Located in the Pamplona Valley and surrounded by the Sierra del Perdón and Sierra de Etxauri, with the Arga River as a natural boundary, Bodega Otazu is the northernmost winery producing red wine in Spain.
The winery goes back to 1840, when the first French style winery was built, outside the urban area. In terms of architecture, its spectacular barrels room stands out, composed of 9 vaults of cement and designed like a cathedral, in this case, like a wine cathedral.
Pago de Otazu belongs to a special category of Spain’s estate wine classification system: Vinos de Pago. The estate received its status in 2008, becoming the third in Navarra to obtain the title.
The area experiences very marked diurnal temperature variations, and this promotes the aromatic properties and complexity of their grapes. In addition, Otazu’s soils are composed of alluvial clay as well as rocks and small pebbles. Their vineyard size is 284 acres (115ha) and they specialize in just four varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Merlot for red wines and Chardonnay for whites. All are grown in small vineyard plots and each is named after a woman, with names such as Helena, Irene, Daphne and Venus. Their microclimate, which is the result of its location as well as the orography of the land, shines for the abundant rainfall that receives falls in autumn, winter and spring; and plenty of sun that they get during their summers. This also contributes to the aromatic phenolics of their grapes.
At the latest Festival Vins de Terrebone, I had the pleasure of tasting two of their wines with their importer Valmonti. My tasting notes below:
Otazu Premium Cuvée 2011. Price: $19.85. SAQ Code: 11387298.
This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo. It has been aged in oak for 12 months and 14 months in bottle. Aproximate production is close to 150,000 bottles.
On the nose, jammy raspberry notes, green pepper and black peppercorns. On the mouth, the wine is full body with a fresh acidity with meaty tannins. Could be excellent with grilled sausages over a coal fire.
Senorio de Otazu Vino de Pago 2008. Price: $31.25. SAQ Code: 12382827
Same blend as the premium cuvee. However, production is around 18,000 bottles. In addition, aged in barrique for 16 months and a further aging in bottle for 36 months.This would explain why the wine is so accesible now.
On the nose, the wine nose presented a more spicier bouquet reminding me of nutmeg, clove. With some time, in the glass, notes of blueberry jam appeared. On the mouth, the wine was very earthy with a supple balance. Lots of balsamic flavors here and very round tannins. Long with an excellent balance. This wine would be marvelous with oven rack of lamb. Drink it now or within the next 5-7 years.