Posted by: tomciocco | January 15, 2011

NAVARRA: ALWAYS IN THE MIDDLE

At times in history, the Spanish region of Navarra was just an appendage to Aragon or Castile or Leon. At others, the Kingdom of Navarra was the dominant polital and cultural power, and it was the ruler of  these three neighbors, and several others as well.

And even down to this day, Navarra is still being pulled in several directions – part of it – Basse Navarre, is now in France, and is decidedly Basque in every way, but beginning with Pamplona as the epicenter (not so surprising, right?), and heading south, modern day southern Navarra is contested by Basque unionists and very pro-Madrid proudly Spanish citizens who want no part of Euskadi or anything Basque at all…

So in this upland, often harsh perpetual march-land, it should come as no surprise that the  wine culture is a distillation of all of the ethnicities and political structures that have overlapped here for centuries. This wine from the area around Olite in Navarra’s southernmost point, is a blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo that clearly shows the sunny/cold/arid nature of the land here.

The dinner that went with this wine was a doozy…Jen had bought me a glass jar of Bonito de Getaria (tuna from the Basque coast) for Christmas, chunks of which I placed atop a mince-up of piquillo pepper, capers, olives, orange zest, etc., which was spread on thickish slices of chewy bread. The main course was a dish of roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with a hash of Serrano ham, ground beef, herbs and veggies, that are then floured, egged, fried, and drained and then baked, covered with a (home made) salsa espanola (puree of carrots, onions, stock, sherry, etc.)…This was a dish that seemed like I was never going to finish getting together, but the time and the effort was worth it… 

Siete 7 Navarra D.O. 2008   (Garnacha/Tempranillo)

Blackish crimson deep garnet color. Deep, rich, and minerally nose of  smokey and intense raspberry jelly aromas, with supporting notes of tree sap and cooked chicken liver. The palate holds a round, smooth explosion of clean and clear strawberry and maraschino cherry fruit and a touch of sweet brown spices set in a supple, but still firm structure. Tidy, juicy finish. A direct, easy-going, but bold wine  with a lovely, elegant veil.

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