Review: Wines From Navarra, Spain

Vinos de Navarra - Arriba? Abajo :-(

Though it may seem like we've been on a streak lately, reviewing nothing but 4+ star wines, we have been drinking our fair share (and yours) of mediocre (and sometimes down right crappy) wines.  The reason you haven't been reading about them is that, well, we've been dragging our feet.  In particular we've had some really disappointing wines from producers we've been excited to review.

Alas, we can't procrastinate forever...Which brings us to a handful of wines from the Navarra region of Spain.  Yes, we were excited about these.  Yes, we had high hopes.  And, yes, we were let down.  The PR firm promoting wines from this region sent us three reds and a white dessert wine - all right around $20 apiece.  As we usually do, we planned on tasting these with food.  Good thing, too...

It's impossible to think that this handful of wines is representative of all wines in Navarra, but the truth is that none of these would cause me to run out and buy one - nor tell you to.  Tasted on their own, all the reds appeared harsh and tough - astringent almost.  None could survive without food.  And with a hearty paella, only the Merlot came alive - and with a price tag of $20, it's hard to get excited about.  Specific reviews of each follow.

Should you try wines from this area?  Sure, experimentation is great.  But maybe reach for something other than these specific wines.

2005 Bodega de Sarria Graciano No. 7 $18
The flowery aromatics of this wine are breezy and light, and fresh and young smelling.  Not sure what Graciano is supposed to taste like, but this medium-bodied wine is so over-oaked and off-balance that the fruit is masked.  Chalky finish.  Stylistically, this is probably similar to what less expensive Spanish wines used to be known for.

2005 Tandem (Red Blend) ARS Nova $19
The color of darkness falling on war-torn Baghdad and a nose to match - tire rubber and jalapeƱo peppers.  Much more pleasant in the mouth, but sharp acids make this a tough one to enjoy without substantial food.

2006 Castillo de Monjardin Merlot Deyo $20
Its deep magenta color and even-keeled nose with green vegetables and dark fruit make for a South Americanesque combination.  Firm tannins and acids with a medium-full bodied structure.  After a few hours open it looses its sharpness and develops nice round fruit.  The clear winner of the bunch (with a very low bar).

2008 Bodegas Ochoa Moscatel $20.50 (375mL)
Hugely extracted honeysuckle with so much loose residual sugar it's distracting.  Light on alcohol, but long on syrup, it's tough to take seriously.  Especially at this price.