Chivite and Arzak

I had a superb meal at the legendary Arzak restaurant in San Sebastien a couple of years ago, where the Arzak family has retained three Michelin stars ever since 1989. Owner and head chef, Juan Mari Arzak, has also put his name to two fascinating wines released by the Chivite company, arguably the best known producer in the Navarra region, and certainly one of the oldest, having been founded in 1647.

Julián Chivite explains that it was during an annual tasting between him and Juan Mari Arzak several years ago that the idea for a joint project to produce a dry, gastronomic rosé came about. That wine, first released with the 2014 vintage, was unsual: in style it nods fairly obviously towards pale and cool Provence, but the 100% Garnacha wine is fermented and aged for 10 months in French oak barriques.

This year, a second wine under the Chivite and Arzak joint project has been launched, this time a white wine made from ‘2 Garnachas’, specifically Grenache and Grenache Blanc. It sees partial French oak barrel fermentation and ageing, and like the rosé, has been designed as a gastronomic wine, perhaps particularly suited to fine Basque cuisine. Julián Chivite recently sent me the latest 2018 vintage releases to taste the wines for myself.

The Wines

(2020) Grenache and Grenache Blanc are combined here in a wine that has seen partial barrel fermentation, followed by ageing on the lees for five months. It's a wine with a very appealing blend of power and concentration, but good freshness and a vivacious side too. Cool, orchard fruit and citrus aromas have just a little suggestion of maybe marshmallow, or certainly something sweet with a touch of berry fruit. In the mouth it has good texture and weight, very cool and pure fruit, and the acidity drives the wine to the finish.
(2020) One of the more unusual and more interesting pink wines, principally because it is a rare barrel-fermented rosé, the blend composed of 54% Garnacha (Grenache) and 46% Tempranillo, from Chivite's Navarra vineyards in northern Spain. It is pale in colour and pretty on the nose, the aromas immediately betray that barrel influence from the Alliers oak, vanilla, toast and a touch of truffle, but that's amongst the fragrant raspberry and summery, blossom fruits. In the mouth that creaminess and toast from the barrel is evident again, adding lots of intrigue, and melting into the soft pillow of red berries, a good and slightly salty acidity, all completing a fascinating picture.

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