Trip report May 2024

All 33 participants were on board the “wine bus” at 8.30 sharp on Tuesday 7th May for the trip to Costers del Segre in the Province of Lleida in Catalunya.

We were headed to the small town of Balaguer, the capital of the Noguera region.  It is located beside the river Segre, a tributary of the Ebro, which gives its name to the DO.  The town was re-conquered from the Moors in 1106 by the Count of Urgell and its historic centre is one of the few that have retained the original Moorish plan with the market place being the largest porched square in Catalunya.

After a stop for breakfast we moved on and arrived at Bodega Clos Montblanc for our first tasting.

We first visited this bodega in the DO of Conca de Barbera in 2002 and returned for a second visit in 2011 on our way to another region.  They have 80 hectares under cultivation with 15 different grape varieties producing 15 different wines and various cavas with a winemaking history going back 300 years.

The wines we tasted were:

  • Xipella White  2023  €9.00
  • G de Gormand  2021                                                    €9.75
  • Clos Montblanc Origen                                                €11.70
  • Masia Les Comes Reserva 2017                                €18.50
  • Inici €26.00

After time to buy wines and load them into the coach we proceeded to our Hotel al Santuari. In the evening we enjoyed a delightful spread of appetisers with local wines on the terrace overlooking the town followed by an excellent dinner in the hotel.

On Wednesday we made the short trip to our first visit of the day Bodega Lagravera.

This was a bit of an adventure as our hosts had decided we should meet out in the vineyards which are a few km’s from the bodega. The tasting team hadn’t visited the vineyard before so we relied on a pin sent by WhatsApp. We were a little anxious as we travelled on increasingly small roads with no sign of vineyards. However we found our destination and it was well worth it. This was a fascinating visit where we had an in depth presentation on the experiments being carried out to let nature do the work and avoid chemicals. The emphasis is on sustainability and bio-dynamic cultivation. Much of the work is based on science but, it was admitted, certain processes are more to do with myth than science.

 The wines tasted were:

  • Onra Blanco  , Garnacha Blanca               €11.75
  • Ciclic Blanco, Garnacha Blanca                €23.85 
  • Onra Tinto 2018 barrel aged                      €11.75
  • Ciclic Tinto 2018 aged in foudres             €24.32          

Onward then to our second bodega:-

Bodegas Raimat

We arrived here planning to have lunch first in the Bodega’s vineyard restaurant. After about 15 minutes of “off road” driving (in a coach!!) we found our destination and were treated to a wonderful lunch in a beautiful restaurant overlooking the vineyards and surrounding countryside.

Following lunch we boarded the coach again for the short trip to the bodega.

The bodega was established in 1914 when Manuel Raventós I Domenech, of the Cordoniu bodega, bought 3,200 hectares of land near Lleida.  The actual bodega now bears little resemblance to the original buildings.  Above the doorway is a symbol showing a hand holding a bunch of grapes.  In Catalan the words grapes /Raim and hand/ Ma gave the bodega its name.

The wines we tasted were

  • Raimat Albariño                                            €7.61/ Case €43.08
  • Raimat Abadia, Rosado                              €7.16/ Case €40.56
  • Raimat Cabernet Sauvignon                      €7.61/ Case €43.08
  • El Silenci del Moli                                        €10.76/ Case €60.96
  • Raimat Cava Chardonnay/Xarello             €9.86/ Case €55.86

After our tasting and buying we returned to the hotel. Some of the group stayed in the comfort of the hotel terrace whilst others wandered down the steep path to the town to enjoy the lovely old town.

On Thursday morning the plan was to take the coach down to the town and allow people to spend some time there. Many people wanted to walk from the hotel so a meeting point in town was agreed. Some walked from the hotel and others from the coach drop. It seemed most wanted to have a look in the church so both parties converged on each other in the middle! Sadly the church was closed until 11.00, however Tim spotted the Church Officer going in a side door and did his usual “chatty man” and gained us access.

After coffee we regrouped at the coach for the short trip to:

Bodega Castell del Remei

This beautiful Bodega claims to be the oldest in Catalunya. We visited in 2011 since when they have improved their facilities considerably.  The old castle which gives the bodega its name still dominates the winery.  It was built at the end of the 19th century as part of the most important agricultural colony of the time with a mill, distillery, bottling and blacksmith workshops.

This was a visit with a difference as we enjoyed a presentation, by the lake, on the history of the bodega then had a trip into the beautiful church in the grounds. It was so nice to have such a different presentation. We then moved to the tasting room and enjoyed our tasting before moving to the restaurant for what was supposed to be a “light lunch”. It turned out to be anything but light however was enjoyed by all.

   The wines we tasted, in addition to those tasted at lunch, were:

  • Gotim Blanc                                       €7.55
  • ODA Blanc:                                        €11.95
  • Garnatxa Castell del Remei:          €14.60
  • ODA:                                                  €13.85

On Tim’s recommendation several of us also bought bottles of Cervolles. We were generously offered 10% discount on all purchases.

That evening we gathered for drinks and nibbles on the terrace where Neville thanked the wine trip team for their hard work in making a successful trip and presented them with some bottles of wines as a thankyou.

Our final dinner was held in Restaurante Cal Xiricclo in Balaguer. Sadly we had all eaten so much lunch we did not do this meal justice but the food and wine were both plentiful and excellent.

On our final day we left the hotel for our last Bodega visit:-

Bodega Vinya els Vilars  


This small, family run bodega to the east of the region offers good quality wines at competitive prices.  The lovely Maria and her son Gerard gave us a fascinating tour of their facilities set in the beautiful Catalan countryside.  We then adjourned to their lovely tasting room for another great tasting.

The wines we tasted were:        

  • Quim Blanco 2023            €10.50
  • Nena Rosado 2023            €10.00
  • Vilars 2021 Tinto                €11.00

We left and, after two stops, arrived back in Javea at around 18.30 where the process of moving wine from bus to car got quickly into full swing.

It seems that everyone agreed it had been a great trip. The bodegas were all very different but equally interesting. The company was excellent and it was a good opportunity to catch up and for some members to meet people they had not got to know before.