Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NAVARRA...DIVERSE WINES at REASONABLE PRICES by Philip S. Kampe

At a recent wine tasting, complete with regional music and food from the NAVARRA region of northern SPAIN and a simulated 'RUNNING OF THE BULLS' experience, I discovered a new found love for WINES from this region.

The diverse geography of the mountainous region of NAVARRA extends from the PYRENEES Mountains to the EBRO Basin, located on the edge of the RIOJO Baja. The climate is influenced by both the MEDITERRANEAN Sea and the ADRIATIC Ocean. The Pyrenees mountains help to protect the area from France's MISTRAL winds.

Wine making in the NAVARRA region has existed since the ROMAN Occupation. Navarra was conquered by CHARLEMAGNE in the Eighth century and shortly afterwards became a KINGDOM, with it's own Civil Rights. During the CRUSADES, of the Middle Ages, PILGRIMS passed through Navarra along "THE WAY of SAINT JAMES".

With them came the French MONKS, who established vineyards throughout the area.

Today, Navarra combines INDIGINOUS grapes with CONTINENTAL Varieties to offer a wide range of high-quality wines. Red wines often combine TEMPRANILLO and GARNACHA with CABERNET SAUVIGNON and MERLOT. CHARDONNAY is commonly used for white wines and 'Free-Run ROSSADO', light strawberry in color, represents the roses, often made with CABERNET SAUVIGNON.

NAVARRA'S most fertile soil is rich in ALLUVIAL SILT and is south of PAMPLONA (remember the Running of the Bulls), between the cities of PUENTE la REINA, SANGUESA and TUDELA.

NAVARRA has 32,800 acres, which are divided into five zones for winemaking.

RIBERA ALTA forms the Heart of Navarra and is the largest winemaking region.. Sandy soil with limestone dominate the vineyards, which produce 35% of the regions wines.

RIBERA BAJA, the southern most area in Navarra produces 29% of the regions production.

Limestone and gravel are present in roses favorite region, BAJA MONTANA, which produces 13% of Navarras' wines.

16% of production takes place in TIERRA ESTRELLA, while 7% of production is located in north central Navarra, in the VALDIZARBE region. Both areas have chalky soil with a reddish-grey tint.

WHITE grape varieties from Navarra include: VIURA; CHARDONNAY; WHITE GARNACHA; MALVASIA; MUSCAT de GRAN MENUDO and SAUVIGNON BLANC.

RED grapes include: CABERNET SAUVIGNON; MERLOT; PINOT NOIR; SYRAH; GRACIANO; TEMPRANILLO; GARNACHA and CARIGNAN (Mazuelo).

SPECIAL VINEYARDS produce OUTSTANDING Wines from NAVARRA.

LOOK for wines from any of these VINEYARDS and you will EXPERIENCE Navarra Wines at their PEAK. Most retail prices range from under $10 a bottle up to $39.

My FAVORITE Vineyards include:
Bodegas AZUL y GARANZA
Bodegas ARTAJONA
Bodegas CAMILO CASTILLA
Bodegas CASTILLO de MONJARDIN
Bodegas CHIVITE
Bodegas ENANZO
Bodegas INUERRIETA
Bodegas ONDARRE
Bodegas ORVALAIZ
Bodegas PAGO de CIRSUS
Bodegas PRINCIPE de VIANA y ALBRET
Bodegas 1877 SPANISH WINE DEALERS
SENORIO de OTAZU

Many of these wines can be found at your local wine shop or on the internet.
Just ask for WINES FROM NAVARRA.
Most wines are COMPLEX, some dry, some with upfront fruit and soft on the palate with a long, flavorful finish. Dollar for dollar, the Wines from Navarra are a BARGAIN....

To learn more about NAVARRA, visit:
www.NavarraWine.com or http://www.camaranavarra.com/

PHILIP S. KAMPE

philip.kampe@thewinehub.com
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