On Monday, May 23, a small but influential group of Princeton, New Jersey food and wine professionals–including wine retailers, sommeliers, events coordinators and even a prominent food-literacy advocate from Princeton University, 13 guests in all–joined Wines of Navarra at Mediterra restaurant, located in the heart of downtown Princeton, for a tasting of 12 DO Navarra whites and reds, paired alongside Mediterra’s “wherever-the-olive-grows” seasonal Mediterranean fare.
Guest reactions to the wines were overwhelemingly positive, with Castillo de Monjardín‘s Deyo Merlot and Bodega Otazu‘s Premium Cuvée the consensus favorites, though all agreed that the wines in general were a lovely fit, not only with the food being served but also with the Princeton wine market at large. As one guest astutely observed, outside marketers often erroneously assume that local residents and Ivy League college students have loads of money to spend, that they’re on the hunt for premium purchases, be it wine or other goods. This is not the case in this very traditional university town, he pointed out, and so many of those marketing efforts fail.
So what what do Princeton residents want?
“Great quality, great value,” he replied. “And [Navarra] wines are the perfect fit.”
Our mini-tour of Texas ended in Dallas with a meaty-delicious dinner at Filament, a hot Downtown newcomer that has a way with a wood grill. Another successful pairing excursion for Wines of Navarra! An accomplished roster of some of Dallas’s top wine professionals–including wine buyers for a major supermarket chain, the principals for a sommelier-for-hire startup (great business idea!) and an English-born, Texas-based wine writer–all heaped praise on the wines’ overall quality and its uncanny affinity for the smoky grilled steaks, pork chops and chicken turned out by Filament’s talented kitchen brigade.
Taking a more informal approach, we traded out the usual phalanx of glassware for just two stems per attendee; guests were provided with information for each wine, each tasted sequentially between bites in simple alphabetical order by winery and evaluated/discussed by our guests, before they dumped, rinsed and moved on, always being given the option to return back to a wine previously tasted.
There were some real stunners among the impromptu food-and-wine pairings, and the night was a triumphant finale to Navarra’s peaceful liquid invasion of the Lone Star State.
The Madison, 307 W 5th St, Austin, TX. Friday, April 22.
While the rain-saturated grounds of Austin’s Auditorium Shores and Republic Square Park forced the unfortunate cancellation of all outdoor programming at this year’s Austin Food + Wine Festival, Friday night’s indoor Social Hour, held at The Madison Bar in Downtown Austin, proceeded as planned, with Navarra the sole wine being poured at the event.
With DO Navarra wines displayed and poured at two bars, and servers passing glasses of wine throughout the expansive room, some 250 attendees sampled 19 different wines all night, tasting a little slice of northern Spain while a local DJ kept the records spinning, a vibrant and youthful vibe permeating the scene.
The show must go on, as they say…Despite the disappointing news that the Austin Food+Wine Festival would be cancelled this year due to inclement weather, on Thursday, April 21 we went ahead anyway with our planned trade dinner at one of the hottest new eateries to open in Austin in the past year: North Austin’s Bullfight Restaurant.
And it’s a good thing we did! Seated outside on a gorgeous evening (before the storm), our cozy group of nine Texas wine professionals enjoyed an array of ‘thoughtfully modernized Spanish classics’ (as Bullfight describes its cuisine), served by an extraordinarily friendly and accommodating staff, and paired, of course, with nearly two dozen wines from Spain’s exceptionally diverse ‘kingdom’ of wine: DO Navarra.
Not surprisingly, there were many spot-on food and wine matches to be enjoyed and much conviviality in the air. As evening turned to night, you’d be forgiven if, for a few moments, you half-expected to see a group of pilgrims wander into the place, weary from a day walking the Camino de Santiago and eager for an exceedingly sumptuous and restorative repast, which they’d find, in abundance, the night Navarra met Bullfight under Texas stars.