Catalonia and the Empordà have been the ‘secret’ playground for dedicated amateur and pro cyclists in recent years for a reason - peaceful roads, remote mountain trails, coastal vistas and some gnarly climbs if you want them. With mixture of terrain and spectacular routes to choose from, it is best to base your decision on where you would like to have a mid-morning pitstop, a lingering lunch, or spend the next night of your trip.
Red, red wine
Flanked by the glittering Mediterranean and the imposing Pyrenees, Nuria and Diego of Mas Estela winery would tell you there are few better spots to produce (or drink) a bottle of full-bodied red than Alt Empordà. The tramuntana winds from the north means the vines never get too warm while the Mediterranean climate works the grapes to ensure Empordan wines are full of character and bursting with flavour. Recently, family vineyards have started bottling innovative wines of surprising quality. Produced on a small scale and purchased locally, you can enjoy them for a slice of the price you would expect to pay in the UK.
Surf and turf
Alt Empordà and Baix Empordà form the northeastern knuckle of Catalonia, a knuckle that boasts beautiful national parks, quaint seaside towns and the most eastern point of the Iberian Peninsula. With quality land and sea produce so readily available, Catalan cuisine has an inimitable identity that has transformed it into a recognised leader on the international gastronomy scene. Michelin starred restaurants or rustic picnics in vineyards, you decide….
Take it Olive it...
Rugged coastline, soaring mountains and the rich surrounding rural plains present a variety of soil types in the Empordà that lend themselves to the production of wine, olive oil and first rate fruit and veg. Olive oil is in a similar position to wine 20 years ago – there is a growing interest and appreciation of its production, varying olive types and different tastes. Marti Clos from Clos de la Torre has olive oil groves dotted around Alt Emporda and is producing delicious virgin olive oils – a top spot for a tapas picnic and tasting session.
Hidden Gems through local knowledge
A rustic, unassuming 17th century converted manor house nestled away in the foothills of the Gavarres National Park, and an undeniably extravagant, yet utterly impressive modern piece of underground architecture, right next to each other? Finca Bell Lloc and Cellar Brugarol are without doubt two highlights of Baix Empordà. Catalan architecture regularly impresses and is most apparent in Empordanet, the zone of rural plains between Alt & Baix Empordà, where a string of charming medieval villages lie next to one another – perfect stomping ground for a lunchtime feed after a morning on the bike….