I found myself back at the W Hotel Union Square for the 2009 Wines of Navarra seminar. I'd been to this seminar before last year, but returned since I'm more than willing to learn some more about different wines.
I recognized Ana Laguna from last year's seminar as she got ready to present about Navarra wines for 2009, but she had a co-host this year. Seasoned winemaker Pilar Garcia-Granero also has the distinction of being the first woman president of the Consejo Regulador Denominacion de Origen Navarra, the governing body for the Navarra D.O..
The winemaking business in Navarra has a strong female presents, though Pilar said that when she first got started 20 years ago this wasn't necessarily the case. One compliment she received during those days was, "Although you are a woman, you make good wine." But nowadays Navarra boasts a large number of women that are involved in winemaking.
Robin Kelly O'Connor, the new director of sales for Sherry-Lehmann who also helps to host the Navarra wine seminars each year, jumped in to say that more women in winemaking is something he's observed around the world as well. He mentioned in particular Chile where close to 40% of winemakers are women.
Like last year, those attending got to hear a bit of background about the Navarra wine region and what was going on the Navarra D.O. around 17-18 wines were sipped during the seminar. While located in Spain, Navarra is also close to France and in particular the Bordeaux region. Also, it possesses varying climates and soils, so though the region boasts its own native grape varieties such as Garnacha and Tempranillo, other wine types such as Cabernet or Merlot are also produced with personalities that can differ quite a bit from those that people traditionally attribute the varieties with. The panel included whites, such as the Cstillo de Monhardin, a Chardonnay; an Enanzo rosé made with 100% Garnacha from Bodegas Campos de Enanzo; Ochoa Red Crianza 2005, a 100% Tempranillo red; and Ars Mácula, a 2004 Red from TANDEM, that is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Earth 2.0, an organic wine from Romero & Miller was scheduled for the tasting line up, but wasn't available during the seminar. Better late than never, the reps from Romero & Miller showed up at the showroom with their bottles of Earth 2.0 as well as the nonorganic Casita Mami line and created a bit of a hubbub. I watched on person who seemed especially excited by the Casita Mami line. I was curious as to who this was so I decided to introduce myself. The gentleman introduced himself as Erik Strait, the sommelier over at Apiary. Neat! I told Erik I couldn't help but notice he seemed particularly excited about these wines. Erik said that the price and quality was right and he was also looking to include more Spanish wines into Apiary's wine list.
However, it wasn't all drinks at this event. there was a plate of Spanish cheese for people to nosh off of as you'd expect at a wine event, but there were also some dishes created by chef Enrique Martinez. While chorizo is always delicious and the other foods I tried were all quite tasty (including an interesting concoction with a bit of asparagus oil it seemed like), the winner of the day for me was the duck liver covered with dark chocolate. Now, I wouldn't eat a whole Snickers' bar sized piece of it, but I was still all about that.