Wines of Navarra Paired with Grill Roasted Rabbit

Wines of Navarra at the grill

Wines of Navarra Invade the US!
Have you ever heard of the Navarra region of Spain? Me neither. The winemakers of Navarra have banded together to promote the region in the US, and I was given the opportunity to receive a full set of samples for review. I had a fun evening enjoying the wines over a dinner of grill roasted rabbit. I thoroughly enjoyed the wines, and except for the dessert wine, all retail for well under $20; read on!

Look south and east of Bilbao. Navarra (in orange) is located next to the famous Rioja region. Map courtesy of

Where’s Navarra?
Navarra is located in north-central Spain. Its’ location between the Pyrenees mountains, the ocean, and the Ebro river brings multiple climate influences conducive to producing a variety of types of wine. The region sits just across the Ebro river from the most famous wine region of Spain, Rioja. While the grapes used are similar to its famous neighbor, I found the wines overall to be less oak influenced, with abundant freshness.

Bodegas Ochoa "Calendas" White Blend Navarra DO

Bodegas Ochoa “Calendas” White Blend

Bodegas Ochoa “Calendas” White Wine Navarra DO 2016 (sample, $15 MSRP)
Grapes: Chardonnay 70%, Viura 23%, Moscatel 7%
12% abv
Eye: Clean, very pale yellow with a broad clear rim
Nose: Clean, floral (white flowers), fresh citrus
Mouth: Dry, medium- body, medium+ acidity. Refreshing lightly citrus and floral

Castillo Monjardin "El Cerezo" Unoaked Chardonnay

Castillo Monjardin “El Cerezo” Unoaked Chardonnay

Castillo Monjardin “El Cerezo” Unoaked Chardonnay 2015 Navarra DO (sample, $16 SRP)
Winemaking: Chardonnay, fermented in stainless, unoaked. 13% abv
Eye: Clear, pale yellow with clear rim
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. Fresh, barely ripe pears and apples, a bit of floral influence. A touch of yeasty lees?
Mouth: Dry, medium body, medium+ acidity. Fresh, nice pear and apple.

Bodegas Ochoa Calendas Garnacha Rosado

Bodegas Ochoa Calendas Garnacha Rosado

Bodegas Ochoa Calendas Garnacha Rosado Navarra Rosado DO 2016 (sample, $15 MSRP)
Eye: Clear, intense pink color, narrow clear edge
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. Strawberries & cream on the nose, almost candied, but still nice and full fruit.
Mouth: Dry, high lip-smacking acidity. Very fresh, strong strawberry fruit, medium finish.

Castillo Monjardin Garnacha "La Cantera"

Castillo Monjardin Garnacha “La Cantera”

Castillo Monjardin Garnacha “La Cantera” Navarra Tinto DO 2015 (sample, $12 MSRP)
13.5% abv This wine is 100% Garnacha from old vines. It was aged 6 months in American oak.
Eye: Clear, medium- intensity, you can almost read through it, not quite. Ruby with a cool edge
Nose: Clean, ripe strawberries with a bit of cedar behind?
Mouth: Dry, medium+ body, medium acidity, medium- tannins. Medium finish. Fruit forward but not overdone, nice wine.

Castillo Monjardin "Origen" Crianza Coupage Selecion Navarra Crianza

Castillo Monjardin “Origen” Crianza Coupage Selecion Navarra Crianza

Castillo Monjardin “Origen” Crianza Coupage Selecion Navarra Crianza DO 2013 (sample, $12 MSRP)
14% abv This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo. As a Crianza, it is aged for 12 months in oak barriques.
Eye: Clear, medium+ ruby with a ruby edge
Nose: Clean, ripe but not stewed dark blue fruit, with herbal elements, rosemary
Mouth: Dry, medium+ body, medium acidity, medium tannins. Ripe blackberries, rosemary, & a touch of graphite. Medium finish.

Grill roasted rabbit with a variety of Navarra wines

Rabbit tasted with a variety of Navarra wines

For Dinner: Grill Roasted Rabbit with Wines of Navarra
I served the rabbit with roasted carrots, cherry tomatoes, chard and green lentils. See what I did there? Rabbits ravage my garden in the summer and our bushes in the winter. They particularly love to cut the chard right down to the ground. The tomatoes, they just “sample” and leave half-eaten tomatoes on the vine. I was imagining putting up a sign on the grill: “Free chard and carrots courtesy of Acme Inc”, but I thought an anvil might fall on me!

How did the wines do with the rabbit? Of the whites, I thought the Chardonnay was the best choice. It had a fuller body than the lighter blend and stood up to the grill flavors. The rosado was nice, with good body and acidity, however, the strong strawberry flavors didn’t match up as well with the food. It was good, but not great. The big winner of all the wines tonight (for me) was the Garnacha. It had just the right balance of body, acid and tannins, and the fruit was there but there was an earth component as well. The Crianza “Origen” red blend was a wine that needed something bigger than the rabbit, it would have been perfect with steak. (click on any photo to see full size slide show, “escape” to exit)

For Dessert – Vino Dulce Natural
You might enjoy sipping a small glass of the Capricho d’Goya all by itself, or as a topping for a scoop of vanilla ice cream or gelato.

Bodegas Camilocastilla "Capricho d'Goya Navarra Vino Dulce Natural

Bodegas Camilocastilla “Capricho d’Goya Navarra Vino Dulce Natural

Bodegas Camilocastilla “Capricho d’Goya Navarra Vino Dulce Natural DO (sample, $29 MSRP)
16% abv
Eye: Clear, deep brown with a narrow chocolate brown edge. deeply stained legs, viscous
Nose: Clean, nuts, fig newtons!
Mouth: Very sweet, luscious, medium+ acidity. Ripe cooked figs. Delicious, reminds me of a PX sherry dialed back to be drinkable!

Simple Rub for Grill Roasted Rabbit


  • 1 rabbit, 2-3 lbs, cut into 6 pieces
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • 6 Tbsp Granulated Garlic
  • 3 Tbsp Lemon Rind
  • 2 Tbsp Granulated Onion
  • 1 tsp Rubbed Sage
  • ½ tsp Smoked Sweet Paprika
  • ½ tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper


  • Set your grill for indirect heat and 300°F
  • Coat the rabbit pieces with a thin layer of mustard (helps the marinade stick)
  • Coat the rabbit pieces with the rub
  • Place the rabbit pieces on the grill, with the rear legs nearest the warmest area.
  • Be careful to move the pieces around to ensure they all are properly cooked and not overcooked.
  • Roast to an internal temperature of 160°F. Rabbit is lean, so be sure to avoid overcooking.
  • Serve with roast carrots, tomatoes, chard and green lentils

Disclosure: I received all five wines as samples. All opinions are mine.

Wines of Navarra paired with Grill Roasted Rabbit. Visit for details


2 Responses to “Wines of Navarra Paired with Grill Roasted Rabbit”
  1. I don’t believe you have never heard of Navarra. 😉

  2. lgowdy says:

    So cool! We visited Bodgeas Camilo Castilla on a Spanish “food, hiking and wine” themed trip. Such an interesting bodega, and process for making their wines. First time we’d seen aging in demijohns on the roof in the sun. Your review of their wine is just how I remember it- thanks for taking me back to Navarra!

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