Show us what you’ve got

Drinks: Wines
Location: Europe, Spain

Wines of Navarra recently asked you, the country’s top wine professionals, to make a case for some free wine, and maybe win a trip to the region. Here are the top 10 entries

It was a simple premise. Tell us why Wines of Navarra should send you a sample case of wine, and they’ll do just that. Match those wines to dishes on your menu, and you’ll be in the running for a trip to Spain to see the region for yourself.

Judging by the entries we received, this was something that you’re interested in. Submissions were varied, motivations were diverse, and they came from all-corners of the trade. What they had in common was an interest in and appreciation for an exciting and upcoming region, and a desire to know more about it.

Without further ado, here are the 10 best entrants, with some highlights from their entries. May the best Navarra enthusiast win! For more about the region, visit

Graeme Pallister, chef/owner, 63 Tay Street
‘I think that right now Spain is the most vibrant and exciting wine-producing country in Europe, and maybe even the world. We’ve improved our offering over the last few months and have seen an increasing interest in these wines, especially in those wines from outside the classic Rioja.
I would love to learn more about the wines produced throughout Navarra, and to see how they match with our often aromatic and slightly off-piste food.’

Olivier Gasselin, deputy head sommelier, Hakkasan Hanway Place
‘Our customers are generally very keen on Spanish wines, Rioja and Rias Baixas in particular. We can already offer a few alternatives, but currently don’t list any Navarran wines. I know its reputation based on the rosés, but I would be particularly interested in discovering more about its whites and reds. Chivite and Ochoa were some of the first Spanish wines I tasted, and I am looking forward to trying some more.’

Rob Gringlas, assistant general manager, Platform Bar & Restaurant
‘We’re a new venue in London Bridge with a passion for wine and food matching. A daily changing food menu that prides itself on seasonal specials, diverse meat cuts and day boat fish creates an exciting challenge for matching wine with our food. Navarra is not on our list and with its sterling reputation we’d welcome some samples to match with our menu. We have always had a strong passion for northern Spanish wine.

Martin Lam, chef-proprietor & wine buyer, Ransome’s Dock Restaurant
‘I am a keen supporter of all the wines of Spain, and have worked with some of the best Navarran producers over the last 18.5 years here at Ransome’s Dock, but keeping up to date with what is happening in all of Spain’s regions is a full time job! I last visited Navarra in 1992, the year we opened. I would very much like to return to gain more experience of the region as a whole – its food, culture and wines.’

Roberto Loppi, head sommelier, Hakkasan Mayfair
‘When I think of Navarra I think about rosé wines, but maybe this is my limited experience with this region. In Hakkasan we serve a lot of Spanish wines, and also by the glass, but for reds we mainly list Rioja and Ribera. I’m always looking for a good food wine, so I would like to taste a larger selection of Navarran wines.’

Philippe Loiseau, restaurant manager, Yauatcha 
‘I visited Navarra in October 2009 on a trade trip. I couldn’t imagine how rich that region is, in history, traditional food, and wine production. Three days in Navarra was something I couldn’t forget. My top visit was Ochoa, with Adriana, the daughter, making her first Viognier which we tasted from the barrel. These new generations of winemakers are bringing an air of change to the region. And they can always count on me to visit again.’

Emily O’Hare, founder/sommelier, WhizzBangPop
‘The wines of Navarra need more exposure, much like myself. We are similar in so many ways: Navarra has it all, as do I – it’s just that not enough people seem to have noticed. The region offers everything – reds, whites, rosados and stickies; wines made from indigenous and international varietals, in a range of styles and from different soils, aspects and elevations. I’ve heard about a botrytised Muscat that I need to try, preferably in situ. I’d want a case of wine to show off at the pop-up restaurant I run with two chef friends of mine. Our aim at WhizzBangPop is to show people how exciting food and wine matching can be, and showcase wines that many of our guests may never have heard of or tried before. For too long that light has shone on Rioja. It’s time for Navarra to step out of the shadows, taking me with it!’

Alex Pastrav, manager, The Victoria
‘For gastronomic experiences, Navarra stands at the top table of Spanish cuisine. I think the wine in any region should be influenced by the local produce, and Navarra is no exception. We’ll benefit from having Navarran wines on our list, as our chef is using top Spanish ingredients like morcilla, Alejandro chorizo, serrano ham and Cañajeral cheese. To match these dishes I’d go for the wines of Navarra.’ 

Jose Gustavo Medina Ramirez, sommelier, Tate Catering
‘Navarra is well known for its quality foods and good wines – it’s no wonder Ernest Hemingway fell in
love with it, attracted by its rich culture, as well as the region’s rich and traditional gastronomy. We believe that the rosé, red and sweet wines of Navarra are quality wines. At Tate Catering we have a wide range of styles in cuisine and a diversity of customers. We would love a great chance to match these with our different menus to make the best choices for specific dishes.’

Paul Walker, bars manager, Rockliffe Hall
‘This is my first job working at a five-star level, and to really prove my worth I need to start making a name for myself. This opportunity would provide a chance to show my bosses what I can do to help their business, and make Rockliffe Hall work even better with its food and wine offerings. Help me to prove myself.’

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