It is quite a task to present a guide -although it is inevitably partial, that this world is wide- of the restaurants with the best wineries and wine lists in Spain. And, from the outset, and perhaps somewhat tangling the road, we must propose a definition: What is a large restaurant cellar?

Restaurants have changed and diversified a lot, and the world of wine has done the same in an era of recovery or reinvention of traditions, more "natural" wines and challenges to the great ones of always. Thus, in Spain the large wineries that seemed an exclusive of the most expensive, luxurious and Frenchified restaurants and consisted essentially of great famous brands of Rioja and Ribera del Duero - they were times of "the best white is a red" - have diversified while sommeliers were better trained and customers discovered those wines reborn from areas throughout Spain, in addition to the international ones.

Some large dining cellars remain within those limited, albeit luxurious, parameters, but the renovation of the best of the more classic restaurants has also included this expansion. Of course: you will always find in their menus many more French champagnes than wines from any Spanish region that is not... Rioja or Ribera, of course. For us, these are no longer great wine lists, and we try to focus on those that have not focused exclusively on famous names for decades.

Juan Manuel del Rey offers in Corral de la Morería the most complete Andalusian fortified wine list in the world.

Another genre that escapes this definition: those wine bars or wine bars that do not offer cuisine, but only some sausages or preserves to accompany the glass. The same, with wine shops that offer some cold bites, as is the case today of Madrid's Lavinia. We refer to restaurants with hot cuisine, and -yes- qualifying them for their cellar and not for the refinement or price of that cuisine.

The best examples of great wineries, of almost legendary wineries, are for us these, with great diversity in culinary refinement, luxury and price: El Celler de Can Roca, Rekondo, Bodega Cigaleña, Atrio, García de la Navarra, Villa Más, Quique Dacosta, Taberna Laredo, Leña (in Marbella and Madrid) or Coque.

A common characteristic: the sommelier is in each case a passionate and a wine scholar, but does not intend to overwhelm the customer or automatically direct him to the most expensive. For example, Pitu Roca in El Celler de Can Roca or José Antonio Navarrete in Quique Dacosta are friendly and didactic, and add something to the pleasure of the table.

El Celler de Can Roca (Carrer de Can Sunyer, 48, Gerona. Tel.: 972 22 21 57), with its three Michelin stars and the fine and sincere cuisine of Joan Roca, is probably the most famous restaurant in Spain. The winery managed by his brother Josep, Pitu, is at the same sidereal height.

Dining room of El Celler de Can Roca.

Rekondo (Igeldo Pasealekua, 57, San Sebastián. Tel.: 943 21 29 07) is the most classic of the classics, and also the first Basque restaurant that became as famous for its cellar as for its cuisine, with the most impressive offer of old vintages of the largest Riojas.

Bodega Cigaleña (Daoíz y Velarde, 19, Santander. Tel.: 942 210 184) is a jewel with its old-fashioned Castilian style, its cuisine and the best offer in the world, possibly, of the wines of a French region until recently almost secret, the Jura, and today mythical. Its best producers, from Ganevat to Macle, consider Andrés Conde, the patron of this house, as their true guru. And many Burgundians too.

Atrio(Plaza de San Mateo, 1, Cáceres. Tel.: 927 24 29 28), the fantastic hotel-restaurant of José Polo and Toño Pérez, was already famous for its cuisine, its Michelin stars and its tremendous wine cellar before the famous robbery of which they were victims. But they still offer thousands of liquid treasures: 17 vintages of the Montrachet of La Romanée-Conti, for example. None of them for less than 10,500 euros, yes...

García de la Navarra (Montalbán, 3, Madrid. Tel.: 91 523 36 47) is a bar, a simple dining room, with the great cuisine of Pedro and the great wines of his brother Luis, who has been president of the sommeliers of Madrid. There are not thousands of references, but many hundreds and with a spectacular combination of geographical variety and quality.

Atrio Winery, in Cáceres.

Villa Mas (Passeig de Sant Pol, 95, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Gerona.Tel.: 972 82 25 26), this wonderful place facing the Mediterranean is something very simple: the embassy of Burgundy in Spain. Few restaurants anywhere offer a comparable list of bottles of what, for many wine fans, is the world's premier region.

Quique Dacosta (Carrer Rascassa, 1, Denia, Alicante. Tel.: 965 78 41 79) is another legendary three stars, and its very complete winery ranges from the Espectacle, the red that showed that in the Montsant they can be as big as in the Priorat, to generous old people like that Veracruz Cuatro Cortados, from De la Riva, a chamomile from Sanlúcar with 117 years of old age,

Taberna Laredo (Doctor Castelo, 330, Madrid. Tel.: 91 573 30 61) is, yes, a tavern (of great cuisine), but also the refuge of all the wine madmen of the capital, with that winery particularly rich in great Burgundy, from the Clos de Vougeot of Confuron-Cotétidot to the Clos de la Roche of Ponsot.

Firewood (Puente Romano Beach Resort, Marbella. Tel.: 952 76 42 52. Castellana, 57, Madrid. Tel.: 91 108 55 66) is, in two places, the temple of embers within the emporium built by Dani García, who went from great chef to great hotelier. In addition, its wine list -consult it on the Internet- is magnificent, with details such as the best wines of Tenerife.

Bodega Cigaleña, in Santander.

Coque (Marqués de Riscal, 11, Madrid. Tel.: 91 604 02 02), which we met more than 20 years ago in Humanes, is in Madrid not only the luxury setting, the delicate cuisine of Mario Sandoval, but the tremendous cellar -have a drink in it- directed by his brother Rafael.

Corral de la Morería (La Morería, 17, Madrid. Tel.: 913 65 11 37) caused astonishment when it was relaunched by adding a great kitchen -with immediate Michelin star- next to its fantastic flamenco shows. And he did something that is less mentioned: the most complete of great – and old – generous Andalusian wines anywhere. Good opportunity to take them accompanying the dishes, something too rare even in Spain.

Ca Pepico (Mediterráneo, 1, Alquería de Roca, Valencia. Tel.: 961 49 13 46) has been discovered by the great Valencian winemaker Javier Revert, enthusiast of the house. Its co-owner Pep Ferrer runs the living room and wines and his sister commands the kitchen. It has a carefully elaborated list with great references from Burgundy, Jura, Loire and, of course, Spain. In addition, the prices are very contained.

Finally, let us mention some names of merit very similar to those mentioned, of which it will be necessary to give details with more space: L'Escaleta (Cocentaina, Alicante), Berria (Madrid), Las Esparteras (Casarrubios del Monte, Toledo), Venta Moncalvillo (Daroca de Rioja), Remenetxe (Muxika, Vizcaya), Taberna der Guerrita (Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz), Gresca (Barcelona), Angelita (Madrid), Tavella (Valencia), La Masía de Chencho (Elche, Alicante).

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