I really love Catavino – it’s such an informative and innovative source of information on Spanish & Portuguese wines. The food of the region is key, but it’s just as vital to know about the great wines available too. This is the place to find out!
Jose Pizzaro http://www.josepizarro.com

Bodega Profile – Bodegas Bernabe Navarro – DO Alicante

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Have you ever been sent back in time after looking at wine label? Personally, I tend to have these experiences most often with aromas, rather than images. Maybe the bouquet of a wine will catapult me back to my aunt’s kitchen helping her make a sweet cranberry strudel, or a vacation I took horseback riding through a pungent compost field. This, I can relate to, but never have I had it happen with a label of a wine bottle.

The blue hues of the 2005 Beryna watercolor label depicting a boat drifting at sea was the instigator for my most recent time warp. Years ago, when I lived in New Mexico, I had a secret getaway I would religiously take every week. In my 1993 black Subaru Legacy, a poor choice in color while living in the Southwest, I would sneak away from the university and drive north with my sunroof open, joyfully singing along to the Cranberries. Down the empty sand encrusted highway, the intense dry heat and rich musky smell of the desert surrounding me, I eventually arrived to the front door of a small art dealer on the north end of Santa Fe. The studio was run by a friend’s mom, easily recognizable by her flowing skirts and turquoise necklaces, who just so happened to have a painting I absolutely adored. The painting reached approximately 5 feet long and 3 feet high depicting the intense primary colors of the desert mesas. In the front right corner were two Indians sitting on disproportionately long horses with limbs that looked so bizarrely thin and long, you couldn’t imagine them carrying the weight of the men. The entire scene pulled you in, making you feel equally stretched either vertically or horizontally to the point you wanted to step away, but you couldn’t. Whether it was the intensity of the colors, the heaviness felt by the emaciated Indians hanging their feathered heads across the horse’s mane, or the sheer vibrancy the painting exuded, I never quite figured it out.

Upon reflection, I can only imagine that the Beryna label radiated with the same vibrant energy as the painting in Santa Fe. It was simple; yet powerful. While Spanish labels tend to be adorned with images of large mansion estates and gold lettering, this label was elegant and interesting; expressing everything about itself in only a few strokes. A straightforward image and few words, it told you exactly what you would be experiencing once the bottle was uncorked: a subtle and delicate wine. It’s silky and soft like water lapping against your skin. What begins as a tight, restrained aroma, slowly evolves into a beautiful red fruit bouquet enlaced with subtle earthy notes of a wet forest floor, rich dark chocolate and deep gray slate. This is a sensual, lush wine that isn’t going to roll you over with sheer power, but rather present itself as a perfectly integrated wine that needs a little coaxing to come out of its shell. The palate reminded me of when I first bit into one of Ryan’s homemade chocolate truffles, as the texture was so creamy, so delicate, yet so intense, my knees buckled. Add the smoky vanilla aroma backed by dark luscious red fruit and you have a beautiful marriage! Therefore, in my mind, the label told a story of the texture of the wine, silky long finish and the bright elegance one might experience drinking the wine.

We had also tried the 2005 Casa Balanguer, a wine starkly different from the Beryna. While the Bernya grapes are grown in a lower altitude, the Casa Balaguer varieties not only come from a higher altitude on the mountain, but are from primarily calciferous soils. The result can be appreciated in the complexity of the wine. Raspberry and hints of cassis with light wood, smoke and delicate touches of pepper and green herbs, it’s a more rustic and elusive wine – darker in both flavor and fruit.

Both wines, however, paired absolutely beautifully with Ryan’s braised pork cheeks on a bed of grilled eggplant, artichokes and wild mushrooms alongside a dollop of creamed sweet potatoes and adorned with a reduced honey, pomegranate and sherry glaze.

Bodega Bernabe Navarro is located in the valley between Villena and La Cañada in the northwestern part of Alicante. The estate called Casa Balaguer occupies 40 hectares of land, cultivated not only with Monastrell, but also Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauviñon, Merlot and Syrah. The bodega is currently also experimenting with Graciano, Malbec and Garnacha Tintorea in hopes of creating a line of monovarietal wines.

This is a Bodega that prides itself on producing small yields, between 3-3,500 kilos per hectare, placing an enormous amount of time and effort to ensure the quality of each and every grape grown. Grapes are handpicked and meticulously hand sorted to guarantee the quality of the free run juice used in their wines. Grapes are fermented separately by orientation in the vineyard, the soils they were grown in, the quality and the style of the grape. Detail is of the utmost attention, an ideology that is carried through from harvest to aging in barrel. At Bodega Bernabe Navarro, barrels do not come in your typical American and French oak varietal. Wines are aged in a series of different types of barrels ranging in both size and style. French, American, Russian, Eastern European and Spanish oak are all utilized and toasted in varying amounts. And although the oak is always new, wines are placed in anywhere from 5,000 liter to 20,000 liter barrels to enhance or subdue the level of oak influence. Therefore, when tasting the wine, you may be able to pick out a unique flavor or aroma profile coming directly from the amount of oak used from the respective country.

Overall, we were impressed with both the winery the wines. Although I haven’t had enough wines aged in Eastern European oak to tell you whether I could taste in the wine, I enjoyed the idea that the wine was influenced from an international array of forests. I highly suggest you pick either of these wines. They delicious wines and worthy of you seeking them out.

