The wine of the week: Eternidad CVC from Arínzano

From Arínzano they affirm that they have been cultivating “the mystery of time and nature” for almost 1000 years.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
11 May 2024 Saturday 22:41
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The wine of the week: Eternidad CVC from Arínzano

From Arínzano they affirm that they have been cultivating “the mystery of time and nature” for almost 1000 years. They add that its soils located in a Navarrese valley crossed by the Ega River, its microclimate and its biodiversity are unique, extremely rich and ideal for the production of high quality wines. It is a very beautiful place with a lot of history. The particularities of its terroir meant that in 2007 Propiedad de Arínzano became the third winery in Spain and the first in the north to obtain the qualification of Protected Designation of Origin Vino de Pago (from Arínzano). Over the last millennium, his estate has been owned successively by monks, lords and wine-growing families, but it has always had a vocation linked to wine.

Two stone mugs marked by the centuries still bear the original inscription: Señorío de Arínzano. Here begins the estate that Sancho Fortuñones received in 1055 from King García Sánchez VI for having saved his life and reestablishing him on the throne of Navarre. Sancho Fortuñones was renamed Sancho Fortuñones de Arínzano and granted it as inheritance to a neighboring community of monks to dedicate it to the cultivation of wine for five centuries. He then began the winemaking task of the property.

After the time of the monks, came that of the great noble families with Lope de Eulate, first advisor to the last King of Navarre, who gave him the estate in 1520. Lope de Eulate, then Lord of Arínzano, decided to build a stone fortification in 1532 intended to protect the property, known as Torre de Cabo de Armerías. Starting in 1715, the Marquis Zabalegui and his successors dedicated the property exclusively to the cultivation of vineyards. It was the Marquis of Zabalegui who ordered the construction of La Casona, a family resting place where they could appreciate the peace of the environment and take shelter after long days of hunting. Today, La Casona continues to be a guest house. In the 19th century, his descendants built the church of San Martín de Tours, patron saint of winegrowers.

After the devastating phylloxera crisis that ruined the vine plantations, the Chivite family entrusted Denis Dubourdieu, renowned French winemaker and agronomist, with the replanting of the estate according to a parcel approach to the terroir with varieties such as Chardonnay, Merlot and Tempranillo. . In 1997, architect Afael Moneo designed and built the winery that embraces the three existing historic buildings. In 2015, Tenute del Mondo acquired the property as part of its collection of boutique wineries, including Masseto, Ornellaia and Achaval Ferrer.

Arínzano is located in the municipality of Aberin, in the Estella district of the Estella Oriental region (Foral Community of Navarra). There are 127.95 hectares of vineyards, of which 70 are Tempranillo, 30 Chardonnay, 18 Merlot and 10 Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyards are planted on soils made up of loams, sands, limestones and limonites from the Neogene era, along with gypsum and dolomites from the Triassic. Each of the varieties was planted in a specific type of soil and orientation of the farm, which best adapts to its cultivation. There are a total of 20 plots. The Ega River divides the vineyards in two, moderating temperatures.

The climate is Atlantic influenced. The Sierra de Cantabria and the Sierra de Urbasa shelter the valley, creating a corridor that allows the entry of cold air that refreshes the environment. On average there is 5ºC less than in neighboring areas. The vegetative period is long, slow and homogeneous, “which helps to obtain subtle and elegant wines.” Shallow soils, such as the pebbles where Chardonnay grows, are compensated by an annual rainfall of around 600 millimeters. They work with very low yields, around 3,000 kilos of grapes per hectare.

Their chardonnay is defined as “one of the jewels of the estate.” Arínzano has just launched its first two wines on the market, Arínzano Pureza and Arínzano Armonía, derived from Chardonnay Lab, a project that aims to bring out the greatest potential of the white variety through experimentation. For three harvests, the winemaking team has evaluated different elements of the production and aging of Chardonnay, in order to select those that are most faithful to the terroir and the variety itself.

The Chardonnay Lab is made up of 36 containers of different materials and capacities - from barrels of different origins, years and toasts; concrete tanks of various shapes and capacities; jars or foudres – where the wine made with chardonnay from the most qualitative plot of the estate (Canteras) has been refined. After several years of debate, analysis and tastings, in which sector specialists from outside the winery have also participated, two of the first bottled wines from the Chardonnay Lab have been released to the market.

But its spearhead in terms of its i D i is Eternidad, a multi-faceted chardonnay of the highest range that debuts on the market this May. Its grapes are born in the Cantos Pinos vineyard. It is a CVC (group of several vintages) fruit of the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 vintages and the traditional system of criaderas and soleras. It is a Navarrese wine without equal. An annual extraction of 33% of the content of 225-liter French oak barrels is carried out, with medium and medium-plus roasting.

In the barrels, which are kept full of wine, lees removal work is carried out for six months (initially twice a week). The technical director, winemaker José Manuel Rodríguez Aguado, assures that “it is the most complex wine we are making.” He works by translating the surtablas and the solera, and explains that it is a wine that suggests eternity due to the many hours of work that its production has required. He adds that “the time spent is eternity.” Each label of the first 500 bottles sold is unique. Each of them includes a fragment of a work of art signed by Teresa J. Cuevas, a Madrid artist with architectural training and devotion.

This first vintage of Eternidad shows a golden color, with slight cloudiness (it is not filtered). In the olfactory phase it exhibits stone fruit and a tip of acetaldehyde (raw almond), candied orange peel, peach, pastry and Catalan cream with a balsamic background. Notes of aromatic herbs in infusion such as chamomile stand out. In the taste phase it shows great balance, with a glyceric tactile sensation, good acidity, a liquorish tip (15º) and a final saline touch. The evolution of the fruit (peach) compensates for the dryness. Round and complex, tasty and voluminous. Notes of noble wood (vanilla, cedar and smoked) well placed, although perceptible. Structure thanks to the work of the lees. A kaleidoscopic white.

José Manuel Rodríguez Aguado believes that Eternidad is a wine “more focused on dessert than on the rest of the meal.” He states that “it is a reflective wine more for conversation around five or six in the afternoon than for eating.” He likes to pair it with hot chocolate toast with oil, pepper and a pinch of Maldon salt. Although he also enjoys it with some good buttery Navarrese beans. Paulo Huidobro, the winery's commercial director, prefers to accompany it with some lamb ribs with vine shoots. It is also ideal for the steak tartare finished at the table at the La Olla restaurant on Roncesvalles Avenue in Pamplona or with sea and mountain rice.

Currently this Navarrese winery produces around 280,000 bottles annually, of which it exports around 70%. Switzerland, the United States and Hong Kong are its three main international markets. In Arínzano they are open to wine tourism. They host corporate events and weddings, and also offer visits to discover the estate, the vineyards and their biodiversity, accommodation options (they have two luxurious guest houses, each with four bedrooms), tourist activities in the surroundings, gourmet gastronomic experiences and wine tastings. Property of Arínzano offers gastronomic experiences with regional specialties, local and seasonal products; as well as menus prepared by Navarrese chef Enrique Martínez to pair with his Pago wines.