Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Navarra: Fruit, Spice and Everything NIce

We're going on an Italian hiatus this week and taking a short jaunt over to Spain to discover the Navarra. Spain has always been a top country selection for me in terms of value along with Italy. I was introduced to these wines by my blogger friend Susannah of Avvinare that is partnered with the Navarra DO so I was fortunate to sample through an array of wines including white and red wines. 

Wine tasting Navarra wines of Spain
The Navarra is located in northern Spain between Madrid and San Sebastian. The Pyrenees are found to the north and it's also in close proximity to the Ebro River. There is such a variety of topography between the Pyrenees, the Bardenas Reales desert and the Bay of Biscayne to the south. There are even 3 different types of climates as well including continental, Atlantic and Mediterranean. These are all major influences on the Navarra as a winemaking region. 
Wine tasting in the Navarra, Spain
The Navarra DO was established in 1933. About 11,000 hectares are under vine and a small portion of those are vines are 30+ year old. The wines of this region are primarily red totaling about 60% with rose' wines coming in at 30% and whites only at 10%. This area had always been known for it's rose' production. Majority of the wines produced (70%) are native grapes including garnacha and tempranillo mostly as well as others including viura, graciano and carinena. The other 30% are international grapes including cabernet sauvignon and merlot mostly with syrah, chardonnay and pinot noir.

Age Levels of Navarra Wine
Reading wine labels in another language can always be tricky. Here are some terms that will help you determine the aging of the wines:
  • Cosecha – a young wine
  • Tinto Roble – minimum of 90 days in the barrel
  • Crianza – minimum of 24 months aged with 9 months in the barrel
  • Riserva – minimum of 60 months aged with 12 months in the barrel
  • Gran Riserva – minimum of 60 months with 18 months in the barrel
  • Dulce Natural – sweet wine
Wines of the Navarra
Wines of Navarra Spain

2015 Bodegas Nekeas Vega Sindoa Tempranillo
  • Located in the Valley of Valdizarbe this wine is made of 100% tempranillo. An easy drinking wine with fresh blackberries, a hint of licorice and spice. SRP $9. ABV 14%
2015 Bodegas Camilo Castilla Moscatel
  • Located in the town of Corella in the Ribera Baja this wine is produced with moscatel de grano menudo grapes, or easier said moscatel. Pale yellow in the glass this wine had a very aromatic nose. It was clean, enjoyable wine with notes of peaches. ABV 12.5%
2013 Castillo Monjardin La Cantera Old Vine Garnacha
  • Ruby in color. A medium bodied, dry wine with baking spices, vanilla, cherries and plums with a decent finish. ABV 13.5%. SRP $9
2015 Bodegas Principe de Viana Graciano Roble
  • Deep red in color this wine is made of 100% graciano. It's a soft wine with rich fruits of plums, cherries and currants paired with some black pepper and a hint of minerality. ABV 13.5%.
2015 Bodegas Principe de Viana Garnacha Roble
  • 100% garnacha. Deep ruby red with lots of fresh red fruits with notes of vanilla. Easy drinking and a moderate finish. ABV 13.5% SRP $13
Bodegas Ochoa tempranillo garnacha2015 Bodegas Ochoa Tempranillo/Garnacha
  • Made of 70% tempranillo and 30% garnacha. Purple tinge demonstrating a younger wine. You get the tannin from the tempranillo and the ripe berries of the garnacha. SRP $15. ABV 13%.
Food Pairings with Wines of the Navarra
The Navarra DO recommends pairing these wines with the abundance of vegetables produced in the region including white asparagus and fire roasted piquillo peppers. Game, meats and lamb are a good selection for the hearty reds as well as foie gras, charcuterie, and shepherd cheeses of the region (roncal and idiazabal). 

Between the variety of soils, landscapes and microclimates there are a variety of wines for everyone to enjoy from this region and at great price points that won't break the bank. And if you need another reason to visit this region they are known for the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Now that would be a site to see!

*These wines were received as samples, but opinions are my own. Information and pictures sourced from the Wines of Navarra and Bodegas Ochoa.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

There is Prosecco and then there is Valdobbiadene Prosecco

This month our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is highlighting sparkling wines of Italy. The most widely known sparkling wine of Italy is prosecco, but there are many others that are worth recognizing, especially those of Franciacorta in Lombardy and those of Trento in the region of Trentino. Then you have those sparkling wines that are on the sweeter side like moscato d'asti and brachetto d'acqui. I've written about many of these in the past, but with prosecco being so widely produced and there being many inexpensive styles on the market it's important folks are aware of some of the best prosecco to seek out if you're desiring some Italian bubbly on your next visit to the wine store.
Sourced from Prosecco.It
There is prosecco and then there is Conegliano Valdobbiadene also known as just Valdobbiadene. The area of prosecco production is located in northeastern Italy within the Veneto region, but some of the top quality prosecco come from the hillside areas of Conegliano Valdobbiadene. To be labeled as a Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G the grapes must exclusively be grown here from the 15 communes. Prosecco is produced from the glera grape.The area became classified as a D.O.C.G in 2009, but was initially recognized in 1969. This area is also known for the first winemaking school of Italy that started in 1876 in the town of Conegliano. There are also frizzante and still versions, but they can't bear the superiore label.

To take it even further there is also the Rive DOCG, which consist of only 43 sites and has stricter regulations and very steep hills of high quality grapes that are picked by hand, and Superiore di Cartizze DOCG, the top cru site of the area.

I was able to sample a number of bottles from this area and shared some brief notes below. I'm not a huge sparkling wine lover, but I can appreciate quality when I taste it.
Prosecco Superiore from Conegliano Valdobbiadene
Carpene Malvotti 1868 Extra Dry Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore – This was was straw yellow in color with fine, lively bubbles. It showed soft fruits including pears and apples with a dry, good finish. SRP $18.99.

2015 Adriano Adami Vigneto Giardino Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore - This is a single vineyard cru from Colbertaldo di Vino. It's pale yellow in color with a fruity nose of apples and peaches. It had a rich mouthfeel with creaminess. Fresh and elegant. SRP $19.

2015 Ruggeri Vecchie Viti Prosecco Superiore Brut - As the name dictates, vecchie viti meaning old vines, these grapes come from about 80-100 year old vines. This wine is floraly with a creamy texture and lengthy finish. SRP $22

Borgoluce Rive di Collalto Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut – Straw yellow in color this is dry with good acid combined with notes of peach and pear. Lively bubbles that play on your tongue. SRP $25
 Borgoluce Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene
If you have doubted the quality of prosecco based on the ones you have tried that flood the markets, but haven't tried prosecco from this area I strongly recommend you try some and let me know what you think.

Here are the rest of my fellow bloggers look into sparkling Italian wines.  Check them out!

David Crowley of Cooking Chat  finds for us examples of “Italian Sparkling Wine Beyond Prosecco”
Here at Wine Predator we have “Three Trento Sparklers with Seafood Risotto for #ItalianFWT

Please join us for the twitter chat (#ItalianFWT) about Italian sparkling wine on Saturday May 6 from 11-12pm EST and check out our blogs!

These bottles were received as samples, but opinions are my own.

Information sourced from Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG.


*all wines were received as samples, but opinions are my own. Pictures were sourced from Balzac Communications and Locations Wine.