I love Spanish wines, so I was delighted when I received several wines from a PR Company representing a variety of wines from the northern region of the Spanish wine DO (Denomination of Origin) Navarra to try. Sometimes I review wines solo, sometimes I take them to my Women’s Wine Council. This time, I took six of the wines I received to the Council: Chardonnay, Rosé, Grenacha, Tempranillo, a red blend, and a Moscatel. The Council is made up of 5 writers and 2 “civilians.” It’s a high-spirited evening of give and take featuring complementary food, great friends, and certainly… independent opinions.
As a refresher, the northern region of the Spanish wine DO Navarra borders the Basque Country, Rioja, Aragón and the Pyrenees and includes both cooler mountainous areas and warm, sun-drenched fertile valleys which are significant influences for its wine styles. So a wide range of wines from fairly lean to full rich- bodied beauties can be found within the many wines offered. There’s been a recent promotional effort focused on this region to build a stronger image for it and get its wines noticed in the international market. After this tasting, I can see why, and I am glad to be part of the media group waving the flag for its future success.
1. Otazu Chardonnay 2009 - $12: Reminiscent on first swirl & sip of a Sauvignon Blanc. However, after a few minutes of rest out of the bottle, the more traditional virtues of a nice Chardonnay appeared. I liked the nose of fresh green apple, hints of fresh grass, and peach. The palate received what the nose detected. Nice acidity. Great summertime brunch wine. Try with smoked salmon, cantaloupe and quiche. My number 5 choice. Voted #5 by the group.
2. Torrecilla Rosé 2010 - $10: This wine had a soft voice. Drier in style with definite, but mellow strawberry overtones. It had good chemistry with Brie, a lighter smoked salmon, shrimp ceviche and chicken empanadas. Great spring, summer and fall wine. My number 6 choice. Voted #6 by the group.
3. Malon de Echaide Tinto Roble 2008: Made of 100% Grenacha, you had to love this wine just on sight alone—deep red cherry. Concentrated notes of black fruit and intriguing spice came up with the first swirl. A great wine to pair with some heartier foods like chocolaty brownies, smoked fish, and grilled meats. My number 3 choice. Voted #3 by the group.
4. Marco Real Crianza 2006 - $15: A blend of Cabernet 40%-Tempranillo 60% this wine had the best nose of the tasting, but was lighter on the plate then I expected. I did enjoy the vanilla and black berry notes. Very food friendly it goes well with a green olive tapenade, chicken empanadas, shrimp ceviche and rich spicy chocolate brownies. My number 2 choice. Voted # 3 by the group.
5. Inurrieta Sur (Blend of Garnacha, Syrah, Graciano) 2008 -$13: Hands down the winner for both me and the group. Raspberry and cherry flavors, smoky overtones, notes of vanilla, chocolate, spice and light oak. Will pair well with all sorts of foods, but think grilled meats, pasta dishes, spiced vegetable dishes, brie topped with a fresh mint leaf wrapped in a thin piece of prosciutto, and gooey rich brownies. There was a bit of confusion about exactly what grapes go into this wine. The back label said the wine is a blend of Garnacha and Graciano; the printed matter I was sent with the wine says 60 percent Garnacha and 40 percent Syrah while the winery’s website declares the wine contains Garnacha, Syrah and Graciano grapes. Whatever the truth, it was a winner from sniff to sip.
6. Ochoa Moscatel – 2010 $20: People often “talk” dry, but “buy” sweet. If there was a dessert wine that fit that category this would be it. A not overly sweet white dessert wine, I found its lovely nose to be tantalizing and appealing. Pairs well with spicy dried mango strips and again… rich brownies. My number 4 choice. Voted # 4 by the group.
Intrigued? Engaged? A FREE iPhone app for D.O. Navarra is now available. You can view tasting notes on hundreds of Navarra wines, and get regional information in an instant. This is the first wine guide for a Spanish D.O. Available at this point in time for iPhone users only, but you can get it in Spanish or English. The app lists over 400 wines with information on each wine, including grape varieties, and ageability. View wine labels and winery contact information.
Corie's Gringa Chicken Empanadas
3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup finely shredded jack cheese
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 jalapeno or serrano chili, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 (15 oz) package refrigerated pie crusts
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 400 F
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine chicken and next 7 ingredients. Unroll the pie crust onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 15 inch circle. Cut out rounds, using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Re-roll dough as needed. Repeat procedure with remaining pie crusts until you have 12 - 15 clean rounds. Arrange 1 round on the parchment. Lightly brush the edge of the crust with water. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture in the center of the round. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing and crimping the edges to seal in the filling. Repeat with remaining rounds and chicken mixture. Lightly brush each completed empanada with egg wash and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Cooking tip: Empanadas can be prepared frozen for up to one month prior to baking