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The deeply colored, well-bred 2006 Guelbenzu Evo displays a wealth of aromatic fireworks along with a lingering array of flavors. Reminiscent of classified Bordeaux, the aroma of rich ripe Cabernet Sauvignon is the first scent to dazzle the nose, but hardly the last. An artful blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Tempranillo, and 17% Merlot, the 2006 Evo reveals plenty of deep down fruit: blackberry, cassis, and currant are tastefully wedded to hints of dark chocolate, graphite, and incense. As the wine breathes, it reveals layer upon layer of lush fruit and well delineated flavors. Wood and spice tones mingle with the wealth of black fruits and mineral tones – all of which melt into Evo’s firm, ripe tannins. Although beautiful now, the 2006 Evo will continue to improve in bottle for four or five more years and then drink well for up to a decade or more. For optimal enjoyment, we suggest serving the 2006 Guelbenzu Evo slightly above cellar temperature (about 64°F) after decanting and allowing it to breathe for thirty minutes.
Grilled lamb or beef, pungent meat and vegetable stews, and just about any highly charged meat or vegetable dish will pair well with the 2006 Guelbenzu Evo. Traditional Spanish fare, classic French and Provencal dishes, and even a wealth of Northern Italian specialties offer excellent complements to this wine. Roast lamb or pork in a black olive paste; Florentine Steak; and veal chops, served with a creamy risotto, are just a few of our favorite pairings with Guelbenzu’s Evo. However, if you are looking to elevate some simple, but tasty, dish such as black beans and rice or meatloaf, the 2006 Evo can add the crowning touch. Given the opulent flavor and texture of the 2006 Guelbenzu Evo, this rich elegantly wrought wine also speaks volumes all by itself. Yet, it offers such exquisite companionship to hand crafted cheeses that it would be a shame not to double the pleasure. Some particularly fine cheese pairings with Evo include aged Cheddar, Smoked Gouda, and Havarti. Manchego also provides a veritable treat and a crowning touch to a superb dinner party, especially when accompanied by a glass of Evo.
For centuries, the Guelbenzu family of Cascante has been enjoying great acclaim for their innovative, award winning wines. As far back as 1851 and the First Universal Exposition in London (the forerunner of the World’s Fair), Don Miguel Guelbenzu was wowing audiences with his remarkably rich, atypical Navarra wines, at a time when Navarra was hardly a household word. A graduate of the Sorbonne with a degree in Chemistry, Don Miguel went on to great critical and commercial success in Navarra; his wines won gold medals in all of Europe’s most illustrious competitions, including at the time the world’s most prestigious wine fair – the Exposition Universelle de Bordeaux. Therefore, it is in the spirit and tradition of Don Miguel that his eight great-grandchildren pooled their resources in 1980 and resurrected their ancestor’s great wine estate, thereby restoring the legacy and the good name of their famous forefather.
In the early 20th century, the Guelbenzu property, like so many Spanish wine estates in the last century (especially those outside of the favored regions of Rioja and Jerez) suffered from the crippling blows of vine diseases, war, hardship and neglect, which virtually ceased wine production. In order to reverse the family’s wine fortune, the eight Guelbenzu siblings got together and planted 98 acres of choice vineyard plots encircling the ancestral home in Cascante to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo. These plots sit at the foot of towering, snow capped Mt. Moncayo, which provides just enough run-off to moisten the Guelbenzu vineyards throughout Navarra’s hot, drought-plagued summers, so that today all of the estate’s vineyards are dry farmed. To assure quality and avoid the use of young or immature vines, the family waited until 1989 before bottling their first vintage and re-launching their family vineyard estate – such is the family’s attention to detail and quality.
The present production at Guelbenzu averages 250,000 bottles per year, most of which is bottled as Guelbenzu Azul. However, when conditions are ideal Guelbenzu fashions several very special wines, including Evo and Lautus. Evo is a strictly limited production wine that is made only in the finest vintages from some of the very best and oldest of the estate’s vines. Traditionally, it is a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
Today, Guelbenzu combines the best of traditional wine making with modern techniques. The contemporary winery in which Azul, Evo, and Lautus are made maintains Don Miguel’s original gravity flow design from 1851. However, stainless steel fermentation tanks are now in use at Guelbenzu, having been inserted through the roof of a nearby building that was formerly used for pressing olive oil. Yet, the best of tradition still lives on at Guelbenzu in the aging process. In the original wine cellar, large custom made Allier oak uprights fill the space that Don Miguel made famous. We are confident that Don Miguel would be proud of the restoration at Guelbenzu and of his progeny for providing living testimony to Navarra’s place in history.
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