March 2015 Selection

Navarra, where singular is the norm

March 2015 Selection

Chivite Colección 125 Reserva 2010 (2 bottles)
Pasos de San Martín 2012 (2 bottles)
Emilio Valerio Amburza 2010 (2 bottles)

Normal retail price: £89.65
Club Discount Price: £77.06
You save: £12.59 (14.03%)

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About this selection...

Navarra had been traditionally known for its rosés in particular until well into the 1980s, when it seriously began to show that it was capable of coming up with some magnificent reds. It has never been lacking in wine tradition or culture, nor naturally good climatic and geological conditions either, nor splendid vineyards and superb grapes; we can still find in Navarra today the odd vineyard that resisted phylloxera.

From Roman times, passing through the peak in the Middle Ages thanks to the work of convents and monasteries, where wine was not only made but new wine-making techniques were developed, good wine has always been produced in Navarra. Nowadays, better than just good wine.

Yet, would we be able to describe what wines from Navarra are like, generally speaking? It's difficult, because if Navarra wines share something, it's their singularity. This means that three singular wines are being proposed to you this month: a great classic and reference point both in this denomination and in the whole Spanish wine-making sector, Chivite Colección 125 Reserva 2010; a wine which has sought to reflect the identity of Garnachas from San Martín de Unx, devised as a village wine, Pasos de San Martín 2012, made by Artazu which is Artadi's winery in Navarra; and Amburza 2010, from Emilio Valerio but bearing Olivier Rivière's stamp, a pure Cabernet and a terroir wine, namely a Navarra Cabernet.

The list could continue, with so many other interesting wines, but the club only allows for three, so we hope that you enjoy these ones and they encourage you to discover many more.

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Chivite Colección 125 Reserva 2010 (2 bottles)

Red Reserva. Chivite Navarre, Spain Tempranillo

Bottle: £15.90 club members / £18.51 non-members


Chivite's Colección 125 Reserva is a wine abounding in history, a great wine and a great classic. Classic due to its perpetuity in time, a wine which relates the history of a family laying claim to eleven generations dedicated to the land and vine; classic too in its style, because, although adapted to new market demands and therefore fruity and lively, it is defined by its elegance, seriousness and nobility.

They are true craftsmen at Chivite and their Colección 125 range is the one that best demonstrates their expertise, limited production wines which express the character of their finest vineyards with the individual characteristics of each harvest. With the Reserva they offer us not only a very authentic Tempranillo, with its typical blueberry aromas, but also a Tempranillo made in the vineyard, permeated with the natural environment surrounding it. To sum up, this is a very fresh wine, mature, complex and particularly earthy and profound.

The grapes used to make it are solely of the Tempranillo variety and originate from parcels on the Finca Granja de Legardeta estate. Here, the vineyards enjoy an Atlantic climate, which leaves its mark on the wine with that tremendous freshness.

As regards colour, it's very vivid and bright, a dark ruby-red, of medium depth. On the nose, it's really fresh, very alive and expressive, fruity, with some sweet notes, damp ones too but especially hints of dry earth..., a great wealth of nuances in spectacular and very appealing balance. Decant it or open it up an hour beforehand, and it will thank you and reward you with its great complexity. After a short while, the woodland sensations will waken up, with forest vegetation, juniper and cedar wood, spicy pepper notes, and also orange peel. On the palate, its attack is meaty, dense, with powerful yet pleasant tannins, a dry touch but not drying, again that earthy feel, and excellent acidity; this wine has a long life ahead of it.

A noble wine, and very well defined, which honours one of Navarra's most emblematic wineries.

NOTE: Chivite was founded as a winery in 1647 and boasts one of Spain's longest-running dynasties. The Colección 125 range was released onto the market in 1985 in commemoration of 125 years since Chivite's first exportation, in 1860.

Duck a l'orange / chicken with raisins and plums / peppered steak / red meats / stewed meats with mushrooms / rice dishes / marinated meats / venison

  • Wine Tasting Notes:
    • Colour
      Ruby red / dark
    • Bouquet
      Intense / fruit aromas / black fruit / cedar wood / earthy notes / juniper / spicy notes
    • Palate
      Structured / dense / fresh / spicy notes / long / earthy
  • Alcohol content: 14,0%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 17ºC and 18ºC
  • Drink now or keep until 2025.

Chivite Colección 125 Reserva 2010
Front and back

Pasos de San Martín 2012 (2 bottles)

Red Crianza. Bodegas y Viñedos Artazu Navarre, Spain Grenache

Bottle: £12.85 club members / £14.94 non-members


The Garnacha is a variety which seems to possess a thousand facets, a grape which seems more amazing and enchanting by the day. Depending upon the terroir, the climate, the producer's hand..., it offers such distinct, magical wines. Here is one of them.

