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Navarre Toasts a Wider World

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Navarre Toasts a Wider World

Published in the New York Times, March 21, 2007
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

FOR 25 years one of the great wine stories has been the rapid transformation of sluggish, antiquated local production networks into dynamic winemakers to the world.

Nowhere has this been more striking than in Europe’s longtime vinous backwaters, regions that for centuries churned out the village plonk, which was usually sold in bulk.

With the transportation and communication revolutions of the 20th century, to say nothing of the economic, social and political changes that have opened trade pretty much around the world, wine drinkers everywhere no longer had to settle for what their parents drank. They had choices, which is no small thing in human history.

The evolving wine business required the people who made the plonk and the farmers who sold their grapes to the people who made the plonk to fundamentally rethink what they were doing. They would have to adopt modern techniques of viticulture and winemaking to survive.


2002 Aroa Deierri

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2002 Aroa Deierri

This Spanish “Bordeaux” blend is a very accesible wine, following up with a great effort from the 2001 vintage in Navarra. A balanced mixture of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and of course tempranillo, the wine exhudes an earthy quality, especially due to organic farming practices. This wine is exceptionally smooth, standing up to rich foods, but also pairing well with lighter fare.




2001 Senorio de Sarria Vinedo No. 9

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2001 Senorio de Sarria Vinedo No. 9

Navarra has been slowly catching up with the rest of Spain in terms of quality of wine, and this effort by Senorio de Sarria is an example of a nice wine from a fine vintage.  This cabernet sauvignon enters light with funky, earthy aromas and obvious pleasures.  This is not an alcoholic, sweet, syrupy or age-worthy cabernet.  It is drinking at peak now, and will even start to fade in the bottle of aired for over an hour.  Nevertheless, its versatility is its major asset, pairing well with seafood and meat preparations.


2002 Vieux Telegraphe CDP Blanc

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The product of a well publicized ruined vintage, the only choice during troubled times was for the father and son team Brunier to focus on making this spectacular white, even though they offered a Grenache laden “Telegramme” which isn’t drinking nearly as well.

This wine boasts a superb nose of pear and grapefruit, and perhaps a touch of honey and wax. Tasted during an evening of other stellar whites at a post Thanksgiving celebration, this wine showed great vibrancy, persistence and finish. The vines drawn from to craft this wine average 35+ years in age, yielding a maturity and aging potential. Just as in Bordeaux Blanc, this is truly a great investment in the future or an enjoyable right now treat.



2002 Radikon Ribolla Gialla

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A white wine knockout, fashioned by natural methods with long skin contact and no temperature control. Decant this wine for about thirty minutes to open up and reveal several complex layers of apples, honey and straw. The finish is long lived and full-mouthed. The amber color reveals just how wild and original this wine is. This bottle makes you think about the winemaking process and leads other boring Italian whites with distinction. Grilled fish is the best bet for a pairing, but experimentation will surely be rewarded.



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While restaurants fought the city's new grading method, there is another aspect of the system that in some ways has created even more angst: the fines.