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.