On the Trail

ZIREBENA CELLAR

In our travels to Spain, we came across this cellar of a retired Basque restaurateur and were immediately intrigued by his story. As a young boy, the restaurateur worked at what was then his family’s small market. Later on his decision to expand the space into a restaurant dovetailed with the boom times of manufacturing and the energy sector in the Basque economy. Given the restaurant’s prime location in a picturesque beach town, within an easy drive from Bilbao, it became one of the go to spots to enjoy a nice meal and some fine wine along the Basque coast. High powered executives, winery presidents and well heeled families all came to dine here, and over time a huge cellar of fine Riojas was accumulated; some wines were literally purchased by the pallet for long term cellaring. While the restaurant was sold some years ago, the original owner did not sell most of the inventory, and still has thousands of bottles stored in their original cellar, built into a hillside along the Cantabrian Sea. We have visited the cellar, and have enjoyed Riojas from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and ‘90s from this collection, on both sides of the Atlantic.

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