About this WINE
Enrique Basarte and Elisa Ucar, the dynamic team behind Domaines Lupier, have nurtured their fascination for old vine Garnacha by acquiring 27 parcels in the hills of Navarra, all based around the precipitous village of San Martín de Unx. These vineyards are located at altitudes ranging from 400 to 700 metres above the sea, and their photogenic vines date back to 1903.
The Terroir cuvée comes from old vines with low yields and is aged for 14 months in barrels of differing size. La Dama is an exceptional expression of Garnacha; the vines are located at 750 metres and have been farmed at extremely low yields. A true expression of what Enrique describes as ‘Atlantic mountain viticulture’, the 2010 is rich, ripe and generously structured
Navarra has come off the shadows of its mighty neighbour Rioja, to carve its own identity for modern, attractively priced wines from indigenous and international varieties. The region of Navarra extends from the central Pyrenees to the Ebro Valley with its vineyards located in the southern part of the region, between Pamplona and the plains.
Until the 1980s Navarra was best known for its traditional rosé wines made from Garnacha, but it has since gained a reputation for being at the forefront of oenological innovation. This transformation was due in large part to the work of the Navarra Viticulture and Oenological Research Station, which has helped turn the region into a producer of diverse (mostly red) varietals and wine styles, from Tempranillo-rich Gran Reservas and fruity rosados to modern single-varietals from international grapes.
Grenache (Noir) is widely grown and comes in a variety of styles. Believed to originate in Spain, it was, in the late 20th century, the most widely planted black grape variety in the world. Today it hovers around seventh in the pecking order. It tends to produce very fruity, rich wines that can range quite widely in their level of tannin.
In many regions – most famously the Southern Rhône, where it complements Syrah and Mourvèdre, among other grapes – it adds backbone and colour to blends, but some of the most notable Châteauneuf du Pape producers (such as Château Rayas) make 100 percent Grenache wines. The grape is a component in many wines of the Languedoc (where you’ll also find its lighter-coloured forms, Grenache Gris and Blanc) and is responsible for much southern French rosé – taking the lead in most Provence styles.
Found all over Spain as Garnacha Tinta (spelt Garnaxa in Catalonia), the grape variety is increasingly detailed on wine labels there. Along with Tempranillo, it forms the majority of the blend for Rioja’s reds and has been adopted widely in Navarra, where it produces lighter styles of red and rosado (rosé). It can also be found operating under a pseudonym, Cannonau, in Sardinia.
Beyond Europe, Grenache is widely planted in California and Australia, largely thanks to its ability to operate in high temperatures and without much water. Particularly in the Barossa Valley, there are some extraordinary dry-farmed bush vines, some of which are centuries old and produce wines of startling intensity.
Domaines Lupier is the name of the project of husband and wife Enrique Basarte and Elisa Ucar. They are from Pamplona and started searching for old-vine Garnacha vineyards in different zones of Spain, but were finally convinced that what they were looking for was close to home, in Navarra. They walked the vineyards and chewed hundreds of grapes to make sure they had the quality of tannins they were looking for and they finally found it in the village of San Martin de Unx (plus a small one in Olite). The vines range from 68 years old to over 100 years old (the oldest vineyard they have is from 1903).
They have 17 hectares in 27 separate plots. Altitudes vary, and so does the soil composition, it’s basically argilo-calcareous, but the amount of chalk, clay and gravel differs from plot to plot. They also purchased a large house in the village where they live and have their 50,000-bottle winery. They sold their grapes until 2008, when they bottled their first vintage. 2010 is a balanced, fresh and elegant vintage, and their wines experienced a quantum leap from previous years. They feel much more integrated and balanced, more in harmony with the oak, and are highly recommended. They are growing and improving with each vintage. This is a name to follow.
Luis Gutierrez eRobertParker.com #213 Jun 2014