Bar Pepito in King's Cross for a tasting of Navarra wines.
For the uninitiated, Navarra is a non-classic region of Spain that, like much of the country, is benefitting from the quiet and ongoing revolution in Spanish wine, resulting in well-made, fruit-driven wines at low-ish prices.
With a limited time available, I tried as many wines as I could and was very impressed with the quality - and personality - of the wines on show.
Inurrieta - importer C&D Wines
Orchidea, SB, £7.49, crisp, expressive varietal nose, rounded palate, gentle finish
Norte 2009 CS/M/T £7.99 ripe bramble fruit, vanilla spice and oakiness, good texture, mellow and integrated, grippy finish
Altos de Inurrieta 2007 Graciano/Syrah/Garnacha £17, very dark purple, ripe bramble fruit and spice, softly rounded and velvety texture, mouthfilling with gentle grip on the finish
Gran Feudo Rosado, Garnacha £8.69 Waitrose - crisp and aromatic, nicely rounded on the palate, good varietal expression; a good picnic wine or summer rosé
Gran Feudo Edicion Chardonnay, £10.99, Fullers - a pleasant textbook Chardie, nice ripe orchard fruit, creamy texture, nothing exciting
Finca De Villatuerta, T/M, £15.99 - complex nose, cherry, plum, tobacco and spice, hints of sour cherry, ripe and mouthfilling palate, good acidity, balanced grippy finish
Bodegas NTR.SRA. Del Romero
Malon De Echaide Blanco, Ch/Viura - aromatic Viura nose, ripe and rounded Chardonnay palate, Viura minerality on the finish
Bodega de Sarria
Senorio de Sarria Rosado, Garnacha, £7.50 Bacchanalia and others - crisp and mineral with red soft berry fruit, great structural acidity
Senorio de Sarria Vinedo No7, 2008, Graciano, Old Vines, £9 Noel Young Wines and others - dark purple, cherry fruit, forest floor, truffley Pinot-esque funkiness and oaky spice, inky texture, wonderfully heady and hedonistic
Keith Grainger, who is writing a book on wine faults, subsequently told me that the funkiness was definitely Brett.
However, Birte Steinfatt subsequently wrote to me, saying the following:
I would like to clarify the point about saying that our wine Viñedo nº7 Graciano has brettanomyces. The grape variety Graciano – as you have noticed – is a very peculiar variety, with many different aromas going from dark fruit to spices, cut fresh wood or the smell of forest floor, and sometimes you even get aromas from the animal world like leathers, all of which have nothing to do with brett.
Beside that, it is certainly true that Graciano is a variety that benefits from some aeration in the glass as it tends to be slightly reductive.
Senorio de Sarria Gran Reserva 2001, CS/M, £13.50, various independents - brick red tones, ripe cherry fruit, cassis and truffley undergrowth, oaky spice; feels mellow, integrated and soft
Bodegas Pago De Larrainzar - importer Georges Barbier of London
Pago de Larrainzar, 2006, M/CS/T/Garnacha, £18.60 - ripe bramble fruit, plums, cassis, oaky spice, juicy acidity, soft tannins and good grip; ticks all the boxes
Raso De Larrainzar 2008, T/M/CS/Garnacha, £10.32 - very similar to the Pago 2006 and about half the price.
Bodega Marco Real
Marco Real Rosé, Old Vine Grenache - pleasant Grenche sour cherry aromas and soft texture.
Compania Vitivinicola Tandem - importer Hallgarten Druitt
Inmacula Viura - low-intervention wine, bordering on natural, feels rounded and creamy with big, Natural Wine mouthfeel, lacks the harsh edges of modern-style Viura, very good
The standard and value-for money was all good here, I thought; with so many receiving ticks, I have starred the "best in class" wines.
Senorio de Sarria Rosado*
Gran Feudo Rosado
Finca de Villatuerta
Senorio de Sarria No7*
Pago and Raso de Larrainzar
It is worth adding that Sarah Jane Evans MW rated the Inmacula and the Larrainzar as her top wines. She also rated the Ochoa Calendas Rosado which I did not get round to trying; £7.49 from City Beverage Co and WM Mortons.
Also there was Anne Krebiehl who wrote this piece for Harpers - http://harpers.co.uk/misc/content/article/12042-blog-anne-krebiehl-tastes-wines-from-navarra.html
Wines of Navarra - http://winesofnavarra.com/
Wines from Spain - http://www.winesfromspain.com
Bacchanalia - www.winegod.co.uk
Noel Young Wines - www.nywines.co.uk