markets in the United States, and are feeling quite good about the fares available right now. The specifics will vary, but the bottom line is that we think now is the time to pull in a good deal (some even in the sub-$500 round trip range, flying economy class, of course).

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Navigating the big, beautiful, bright, and always efficient Madrid Barajas Airport

We've been putting together a brief guide to Madrid, one of our very favorite cities, over the last several months. Here we continue the "getting there" theme with specific advice for navigating the sprawling Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD), not just the gateway to the Spanish capital and the European Unions's third largest city, but an architecturally stunning feat that we think is one of the best airports through which to travel.

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Inside the exquisite cellar of Bodegas Alonso Cuesta in Spain's Méntrida wine region

There's magic in the peace and quiet of a small town where wine is made. Midday sun warms you standing next to an unassuming bodega, smiling mindfully because you know there's a barrel cellar beneath your feet. A puppy leaps merrily out the door to great you. Children play in the otherwise quiet streets. Here we stand in the Spanish town La Torre de Esteban Hambrán, a town of less than 2,000 in the Province of Toledo, walking through the door of Bodegas Alonso Cuesta, one of the DO Méntrida region's finest wineries.

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Madrid, Spain: Getting there, getting around, and where to stay

I've made the case that "Madrid is the most spectacular western city that most readers of this blog have never been to". At over three million people, though, we're talking about a big city here: largest in Spain, third largest in the European Union, and larger than every city in the United States other than New York and Los Angeles. So here in our Part 2 on this great city, we're going talk the logistics of how to get there, how to get around, and where to stay.

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Review: TAP Portugal Express, Seville to Lisbon to Porto, is great quality for short flights

TAP Portugal between Seville (Spain), Lisbon, and Porto treated us to the best regional air travel we've expereienced. If you love spending time on the Iberian Peninsula (that's Spain and Portugal, for the geographically uninitiated) as much as we do, it's entirely likely that TAP will be a big part of your plans. They are worth considering.

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