When I lived in Spain, I hardly ever drank wine. I was in the land of hard cider. Other kids who couldn’t handle the tartness or didn’t like the idea of throwing back an inch of sidra in one gulp drank wine, but I am first and foremost an acidhead, and this delicacy was right up my alley. Sidra and pinchos, particularly salty olives, were what I liked any weeknight, and wine fell to the wayside. I was in the northwest of Spain, but had I known Arínzano wasn’t too far away in the northeast, I may have explored the world of wine a bit more. During a recent #WineStudio, we became acquainted with Hacienda de Arinzano, a company located in Navarra that is the only winery in Spain certified by the World Wildlife Fund for environmental responsibility. As a proud owner of a WWF plush I received for a symbolic animal adoption, I think that last tidbit is pretty cool. Still, the juice is what matters, so read on to see what I thought.
Although most people, myself included, think of red wines when they think of Spain, I’m going to start with the 2014 Hacienda de Arínzano White. Consisting of 100% Chardonnay, a grape that 100% of people have an opinion about, this was one of those bright bottles with a lot of vivacity to it. If you’ve had a lemon tart, that’s what this wine reminded me of. It had a tartness to it, yet was still honeyed and sweet and buttery, without making me want to gag. I like my whites with a few punches of acid, and luckily, the warmed notes of this one didn’t detract from that. We tasted this alongside the rose I mentioned in my last post, which had a bit more complexity and peppery flavors than this. At $19.99 a bottle, this is a very approachable white that would appeal to people that like Chardonnay with oak and those who like a crisp French style too. Pull it out at the next holiday gathering and see how this goes over. I’m betting it will do well.
Although we did play with some whites and roses, I came to the Arínzano session excited for the reds. The first one I opened was the 2012 Hacienda de Arínzano Red, which was made up of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The red was a wine that stuck with me. While their white wine was fun and flirty, this was deeper yet still felt young. If the white was Rapunzel from Tangled, this was Jasmine from Aladdin. A little floral, a lot fruity, and fairly easy to pair with anything from hard cheeses to crostini topped with a variety of toppings, this wine was a simple winner. This one also clocks in at $19.99, so a few will please many without costing the same as a villa in Tuscany. I suggest this one as another one to grab for upcoming holiday gatherings where everyone has a different favorite grape. Most will probably agree on the pleasure of this one.
Now, I’ll say something that most others cannot: Merlot is the wine that got me into wine. The first few times I had wines in restaurants, Merlot was readily available, easy to pronounce, and a wine that I thought I had heard was good once. So, for about a year, Merlot was my red of choice, and although my tastes have expanded since then, Merlot always holds a special place in my heart. While the first red we tried only consisted of 10% Merlot, the 2008 Arínzano La Casona was 75% Tempranillo and 25% Merlot. Arinzano cheekily said during the event that they have one of the best Merlots in Europe, a statement with which I am inclined to believe. This combo was soft yet still had some texture to it with a leathery weight. Dark pitted fruit, a decadent red coloring that would match Hugh Hefner’s many robes, and aromas that reminded me of an old library gave this wine the appearance of being refined, smart, and layered. Going back to my Disney analogy, this one is Belle in the princess lineup. This was a wine I will never forget. Now, part of that may be due to it tasting good, but it also has to do with the fact that I opened this up about an hour before we had a huge storm with a tornado touchdown in our area, which knocked out our power for four days, upturned the umbrella on our patio, and resulted in a tree falling on my sister’s car. R.I.P. both the tree and the car. A memorable wine had during a memorable evening. When I actually poured a glass, it was in our kitchen with the dog sitter helping me watch my grandmother’s dog surrounded by five or six fragrant Yankee Candles and a flashlight pointed up toward the ceiling to provide the most light. It wasn’t how I had pictured sipping on this wine, but it made all the more impact on me for that reason. The SRP for this bottle is $39.99, so if you decide to drop forty dollars on this bottle, spend the time to decant it, enjoy it, and find friends who would appreciate it. This is not for your grandmother that only drinks Moscato.
At this point, I drink a lot of wine. There are wines that I try that are not so good. Others which I can appreciate the skillful work put in without loving them. As well as some that I adore. The Hacienda de Arínzano wines are solid wines that you could pull out any day without breaking the bank. They are fun, tasty, and don’t require a ton of brooding over what they mean. In other words, they’re perfect for these days that are cooling off that make you yearn for wine that has weight yet still has remnants of a breezy summer day. If you pick up some bottles, let me know if you agree!
These wines were kindly provided to me by the winery listed above, but all opinions are my own.