The first point to appreciate about Pasos de San Martín is the craftsmanship of an excellent producer —and not because it says so on the label, it's noticeable— and that fruit powerfulness which will still be there to delight us in years to come, with an even more exquisite refinement, as per normal in the wines which Artadi produces from old vineyards. Before the tasting starts, we should be aware that Artadi makes two Garnacha wines in Navarra, conceived as village wines: Santa Cruz de Artazu and Pasos de San Martín, two distinct Garnachas, as we pointed out at the beginning, with the first more inclined to black fruit, and the second to red; with Santa Cruz having a denser profile, and Pasos de San Martín a lighter one. Two highly recommendable wines, however we shall focus here on Pasos de San Martín.

Fruit concentration in Artadi wines is usual, and Pasos de San Martín is no exception; it's a good idea to decant it and pour carefully, especially whilst young. This Garnacha is a lovely colour in the glass, looking more like a Tempranillo than a Garnacha: somewhere between a dark ruby and a blood-red shade, and very bright. On the nose, there's an outburst of fresh fruit aromas, mainly of red fruits (strawberries, redcurrants) and some blueberries, wafts of candied fruit, which appear swathed in refreshing whiffs of scrubland, sweet juicy hints of blood oranges, violet-scented and gentle yet penetrating menthol notes. The fruit takes centre stage, but it is complex overall and an absolute delight, on a background of cedar wood and tobacco which reveal the quality of the oak woods used in ageing. On the palate it is equally vigorous and intense, powerful, with very noticeable acidity and a pleasant sweetness that is most inviting. This is a very well-balanced wine, full of life, and fruit-forward above all; you won't want to swallow: it's a pure fruit bonbon on the tongue.

To enjoy on its own / civet / rabbit lamb with fine herbs / pork / lamb / wild boar / venison / meats with creamy sauces

  • Alcohol content: 14,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 18ºC
  • Drink now or keep until 2022.

Pasos de San Martín 2012
Front and back

Emilio Valerio Amburza 2010 (2 bottles)

Red Crianza. Emilio Valerio - Laderas de Montejurra Navarre, Spain Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Tempranillo

Bottle: £9.79 club members / £11.38 non-members


Viñas de Amburza is a genteel and very gentlemanly wine. It likes to take its time. Just as nature does. It has been made following biodynamic methods and, like most of these wines, requires a period of time, a good maturation in bottle and some minutes... a generous few... in the glass, where it will open up impressively.

We have here a pure Cabernet with a distinctive terroir character; a serious, fresh, balsamic, mineral wine, clearly-defined too by an earthy finish. It's almost a single varietal Cabernet but not totally, making up 80% of its composition; it's special, and an unusual wine in which the three varieties (Cabernet, Garnacha and Tempranillo) combine to make a harmonious whole, a reflection of that excellent form of agriculture, with little intervention, adhered to by the winery's owner, Emilio Valerio. Nature may lead the orchestra but we're under no illusions, as the technical director has everything firmly under his control, the French-born oenologist Olivier Rivière, a genuine vineyard expert, whose excellent work we're well aware of too, from his own particular projects in both La Rioja and Navarra.

Viñas de Amburza is a refined Cabernet, and one influenced by the Atlantic. A deep purplish colour in the glass, with typical Cabernet aromas but different from those which we customarily come across in Bordeaux wines, without the leather, just clean, fruit aromas, with hints of pepper, balsamic and aromatic herb notes, some subtle wafts of incense, bakery undertones and some damp touches which are surely due to the climate; an undeniably complex nose, so decanting is required but opening up doesn't take long. On the palate, its attack is dense, intense, still somewhat compact, with plenty of ripe fruit and a dry spicy background similar to that discerned on the nose. It's fascinating to discover the odd trait endowed most likely by the other two varieties, such as traces of pear skin on the aftertaste, probably from the Garnacha, and some suggestions of ripeness which suggest that despite the Atlantic influence it does have a touch of the Mediterranean too, a sweet juicy undertone. All in all, a lovely orchestration originating from this countryside in Navarra, a denomination where, if all of its wines share anything, then it's their variances, their singularity.

Lamb / oven-cooked meats / barbecues / stewed meats with mushrooms

  • Alcohol content: 13,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 18ºC
  • Drink now or keep until 2020.

Emilio Valerio Viñas de Amburza 2010
Front and back

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