Wine of the Month
Note: Create joy, one sip at a time.
Featured Wine: El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa
Grape Variety: 100% Old Vines Garnacha (planted 1890-1960)
Denomination: D.O. Navarra
Production Zone: Valley of Valdizarbe, Navarra Spain
Vinification: The grapes are slightly crushed and cold macerated before primary fermentation, then transferred to French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation (MLF).
Aging: 7 months in second use French oak barrels
Price: Under $20
My tasting of El Chaparral began on a Friday at 3:30 pm, sitting on the deck, the wine was slightly chilled, around 60’ F, it was a slightly warm day and I was slightly relaxed…but only slightly.
Is 3:30 too early? It doesn’t really matter.
These days, even at rest, with a glass of wine, my thoughts are jumbled, I forgot two birthdays this month, two friends who mean the world to me; I have so much going on in the little bubble of our home life, but, I have absolutely nothing going on socially, I mean nothing to look forward to, no escape. Then to top it off, and to be expected, Flagstaff is making me crazy. I never really felt at home here. I am not at ease here; I am so homesick for the city. Then my dog got sprayed by a skunk. Then my mom fell again and broke her nose, fractured her jaw and needed stitches.
So yes, nothing going on but everything going on, all at the same time; mom injuries, skunks, homesick and there I sat, with wine, with the grill warming up, a steak that I marinated ready to be cooked. And it is kinda jive that I made a steak because it is all for me, mom can’t chew.
Let me get back to the wine. After I poured myself a healthy glass of this wine, it welcomed me with a nose full of black cherry, plum and a hint of oak. The palate has more depth than I expected; it has cherry and berry fruits, oak, along with a touch of spice, white pepper, black pepper and anise. There is a bit of minerality which is very complimentary to the fruitiness. For a fine finale, it ends long and dry. Because of the MLF, I anticipated a creamier wine, but this wine is delicate; yet I believe that the MLF did round up the flavors and create a lovely balanced wine. The pepper mingling with the fruit reminded me of many Cote du Rhone wines, which I do love.
El Chaparral is made with care; they work hard to respect the environment while also creating an easy to sip wine that is affordable. And remember, when the winery uses natural practices, not killing all that good bacteria with pesticides, it is beneficial to us (the drinker) by enhancing flavors, it is kinder to the environment, even the skunks are safer; we all benefit.
I preferred this wine with food but only due to the oak, it is a fine wine to sip while heating up the grill and after my last few days, weeks and/or months, sip it I did. But then, I remembered that I had found a shop with some nice cheese, and I was feeling a little tipsy, so I ripped off a bit of a baguette, dipped it in some tomato basil salad and sliced a flaky piece of hard ricotta cheese and man was that a perfect moment. El Chaparral and I continued our pairing journey as I settled in for my meal of marinated rib-eye, roasted herb potatoes and tomato basil salad. This was a wonderful choice, I savored every bite and sip; I felt incredibly content after. My second pairing was with a salad in lemon and olive oil dressing, tarragon roasted chicken, the skin super crisp and flavorful, with potatoes roasted around the chicken and that too was delicious.
These days, I have trouble thinking of the proper social setting as socializing is frowned upon, oh, and I don’t know anyone here, but if you are still in a spot where outside dining is feasible, do it, and invite all of your friends along for a spectacular little dining and drinking experience.
We have wild asters blooming all around our yard, purple and sweet, those would be just right for your centerpiece, along with a few sprigs of parsley or oregano or both. And because I long to hear this, I say, skip the music and enjoy the sounds of laughter, glasses clinking, people sighing with satisfaction when they take a bite of your cooking, that would be the best soundtrack, or, if you are unable to have company and are sick of listening to your housemate’s voice, try some soothing Norah Jones, soft in the background.
I hope this finds you in a healthy and happy place. I hope, even if you opt out of entertaining, you still opt in on making a delicious meal for yourself, with some delicious El Chaparral, some pretty flowers, Norah Jones in the background or at least maybe something like Dave Chapelle on the television, he works wonders in our house, even after a day of doctors and skunks.