I was having lunch with some friends in Madrid, and as it was such a lovely day we decided to chance it outside on a terrace. A typical Menú del Día (set menu) at €11 for which you get a 1st course, a 2nd course, dessert or coffee, plus bread and a bottle of table-wine and ‘Casera’ or ‘Gaseosa’ (a fizzy sweet lemonade-type drink to mix with the wine).
So we ordered the ‘vino y Casera’ and when it came, we tasted it first before mixing in the Casera. We always do that, as a sort of anti-tasting, and talk about the nuances of the disgustingness and undrinkability of these wines! Well, shock, horror, and will wonders never cease!!!! The wine they served us yesterday was actually drinkable, not at all unpleasant and even had some aromas and tastes of a decent wine. This was not due to transitory madness, phase of the moon, or irrational exuberance as they say; there were three of us and we all agreed on the wine’s drinkability. We suspected an error at the bottling or labeling line, but we finished the bottle without ever adding any Casera.
So after lunch I checked out the wine on the internet. More surprises. It turns out it’s made by a winery called Bodegas Virgen de las Viñas, from near the town of Tomelloso, in the middle of La Mancha. It’s a co-op of over 2,000 (that’s two thousand!) grape-growers, with a total of over 23,000 hectares (about 55,000 acres) under vines, and they produce over 150 Million liters of wine. They have a website in English, but it doesn’t seem to work: http://www.vinostomillar.com/
The wine itself was called “Viña Tomilla Tinto”, and is a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha. It retails at €1,38/bottle plus shipping.
I was surprised that such a massive cooperative winery could produce such a nice drinkable wine. Co-ops that size usually churn out undrinkable wines that have to be mixed with ‘Casera’. This is true – it’s not just me being elitist!!! At any restaurant in Madrid where they serve a Menu del Día, you automatically get a bottle of fizzy Casera to mix with the wine.
I was also surprised that they had a website in English, even though it doesn’t work. The site in Spanish doesn’t work very well either!
The food at the restaurant was also really good – much better than the usual fare at such places. It’s called “El Ibérico” and it’s on the Glorieta de Ruiz Jiménez next to the taxi rank. Intersection of C/San Bernardo and C/Alberto Aguilera, behind the taxi rank. It doesn’t have a webpage and I couldn’t find any reviews of it in the usual sites!
So if you’re passing through Madrid, hungry and on a budget, … you know where to go!