When a wine shipment didn’t arrive in time for a scheduled party, we decided to “go rogue.” The results were delightful – six wines we recommend for your springtime sipping.
Two days before our party, I had a sinking feeling. The special shipment of wine that was going to be the centerpiece of our soiree hadn’t arrived. There were no messages from UPS or Fed-X. When I contacted the shipper, she explained that there was an unfortunate mistake. Yikes!
While our tasting was to focus on a very specific wine region, that was now off the table. We had to “go rogue.” I immediately surveyed the available wine and picked a half-dozen bottles certain to scintillate our guests.
2018 Ochoa Calendas, Navarra and 2016 Inurrieta Mimaò Garnacha, Navarra
Navarra is a northern Spanish wine region known for its beauty and diverse terroir. It is also home of the famous Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) which influenced many winegrowers to use French grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Ochoa Calendas is a blend of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Viura, a well respected white grape. We paired this with pan seared salmon with lemon garlic cream sauce. This is a nice blend, with the Viura adding freshness and nice acidity to balance the classic Chardonnay flavors. It was perfect with our salmon. A bargain at just $12 SRP.
Garnacha from Spain can often take on a rustic flavor, but the Inurrieta Mimaò is a smooth sipper. It is fermented in stainless steel and gets malolactic fermentation to add a plush texture. It is finished with seven months in French oak.
We found this to be a very pleasant surprise with mineral notes and plenty of ripe fruit. This reminded me of the French Grenache style, light, easy and very satisfying. This is also a steal at $15. We’ll be on the lookout for more wines from Navarra.
Spanish wines are a riddle, a puzzle and a huge question mark.
For over a century, the wine industry has known that Spain should be a top producer of wines, but unfortunately, the country has never lived up to its potential. It is only in recent times that Spanish wines have emerged from the shadows and gained the recognition they richly deserve.
Here are a couple Spanish wines of recent times that are worth a try.
Bodegas Castillo De MonJardin 2017 El Cerezo Pinot Noir ($12)
To some, this wine’s very affordable price tag might dissuade them from trying it because they believe it’s a cheap knockoff of the variety. Affordable, yes, but cheap, a great big no. The pinot noir grape is notoriously hard to deal with and also can turn on the winemaker at any time during the process. This wine offers everything that makes for a better pinot noir: an inviting ruby color, a firm body, a captivating aroma, a positive and definable flavor and a long, enduring finish, all wrapped in a smooth, velvet-like robe. The aroma displays fig, cranberry, cinnamon, nutmeg and oak. The flavor is about as classical as it can get, with black cherry, caramel, spice and a subtle hint of truffles. All of these carry over to the finish, where they linger on the palate for a long time. This wine proves pino noirs can be made in Spain and sell at an affordable price, too.
Bodegas Inurrieta Mimao 2016 Garnacha ($12)
The Bodegas Inurrieta winemakers have learned how to temper the garnacha’s tendency to also go off on its own and sometimes detrimental path, which was probably the basic problem with many of the Spanish wines of old. Wine made from the garnacha grape or, as it is called in France and California, grenache, produces wines with high concentrations of fruit, tannin and acids. The Bodegas Inurrieta Mimao 2016 Garnacha has been made from a variety which most often appears as a rose, but in this case, as a well-aged red wine. The aroma features strawberry and raspberry, with hints of citrus rind, and a suggestion of cranberry, cinnamon and white pepper continue on to the flavor and finish.