A 20-minute drive from the bustling city of Pamplona in northern Spain lies an incredible treat for wine and art lovers alike – Bodega Otazu. This Navarra winery is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys modern art and delicious wine.
The scenic countryside surrounding the estate features softly rolling hills and abundant rows of vines used in the estate wines. The winery is housed within a grand historic building dating from 1840. In order to preserve the lovely landscape, 70% of the facility is housed underground.
Upon entering the interior, I was immediately struck by a spectacular sculpture of a woman’s head. This large scale work conveyed strength, beauty, and elegance. It is also the image on many of Otazu’s wine labels. Then I was led through a long hallway featuring antique winemaking equipment and instructive displays that oriented visitors to the winery’s vineyard properties and wines.
My visit was part of an organized press tour by the Navarra wine region – but all tourists can make their own appointment for a 90 or 120 minute tour by visiting Otazu’s web site. To ensure your preferred date and time, it’s advisable to reserve in advance.
After viewing the entry area, visitors can tour the extensive art collections within the property. Our guide told us that the current owners have established an art foundation and believe that wine is “the only art you can drink.” I was particularly excited to learn about the many artists who have collaborated with the winery to produce one of a kind pieces that are on display. These are works that cause an array of emotions – from pleasurable to provocative. There is also a premium level wine available in packaging that is itself a work of art – a truly unique experience for wine collectors.
I always love unique wine tourism experiences, and Bodega Otazu’s art-centric experience was truly one of the best I’ve had. Even the large barrel room featured original works. Some of these were works that were created using the winery’s barrels, including a barrel with lights in a star-shaped configuration hanging from the ceiling. The lights could be activated by placing your finger on a sensor and then they would shine in rhythm to your heartbeat – an incredible experience.
But Bodega Otazu offers more than just unique art. I was able to taste through many of their current releases as noted below:
Palacio de Eirada Chardonnay 2021 – A crisp, clean wine with fresh citrus aromas, appealing lemon notes, and refreshing acidity.
Pago de Otazu Chardonnay 2019 – A hand-harvested, limited edition Chardonnay with pear on the nose and palate, a round mouthfeel, rich toffee notes, and a long finish.
Rosado Merlot 2021 – This was a fresh rose with bright red fruit notes on the palate and a nose of bacon and red candy.
Premium Cuvee 2019 – This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Merlot. It’s aged in oak for 12 months and rests another 14 months in bottle. The wine offered aromas of black cherry, and on the palate there was a plush mouthfeel, gentle tannins and black and red fruit flavors – for an overall pleasing and not heavy red.
2019 Pago de Otazu Tinto – A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, this wine sees longer aging before being released – 18 months in barrel and another 36 in bottle. It’s a very aromatic wine with ripe red fruit notes and well-integrated tannins – a wine that can age.
2010 Altar – Our group was lucky to taste an older vintage – this one was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was fragrant with black plum and minerality, with a flavor of blackberry compote and slight balsamic notes, well-integrated tannins and a long finish. A delicious wine to drink now or hold.
My overall impression of Otazu is that I would recommend a visit to anyone in the Navarra region or who wants to take a drive over to Navarra during a trip to Spain. I also will be looking for Otazu wines on the shelf as they offer delicious value.