While I was in Navarra this summer, I was told that, due to fierce competition from other Spanish wine regions (as well as European and New World wines) there has been a push for quality since 2007, and I found plenty of evidence to back this up. Briefly, here is what is going on at a sampling of wineries in Navarra.
The nose is rich—mulberry, unsweetened chocolate, and a ripe, meaty, gaminess. The Cabernet Franc leads on the attack, more blackberry than mulberry, with tobacco leaf and unsweetened chocolate. Merlot takes over on the mid-palate, softening to a silky mouthfeel and offering hints of red fruit and fine, dusty tannins. The finish is mid-length with lingering tastes of unsweetened chocolate. Drink with bacon-wrapped filet. Highly Recommended. DH
The nose is rich - mulberry, unsweetened chocolate, and a ripe, meaty, gaminess. The cabernet franc leads on the attack, more blackberry than mulberry, with tobacco leaf and unsweetened chocolate. Merlot takes over on the mid-palate, softening to a silky mouthfeel and offering hints of red fruit and fine, dusty tannins. The finish is mid-length with lingering tastes of unsweetened chocolate. Drink with bacon-wrapped filet. Highly Recommended. DH
If you live near a Costco you know where this is going. “Kirkland” is Costco’s proprietary brand for everything from soup to nuts (and I mean that literally). They market a “Kirkland Signature Wine Collection” whereby they slap their own label on wines, and some of them are quite good and represent excellent value. This Meritage is a classic Bordeaux blend. The nose is slightly herbal and gives off whiffs of boysenberry and cedar. The flavors are of blackberry and there is perhaps a shade too much oak. The merlot comes on strong, almost overtaking the cabernet sauvignon, but the fruit is quite nice. A tad one-dimensional, but still very pleasant, and an absolute bargain for the price and quality. Nice with simple grilled meats. Recommended. GT
Again, we tasted a slightly younger wine at the estate than the vintage currently available (2006). This is a bright, youthful wine but with plenty of weight nevertheless. Cherry, pepper, and earth come through on the nose. Chocolate and berry flavors flow across the palate, and the finish is long. Very pleasant now but could still benefit from some more time. Let it breathe a bit. Highly recommended. GT
The ’09 is not yet released, but is an absolute stunner. Tasted at a lunch with several of Olivier’s wines, so used the ’07 (an exceptional year in many regions of Italy) as a comparison benchmark. The ’07 was made just before Olivier took over, but the ’09 is wholly his own. The 2009 exhibited a youthful nose, but undertones of forest and mushrooms. Silken on the palate, it is a teaser of what may come as the fruit remains somewhat hidden. Luxurious finish. Can’t wait for this to be released. The ’07 is more developed and more complex at this stage than its younger brother, with a less perfumed nose but great blackberry and peppery notes on the end. I highly recommend both, but that ’09 strikes me as a potential classic. (The ’06, also lovely, is available through its importer, Lyaeus Imports in Washington D.C.) GT
The farming families along the Coastal Wine Trail are building on the foundation that New England has been producing wine since the first settlers arrived from Europe almost 400 years ago.
This still-young wine spent 18-22 months in new barrels. Soft tannins outweigh acids. Primary flavors are tart red fruit, cranberry and rhubarb, with some dark cherry in the background, evolving toward darker fruits followed by unsweetened chocolate on the finish. Overall mouth-feel was rich. Recommended.