The flavours of La Hoya de Huesca
Gastronomy is one of La Hoya de Huesca's main values. Here food is not just for show, rather it is actually part of the cultural heritage and a genuine trademark of the region. This privileged and generous land gathers all the factors that identify the source of a product and allow for each dish to demonstrate the authenticity of the local cuisine. However, gastronomy is the result of a previous effort, of a knowledge that stems from the soil, the agriculture and the product. This is where it all begins.
La Hoya de Huesca is one of those locations, and already in past times it carried out that magical process that transform grapes into wine. The region's wine past lives on in our memory, and at present that ancient trade has spread throughout the vineyards in these lands. It is now stronger than ever.
At present there are eight active wineries in the territory, all of which are relatively new. In little over a decade, these establishments have positioned Wine from the Ribera del Gállego-Cinco Villas as a delicacy that arouses interest and admiration in equal proportions.
Part of La Hoya de Huesca is enclosed within the limits of one of these six wine-making locations of the Vino de la Tierra from Aragon: the Ribera del Gállego-Cinco Villas. As regards the Laurentine territory, this protected area encompasses the municipalities of Agüero, Alcalá de Gurrea, Almudévar, Ayerbe, Biscarrués, Gurrea de Gállego, La Sotonera, Loarre, Loscorrales and Lupiñén-Ortilla. Although not all grow grapes and produce wine, Murillo de Gállego, Ayerbe, Morán and Almudévar do produce excellent wine.
All the wineries in the territory offer a varied catalogue, including traditional stocks like Macabeo and Grenache Blanca –white grapes– and Moristel, Tempranillo, Mazuela and Grenache –red grapes– and other French varieties: Viognier (white) and Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah (red). Using the heritage of these smallish, well-managed vineyards, these famed wineries produce wines ranging from fresh, youthful whites to sweet, aromatic rosés. The region offers a host of red wines, older or younger, more or less intense, and even a few rarities which are hard to find in Aragon.
The southernmost winery in La Hoya de Huesca is called Bodega Virgen de la Corona and located in Almudévar. It was created in 2005 after the first harvest. The company focuses on the Grenache variety and produces three wines under the generic brand of Aixena. Of the four wine producing companies, Almudévar's is located outside the circle of the Reino de los Mallos, whilst the others are all close to each other. All verge on the waters of river Gállego.
Bodegas y Viñedos Edra, located near the town centre of Ayerbe, is a pioneer in these lands. It was established in 1999 after the vineyard was planted, embarked on the construction of the winery in 2004, and saw its efforts realised two years later when it marketed modern, structured wines with a strong personality.
The history of grapes and vineyards leads on to Pegalaz, a modern winery located in Morán in a building looking out over the Mallos de Riglos. In fact, they named their brand after one of the huge rocks: Firé.
Bodegas y Viñedos Reino de los Mallos
Edra Bodegas y Viñedos, S.L.
Bodega Pegalaz, S.L.
Ctra. A-1202, km 7. Desvío ermita Santa Quitera. 22806. Santa Eulalia de Gállego (Zaragoza). | Tel.: 625 643 440
Bodega Lasierra, S.L.
Bodega Bespén Vinos, S.L.
Bodegas Valdovinos, S.L.
Calle Pena 11. Lupiñén. (Huesca). | Tel.: 974 270 151
** Along this same line, Almudévar has a thematic wine museum: “El Bodegón”
Almudévar. Tel. 974 250 002
- La Hoya de Huesca accommodates six oil mills, which are located in the villages of Los Molinos de Sipán, Bespén, Bolea, Ayerbe and Almudévar. The main varieties used for oil production are Empeltre, Verdeña and Negral.
On this matter, do not miss the visit to the Molino del Viñedo, in Castilsabás, an ethnographic space to show the process of this ancient labours.
- Good products, good service: the region also accommodates some of the restaurants in ragon ranked highest in gastronomic routes. Namely, Lillas Pastia, Las Torres –both in Huesca–, and La Venta del Sotón –in Esquedas. The recipe for roast hen from Casbas dates back from the 15th century, when it was documented by Ruperto de Nola, King Ferdinand of Naples' chef.
- The city of Huesca has always been known for its extraordinary cuisine. A simple stroll around the streets reveals the importance of eating and drinking in the region. Sit down to a table-cloth meal in a restaurant, order some snacks at the bar... Whichever the style, they all go down fine in the capital.
The haute cuisine from the region started to stand out a long time ago. Chefs as prestigious as Antonio Arazo, Carmelo Bosque, Sergio Azagra, Ana Acín, Darío Bueno y Rafael Abadía –or as highly remembered as Fernando Abadía– have positioned top quality gastronomy on the menu in Huesca. Huesca was actually the first city in Aragon to accommodate a restaurant honoured with the famed Michelin stars.
Huesca's gastronomic establishments include a mouth-watering range of options. Patisseries that preserve a renovated classical style, long-standing convenience stores, stores specialising in meat cuttings and other regional products, wineries and other establishments that position the capital as a place where shopping means more than stocking up on supplies.
The city already offered a vast selection of eating out varieties when a trend for another type of establishment set in. It was time for the rule of the tapas bars. Going out for tapas is an attraction that appeals to both visitors and denizens, and every dish seems to have its sized-down version. Huesca organises an annual tapas competition which attracts a high number of punters which attest to how much people enjoy eating standing up.
Two appointments you should not miss:
Bolea and the Cherry Fair
Bolea and the crop area creates one of the most stunning ephemeral spring spectacles in La Hoya de Huesca in late May and early June. This stunning sight occurs when the 60 ha. of cherry trees are in full bloom and covered in white flowers. The region can account for around 400,000 kilos of cherries a year and the Cherry Fair takes place in the midst of the harvesting of the different varies. On the Sunday closest to June 13, Bolea's Plaza Mayor (main square) is packed with stalls selling over 30 cherry varieties. The most acclaimed variety is called “garrafal de Monzón” or “garrafal de Napoleón.” Travellers who time their visit to coincide with this fair should also know that this type of cherries are also known in the region under the name “morrovaca.”
Ayerbe Mycology Fair
Aragon is known for its wild mushrooms, and La Hoya de Huesca contributes more than just a pinch. Given the abundance of wild mushrooms in certain areas in Ayerbe, in 1990 the village inaugurated what would become one of the most prestigious fairs devoted to this delicacy in the whole of the region.
The fair is staged during the last week of October –it appears on Aragon's official fair calendar–, and hosts exhibitions of over one hundred species classified by expert mycologists from the region. Furthermore, during those three days, the Fair also includes an intense programme of activities with outings, conferences and round tables, cookery courses, tasting and a host of other options.