Navarra Wine Lovers Tasting at Pierre Loti Chelsea, May 20 2018
Thank you to the NYC wine lovers at Pierre Loti for spending a Sunday afternoon with us! Guests learned about the region, the wineries and discovered their style of wine, sipping their way through Navarra and tasting the authentic Spanish cheeses and meats by Despaña.
Wines presented were from these family-run wineries:
- Castillo de Monjardin: Chardonnay El Cerezo & Garnacha La Cantera
- Bodega Inurrieta: Orchidea, Laderas de Inurrieta, Cuatrocientos, Altos de Inurrieta
- Bodegas Ochoa: Calendas Blanco & Tempranillo Crianza
- Bodega Otazu: Chardonnay, Rosé, Premium Cuvee, Señorío de Otazu
Señorío de Otazu and Broiled Skirt Steak with Romesco Sauce
Written by Nicole Ruiz Hudson
I’m a big fan of Spanish wines. I think they tend to be great food wines, and I think they’re also extremely underrated. All together that means that Spain is also a great place to look for wine values.
Looking back through the posts I’ve shared here, I’m actually surprised to realize I haven’t posted much from Spain (other than the Ameztoi Txakolina Rosé I described here.) I have a few Spanish wines in the hopper for the coming months and I’ve certainly had quite a few amongst my 8 & 20’s (I will drop some links at the end), but somehow, they’ve been missing from this lineup. We’re going to correct that right now.
Today we’re exploring Navarra in the northern part of the country. The region runs from the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains and over to the Ebro river, just across from Rioja.
Navarra has largely been overshadowed by its neighbor, but it is definitely worth getting to know. The region has been recognized in the past for its rosés–or rosados in Spanish–which are still really tasty! However, the region began to up plantings of Tempranillo and international varieties like Cab and Merlot in the 1980’s. You’ll also find some excellent Grenache. It was the driver behind all that great rosado in the past, but now the some of those vines (or those that remain) are all grown up and producing some excellent old vine Garnacha.
Winemaking here goes way back as well. Catholics would pass through the area while making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, where it’s said that the remains of St. James the Apostle are buried. These travellers wanted wine. Demand was so high that in the 14th century, restrictions had to be placed on the number of vineyards popping up to ensure that there was enough farmland to grow grains for food.
Summer season’s most intriguing wines come from one of Spain’s undiscovered areas: Navarra. Located in the north of Spain just outside of Madrid, its provincial capital is Pamplona, made famous by the Ernest Hemingway novel “The Sun Also Rises” and the festival at the town of Los Sanfermines and the celebrated annual running of the bulls.
The sheer variety and complexity of the wines, not to mention the exceptional value, makes these wines perfect for summer and the wide variety of dishes to be served at garden parties, al fresco cafes, and barbecues. The wines are exceptional and selling at bargain prices. Get in on the fun or lose out once they catch on and prices start to skyrocket as in all things worthy!
Chicago’s Bernie’s Lunch and Supper rooftop deck in the restaurant mecca of River North was the setting for a lavish Grand Tasting of wines from a Baker’s Dozen of wineries from D.O. Navarra, Spain. The wines ran the gamut from crisp, fruity Chardonnays to robust Crianza’s.
Navarra is known as “the garden of Spain.” Made famous by its quality products and sheep’s milk cheeses, it is also praised for its superb vineyards, cultivated for more than 300 years since the arrival of monks during the Crusades of the Middle Ages. Multiple microclimates and a confluence of unique terroir produced vineyards that create an abundance of ‘international’ grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay as well as hearty and flavorful local varieties such as Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache).
Winemakers from Navarra were at the rooftop lounge at Bernie’s Lunch and Supper in River North to present their wines. Among them were such historic vineyards as Castilla de Monjardin. Tucked away in the foothills of the Pyrenees along France’s border, the winery was founded in 1988 by the Del Villar-Olano family. Winemaker Victor del Villar Olano was on hand to personally pour his selection of wines, ranging from his unoaked 2017 El Cerezo Chardonnay ($12.99) to 2014 Reserva Cabernet ($14.99) . The wines displayed exceptional character, particularly the 2017 La Cantera Garnacha Old Vines. This jammy, red wine displayed all of the bright fruit and balanced structure that belies its youth. With flavors of ripe red cherries and raspberries backed by a hint of spiciness, the wines are a perfect match for grilled meats and barbecue. I defy you to find another red wine of such depth and complexity at this price.
The Spanish wine region of Navarra is hosting a “Land of Diversity & Wine Styles” Grand Tasting in Chicago on May 8th at Bernie’s Lunch & Supper. In addition to a seminar on the diverse terroir and three climates found in Navarra winemakers from 13 wineries will be pouring at a walk-around tasting. Interestingly, Navarra USA is promoting the wines in part by teaming up with “The Pintxo Trail, Pamplona,” a culinary guidebook to the bitesize, not-exactly-tapas culinary jewels found in the region. Traditionally, a toothpick “pinches” the food, hence the name “pintxos,” and guests are charged based on the number of toothpicks left on the plate.