Gran Villa, Navarra 2006 Gran Réserva: Fermented FIFA

As much as we are trying to combat the elitist, pretentious, wanky stigma attached to wine culture, I’ll fully admit that I sometimes demonstrate a couple of those traits. It’s at those times I remember that I’m a working class northerner and I promptly have a word with myself. The thing is, Lily and I read as many articles and reviews on wine as we can, which means that we’re presented with the same, sometimes exclusive, terminology and bullshit on a daily basis – ultimately, it’s hard to not find ourselves regurgitating it occasionally!

My friends have no qualms with letting me know when I’m being a wine wanker and I guess I appreciate it, even if that does mean them telling me relentlessly. Luckily, they’re also open to trying wines with me.

I recently went over to a mate’s place for a session on FIFA 17 with ‘the lads’ and brought a bottle over for them to try. My friends will fully admit that they know sod all about wine and, when they’re out drinking, it won’t even be on their radar to order a glass/bottle. However, that doesn’t mean that they won’t try it if someone offers.

After receiving a 5-0 FIFA thrashing and subsequently having to post a public Facebook apology (I love FIFA but I’m terrible at it), I presented everyone with a bottle of Gran Villa, Navarra, 2006 Gran Reserva. Basically, in layman’s terms: a red wine, typically blended with Merlot & Graciano from Navarra (Spain), that has spent at least five years ageing before being put on sale. I poured a few glasses and passed one to our reigning FIFA champion Louis, who had narrowly clinched a last gasp winner in extra time against bitter rival, Andy. As I offered him the glass, he replied, “Let me text the Mrs back and then I’ll start sucking it off.” That’s definitely the first time I’ve heard that particular phrase used when it comes to wine tasting…

I demonstrated the ‘proper’ way to taste wine and explained why us wankers do this and then let them taste. Pete; a 27 year old sports writer and pun enthusiast said, “It was slightly acidic but with fruity overtones, I normally find wine too harsh but that was pretty easy to drink!”… Louis was too busy ‘sucking it off’ to initially comment on it but he actually didn’t really like it. He agreed it was fruity but for him it was too acidic.

Personally, I think this was possibly my favourite wine I’ve had so far in 2017. I don’t normally particularly favour Merlot (a hangover from watching the film Sideways as an easily influenced teenager) but this was almost the perfect blend. It was a lovely light purple and, on the nose, I was immediately hit with freshness.

A lot of the time, wine professionals like to be as specific as possible when describing aromas in wine.  This was vibrant like a recently picked punnet of strawberries…. But, to be honest, I can’t even pinpoint exactly what it smelled like – and I don’t really care; it just smelled nice. End of story.

I took a swig, sloshed it around my mouth and it was just a joy to drink. Pete and Louis were right, it was pretty acidic but I believe it was perfectly balanced by hints of tannin. I normally think that Merlot can be a bit lacklustre, so I pleased that the presence of Graciano and little addition of Tempranillo gave this wine more structure and the Garnacha/Grenache really brought out the aromas and flavours.

It was a delicate wine but had a long finish and, because of the great balance of tannin and acidity, there was complexity to it whilst still being an easy drink. To be honest, I just wanted to get rid of the glass and swig it from the bottle. This wine is definitely in its peak as the flavours just went together so perfectly – I would take advantage of it while it’s in its prime if I were you. £11.99 from Vrigin Wines is such a bargain. I’d have been happy to pay closer to £20 to be honest.

If you buy a bottle or six of this, you could pair it with food. But I would just drink it on its own. It doesn’t need to complement anything or need anything complementing it. It’s mature enough to say, “Hey! Stop messing around and just drink me!”

I’m glad that my friends contributed to this experience too. It encouraged me to stick to a writing style that’s accessible to everyone, stop regurgitating all the wine jargon and most importantly… stop being a wanker! (That last part will be tough). The only thing that could have made it better is if I hadn’t received such a FIFA spanking.

– James

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