Cheers,
Gabriella

D.O./D.O.C/D.O.Ca: Alicante
Address: Plaza de la Constitución, 7- 1º 03380 Bigastro (Alicante)
Telephone: +351 966 770 353
Fax: +351 966 770 353
Email: info@bodegasbernabenavarro.com
Website: http://www.bodegasbernabenavarro.com
Bodega Founded: 2000
Hectares of Vines: 40 Ha.
Production in Liters 150,000
Grape Varieties Grown: Moscatell, Monastrell, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignón, Syrah and Merlot
Enologist: Jose Aº Amorós
Distribution: 30% Spain, 40% USA, 3% Belgium, 2% Italy, 25% Switzerland.
Importer: Grapes of Spain
Wines Elaborated:
R. Beryna
Casa Balaguer
Beryna Seleccion

Ryan’s Tasting Notes

Beryna 2005
Red wine produced by Bernabe Navarro in ALICANTE, Spain
Note: Beautiful red color with a nose that is still holding out after a short time open. An earthy nose of light barnyard quality with notes of cherry, and raspberry fruit. Light chocolate hints elbow their way in with a slate and dusty country road quality that acts a veil to the fruit hidden in the shadows. Wow in the mouth the wine is soft yet full of life and lushness. Split open a vanilla bean and inhale through your mouth, the small particles of aroma dance on the tongue with the soon to come red fruit struggling to get past the fine but present tannins. Pure cherry fruit with a raspberry twist all mingle with a well balanced wood component that while present in the foreground is more like a stack of wood at that edge of the property with raspberry brambles crawling up it’s backside. Chocolate, and light mint make a show of it, but this wine needs time to fully develop.
(Tasted on October 27, 2007)

Casa Balaguer 2005
Red wine produced by Bernabe Navarro in ALICANTE, Spain
Note: Nice deep red color to this wine. Wound up tight in a veil of dusty minerals the fruit in this wine at first stay’s hidden and elusive. Slate and a sour raspberry quality slowly emerges, with time I want to see where this heads. In the mouth a strong acidity and a lush mouth coating quality are there with chocolaty tannins, soft yet firm at the same time. I love the way this wine is gentle and yet strong full of character, restrained like a dinner guest who has yet to given their opinion of the meal. Raspberry and hints of cassia and with light wood, smoke and delicate touches of pepper and green herbs. Worth checking out, and I’ll add to this as it opens.
(Tasted on October 27, 2007)

Gabriella’s Tasting Notes

Beryna 2005
Red wine produced by Bernabe Navarro in ALICANTE, Spain
Note: Brilliant dark cherry with a bright violet rim leading to a slightly reserved nose. However, it’s worth your wait because when the aromas do come alive, they burst into action showing concentrated, creamy and robust aromas of red fruit, fresh muddy forest floor and light spice among with slight toasted coffee and wood notes intermingle. Gorgeous! But it’s not only the nose that envelopes your senses, it’s the palate. The soft creamy palate created by unbelievably fine tannins is enhanced by the touch of acidity provided to keep your tastebuds alert. It reminds me of when I first bit into one of Ryan’s homemade chocolate truffles, as the texture was so creamy, so delicate, yet so intense, my knees buckled. Add the smoky vanilla aroma backed by dark luscious red fruit and you have a beautiful marriage! Highly recommend this wine!
(Tasted on October 27, 2007)

Casa Balaguer 2005
Deep garnet red in color with a tight, reserved nose that eventually unveils deep rich cassis aromas followed by dark black fruit, bitter chocolate and toasted oak. Rich and round mouthfeel with lush firm tannins and bright acidity. Note the acidity, however, because it teeters on being a little overwhelming, yet doesn’t quite reach the breaking point creating an intriguing burst of vivaciousness. Strangely appealing. The palate is complex, slowly unveiling dark fruit, licorice, cassis and tobacco.
(Tasted on October 27, 2007)

  • RichardA

    Have either of you had the 2004 Beryna? If so, what were your thoughts? I am a big fan of Monastrell based wines but the 2004 Beryna did not really impress me. It was a good wine and I enjoyed it but it cost $20 which I felt was too high for what you got. There are plenty of $10 wines from that region which I would say equalled or bettered that Beryna.

  • Gabriella

    No, I haven't Richard, but it's good to know that you felt it wasn't a good value for what you experienced. I take it you haven't had the 2005 as of yet. Would you try the 2005 after having a less than stellar experience with the 2004?

  • RichardA

    I have not tried the 2005 yet. And normally I would not have tried the 2005 after my experiences with their 2004. But, based on your reviews, I may be willing to give it a try.

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  • http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/ RichardA

    Have either of you had the 2004 Beryna? If so, what were your thoughts?

    I am a big fan of Monastrell based wines but the 2004 Beryna did not really impress me. It was a good wine and I enjoyed it but it cost $20 which I felt was too high for what you got. There are plenty of $10 wines from that region which I would say equalled or bettered that Beryna.

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    No, I haven’t Richard, but it’s good to know that you felt it wasn’t a good value for what you experienced. I take it you haven’t had the 2005 as of yet. Would you try the 2005 after having a less than stellar experience with the 2004?

  • http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/ RichardA

    I have not tried the 2005 yet. And normally I would not have tried the 2005 after my experiences with their 2004. But, based on your reviews, I may be willing to give it a try.

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