In the Rolling Hills of DO Navarra!

BODEGAS AROA, NATURALLY!

I recently received a selection of four most enjoyable wines from DO Navarra, by a rather circuitous route!

My great Welsh pal, Geraint (not colloquially known by that name – bet you can guess what he’s actually called!), has a passion for Italian wines, reds in particular. However as a lover of wines in general as well, he’s certainly not averse to trying others.

As a gastronome (actually, he’s a little taller than a Gnome, but it’s close) and first class Rugby Scrum Half, playing for Liverpool, Cheshire and Lancashire, Taff has travelled a lot, and each place he goes, he always likes to sample the food, and the wine. He’s a great cook too.

So, when he Whatsapped me asking about Le Naturel, a Spanish red wine he’d found and really enjoyed in the UK, I knew it would be well worth investigating – and not wholly altruistically, either! The trail ended at Bodegas Aroa, in the rolling hills of DO Navarra, an area of production about which I have written recently, one that is now attracting the attention it deserves.

Le Naturel has a sister, Le Naturel Blanco, made from Garnacha Blanca grown at altitude. Being honest, it was quite a shock – the initial piercing acidity had a chef’s knife-like quality, so sharp was it, almost bringing tears to my eyes! If perhaps thinking steely dry Chablis, triple it and think again!

Le Naturel Blanco, for me, is not an aperitif white wine, but I doubt it was made to be so. That evening we had a fish pie with a rich, creamy, anchovy and baby eel sauce, it cut through the sauce with consummate ease complementing the dish perfectly. I saved some for the next day’s rich, mixed seafood and rabbit paella, and although dressed with lemon wedges, we didn’t need them – the wine balanced the opulence of the dish, nicely.

Le Naturel red, is in fact two wines – there’s one which is 100% Garnacha, the other Garnacha yes, but with the addition of ‘other varieties’. I was sent the latter, and greatly enjoyed it as a wine to enjoy with friends and family as well as with meat dishes – I’d also love it with duck. Don’t tell our French friends but this would be so good in Dordogne!

Taff wanted me to give him my opinion – here’s how I described the wine: Rich, dark red in colour with leafy brambly notes on the nose on first pouring, developing into blackberry fruit aided and abetted by blueberry notes and a brief reference to mountain herbs. Smooth and quite opulent on the palate with a seductive, juicy medium to long finish. I think that says it all, except – when you see it buy it!

There’s also a rosado in this range, which I’d like to try sometime, but there’s a further range from Bodegas Aroa, eponymously named, two of which I was also sent, and also enjoyed.

Aroa Jauna Crianza 2015 is made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Garnacha and Tempranillo (some of the aforementioned ‘other varieties’ I guess?), and it’s a lovely smooth red wine with balanced tannin retaining some freshness and drinking perfectly – a red wine for food as well as just on its own. Like the whole Aroa portfolio the vines are grown organically, perhaps accounting for the brightness along with the altitude of the vineyards.

Dark red fruits, blackcurrant and blackberry, with a little menthol on the nose too. Its 12 months in oak has added depth to the wine and a little complexity, with some faint dark chocolate notes and a slight nod at liquorice in there too. Drink now and for maybe 6 months.

Aroa Mutiko is another low intervention wine from this bodega which is making modern style wines which also pay their respects to the history of Navarra and the traditions of the winemaking scene. This is made with 100% Garnacha, so it’s a little lighter in colour, and the 10 months of oak ageing makes a slightly lesser impact than the Jauna above.

I was very interested to read the writing on the cork: This wine contains – 1,425 hours of sunshine; 62 days of rain and snow; 11 nights of full moon; 365 days of work; 20 centuries of tradition; and 1 kilo of healthy grapes! Cool – I love it! Info like this gives the consumer a real link to the vineyard that provided the grapes, its climate conditions, the work involved in making the wine and the winemaking history of Navarra. Bravo.

Furthermore, this wine was my equal favourite in a strong group, equal with Taff’s Le Naturel. It’s elegant and subtle drinking brilliantly right now and with some time left too. Great, inexpensive wine!

Bodegas Aroa is part of the Vintae Group about which I wrote when they launched their new business quite a few years ago now, in Barcelona at the Alimentaria Food and Wine Fair, when it was in its heyday. I was impressed then, and I’m very interested to see that they have developed and expanded so well! Bravo, de Nuevo!

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Please don’t forget my monthly Wine Show on www.valleyfm.es – it’s always the First Saturday of the Month, from 12:00 hrs – 13:00 hrs CET. You’ll find some great wines tasted on-air; top music; fun chat; and lotsa informal wine info! Hope you can join us soon!  

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