The Enate wines from Somontano in Aragon may appear to be a bit of an exception for me given the overall focus on native varietals in each region all through Europe but Somontano has an interesting history. Although there are still very small amounts of native varietals such as Moristel and Parraleta grown in the region, "French" varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay were introduced to the region by French vignerons in the late 18th century after their vineyards in France had been devastated by phylloxera. And so, with a long history of such varietals in the region, and their very interesting expressiveness in the foothills of the Pyrenees and the additional minerality added by such a location, I have added what my appear to be some "non-native" varietals from Somontano to the portfolio.
In every other way, the wines of Enate are a great fit for our focus as their focus is the full expression of each year's grapes instead of "formulas" used to create wines that taste the same year after year. The three wines initially selected include a very minerally and expressive Chardonnay, a delightful and food friendly Tempranillo, and an artfully crafted blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The expressiveness of the Somontano wines starts with the limestone and rocky soils in the area that are mixed with sandy loam. With its location in the foothills of the Pyrenees at elevations between 1,500 and 2,000 feet, the significant temperature difference between day and night during summer contributes to a slow, optimal ripening of the grapes. In this northern part of Somontano, although there is minimal rainfall, pure water from the melting annual snowpack in the Pyrenees is an additional enriching characteristic for the vineyards. Adding to the expressiveness of the wines is very careful viticulture and low yields per hectare.
The high quality fruit is then fully expressed by non-interventionist winemaking at the winery aided by state of the art equipment. I know there is a debate currently about whether temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel is "interventionist" or not (instead of using the moldy 200 year foudres used by Grandpa!) but I prefer fresher and more precise tasting wines!
Early morning mists from the mountains over the vineyards
Dramatic landscapes of Somontano
Vineyards in the spring
Rolling hills of the foothills of the Pyrenees
Wildflowers next to vineyards by the winery
A nice looking barrel cellar!
Chardonnay “234” 2019
This is a crisp and refreshing “un-oaked” Chardonnay fermented and matured in stainless steel. Aromas include pink grapefruit, camellia, honeysuckle, jasmine, and citrus blossoms. Flavors include honeydew melon, white peaches, and candied lemon. There is a medium body, good balance and acidity, and a refreshing and minerally full finish.
Food pairings would include sole, shrimp, crab, clams, swordfish, seafood pasta and salads, vela, pork, chicken, Asian pork and chicken dishes, Asian vegetable salads, creamy Mexican food, enchiladas, fish tacos, chile verde, paella, and tapas.
Aromas include red peaches, strawberries, and nectarines. Flavors include dark cherries, raspberries, and strawberries. There is medium body, good balance and acidity, and a refreshing full finish with a hint of sweet tannins.
Food pairings would include New York Streak, Rib Eye, Roast Beef, beef stew, pork chops, pork shoulder, chicken, lamb chops, shrimp, salmon, smoked trout and salmon, Asian beef, pork, and chicken dishes, Mexican beef and pork dishes, pasta with meat sauce, charcuterie, tapas, and mild and medium cheeses.
Tempranillo - Cabernet Sauvignon Crianza 2015
This is a blend of 70% Tempranillo and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas include red cherries, nectarines, and red peaches. Flavors include blackberries, raspberries, and boysenberries. There is a medium to full body, good balance and acidity, and full, rich, and minerally finish.
Food pairing would include Filet Mignon, New York Steak, short ribs, beef stew, lamb chops, pork shoulder, chicken, salmon, tuna, seafood pasta, paella, Asian and Mexican beef, pork and chicken dishes, tamales, charcuterie, and medium to rich cheeses.