Hello Wine Pairing Pilgrims! Please join the Wine Pairing weekend crew on a sacred journey this April to Navarra, Spain, home to the Camino de Santiago as well as a cuisine that pairs heavenly with the region’s wines!
As you can see from the map above, Navarra is located in the upper part of Spain near Rioja and France, and the city famous for the “running of the bulls” — Pamplona — is located there.
Navarra’s history is intertwined with the Camino de Santiago — in fact, according to Navarra wines, the region’s “reputation for making exceptional wine blossomed during the late Middle Ages, as pilgrims traveling along the Camino de Santiago—a medieval pilgrimage route currently enjoying a dramatic resurgence in popularity—began noting the particularly high quality of wines they encountered as they made their way through the Kingdom of Navarra, en route to the shrine of St. James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela, roughly 400 walking miles to the west, in the northwestern Spanish province of Galicia. (Rioja, Navarra’s next door neighbor to the west, found its own early fame in precisely the same way.)”
Whether you will actually walk the Camino de Santiago through Navarra or not, wine tasting and food pairing allows us to travel to exotic places without leaving home.
This month I’d like to encourage YOU to explore this regional cuisine of Spain (ideas here), possibly adapted to your home area, but any pairings are fine of course!
To prepare us for our own journey, Sue and I tasted two of the iconic wines of the region. Which ones? Well, here’s a hint:
How do you say Grenache in Spanish? GARNACHA!
The third most planted in Spain goes by dozens of names, among them NAVARRA because it is so strongly associated with that region of Spain.
According to Wikipedia, Garnacha originated in Aragon in northern Spain and then spread to Navarra. followed by southern France and Rioja. Garnacha-based blends of Navarra are lighter and fruitier than those of Rioja which may be more well known, and tend to be meant for earlier consumption.
We paired these two Garnacha with Spanish cheese and meats.
Spanish Cheese tray
- Iberico -Sheep goat and cow milk
- Cabra al vino – goat milk
- manchego – sheep milk
- Salchichon – Spanish brand salame
- Del Duca – Jamon Serrano – Dry-Cured Ham
- Chorizo Cantimpalo
Super simple meat and cheese tray to put together. Trader Joes offers both the cheese and meat samplers both packaged up and ready to set out.
2014 – Vega Del Castillo – Navarra – 13.5% alcohol (sample)
With funk on the nose at first, this cherry colored wine opens up nicely with dusty earthy florals, plus more earthiness, a dry earth, and dried carnations. It really takes a while for this to open up and needs a big glass to fully enjoy the aromas — a lovely barnyard funky weirdness with cherry koolaid on the nose. Unlike the other wine we sampled this afternoon, the nose did not invite you in unless a funky aroma is what you want. If you are a fan of horses, you will love this!
On the palate, we wouldn’t have guessed that this was a Grenache! Sue quickly tired of this wine, but I didn’t. For John it reminded him of cherry pie right off the bat — Hostess cherry pies!
This wine was definitely better after it had been opened up a bit. On the label, they describe it as ripe fruit, but we did not find that overly fruit abundant. Medium bodied and bright, the tannins and acids are tamed a bit by the fatty salami which brings out the cherry fruit, changes the nose and the whole experience of the wine. While it did not like the cabra al vino, it did alright with the mancheco.
I found a bit of effervescence, but Sue did not. When John joined us later, he picked it out as well.
Decant this wine, pour it into a big glass and be patient. Let some of the barnyard burn off. .
John felt that this wine had a really long lingering finish, as did I. Dry tannic finish, not super oakey, just tannic and cherry Koolaid or Cherry phosphate.
2015 – Principe de Viana – Garnacha – 14% alcohol (sample)
John felt this wine was kind of like the last wine — there are definitely similarities due to region and grape! But as you spend time with them both, the nuances and differences come forward.
Nicely labeled bottle, easy to read, easy to access what type of grape is in the bottle.
Very nice nose, inviting, violets, licorice candy, anise, forest floor and herbs, cherry cola, a sweetness to the nose. The nose is star of this show!
This wine does not send you right to food to try and enjoy, it is fun hanging out with it as a wine. It does however go nicely with food, it really likes smokey characteristics in food and went great with the Spanish ham. I was thinking, pork loin or lamb, because it might not have the body to stand up to steak, but definitely cuts through smokey fatty foods nicely.
Tannic, dry, not really that fruity, delicately balanced, this was a very enjoyable wine.
While there are many ways pilgrims travel the Camino de Santiago, we hope in April you will join us in Navarra! It’s easy!
HOW TO JOIN US:
- Contact me to tell me you’re in by commenting on this post below! You can also email me. Include your blog URL, Twitter handle, and any other social media details. If you know your blog post title, include that…but you can also send that closer to the event. We’d just like to get a sense of who’s participating and give some shout-outs and links as we go.
- Prepare a dish (preferable Navarra regional!) to pair with your chosen wine from Navarra. Write up your experience and get ready to post and share.
- Send your post title to me by midnight Tuesday, April 10 to be included in the preview post. I will prepare a preview post shortly after getting the titles, linking to your blogs. Your title should include “#WinePW.”
- Publish your post between 8am Friday April 13 to 8 a.m. PDT Saturday, April 14. You can always schedule your post in advance if you will be tied up.
- Include links to the other #WinePW participants in your post and a description of what the event is about. I’ll provide the HTML code that you can easily put in your initial post — which will link to people’s general blog url — then the updated code for the permanent links to everyone’s #winePW posts.
- Get social! After the posts go live, please visit your fellow bloggers’ posts to comment and share. We have a Facebook group for participating bloggers to connect and share, too. (If you aren’t a part of this and want to be included, please mention that when you contact me.)
- Twitter chat 8am PST Sat. April 14: Please join us online for our monthly twitter chat. I will create a set of questions to guide our discussion which will be posted in our Facebook group. You can schedule your answers but it’s more fun to join us live! All are welcome — you don’t have to have a blog post.
- Sponsored posts are OK if clearly disclosed. Please be sure to disclose if your post is sponsored or if you are describing wine or other products for which you have received a free sample.