Cooking to the Wine: Señorío de Otazu and Broiled Skirt Steak with Romesco Sauce

I’m a big fan of Spanish wines. I think they tend to be great food wines, and I think they’re also extremely underrated. Altogether that means that Spain is also a great place to look for wine values.

Looking back through the posts I’ve shared here, I’m actually surprised to realize I haven’t posted much from Spain (other than the Ameztoi Txakolina Rosé I described here.) I have a few Spanish wines in the hopper for the coming months and I’ve certainly had quite a few amongst my 8 & 20’s (I will drop some links at the end), but somehow, they’ve been missing from this line-up. We’re going to correct that right now.

Today we’re exploring Navarra in the northern part of the country. The region runs from the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains and over to the Ebro river, just across from Rioja.

Navarra has largely been overshadowed by its neighbor, but it is definitely worth getting to know. The region has been recognized in the past for its rosés–or rosados in Spanish–which are still really tasty! However, the region began to up plantings of Tempranillo and international varieties like Cab and Merlot in the 1980s. You’ll also find some excellent Grenache. It was the driver behind all that great rosado in the past, but now the some of those vines (or those that remain) are all grown up and producing some excellent old vine Garnacha.

Winemaking here goes way back as well. Catholics would pass through the area while making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, where it’s said that the remains of St. James the Apostle are buried. These travelers wanted wine. Demand was so high that in the 14th century, restrictions had to be placed on the number of vineyards popping up to ensure that there was enough farmland to grow grains for food.

They got another brief boom in the 19th century when French winemakers hit by phylloxera came down to Navarra (much as in Rioja) looking for wine. The boom busted pretty quickly, however, when the louse wreaked havoc through the vineyards here as well. Luckily, by then phylloxera-resistant rootstocks had been discovered and vines were replanted.

To top all this history off with a literary cherry on top, Hemingway also set the drama of The Sun Also Rises here in Navarra. 


The 2009 Señorío de Ozatzu was sent as a sample for participation in this month's Wine Pairing Weekend event.

Today’s wine is the 2009 Señorío de Otazu from Bodega Otazu (sample.) This is a Vino de Pago from the Pago de Otazu. This might be a bit confusing, but Pagos are basically single estates that are recognized for their quality that fall outside Spain’s normal DO classification system–this can be because they fall outside the delimited vineyard area, or because they're stylistically different from the DO regulations but still have a quality track record. There are currently 14 total in Spain. 

Navarra also gives its name to Navarra DO (created in 1933) that covers the entire southern half of the municipal region –almost everything running from just south of Pamplona, the region’s capital. Bodega Otazu is located 8 km west of Pamplona. (I’m not certain, but I think this puts it slightly outside the delimited area of the region.) The winery’s origins date back to 1840. They make wines from Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Merlot. 

The Señorío de Otazu is a blend of Cab, Merlot, and Tempranillo. On the day we opened it, Greg and I got notes on the nose of cherry, red plum, kirsch, and a dusting of exotic spice, with hints of red and white pepper. Greg also commented on a bit of dustiness–like on a library bookshelf.

On the palate, there was a bit of soft leather, tobacco, and dusty warm earth.  The same spiced fruits came back on the palate–warm, like just before they’ve been cooked. There was also something just a little bit wild and animal. The acid was medium, alcohol was medium +, tannin was medium +, and the body was riding the line right between medium and medium +.  Overall the wine was fairly straightforward, but with that little wild note.

The wine seemed to want something kind of direct and similarly straightforward to match it. We pretty quickly landed on steak. I decided on skirt steak with peppers and onions that could quickly and easily be broiled to get a little bit smoky char to match the smoke in the wine. Some zucchini was hanging out in the fridge that needed using up, so I threw that in too.

I marinated the steaks in a mix of spices and Worcestershire sauce to bring out those exotic spices in the wines. I also had some romesco sauce I’d made stashed in the freezer. Romesco originated just a little bit further south in Spain, but I thought the nutty, sweetly smoky spice of the sauce would be a good match.

It was indeed! The spice and char all came right out to meet the wine just as planned.

Note: The 2009 Señorío de Otazu was sent as a sample for participation in this month's Wine Pairing Weekend event. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own. I received two other bottles as well that I look forward to trying and sharing in the future.


Just a few details taken from the tech sheet. There wasn’t too much, but here it is:

Winemaker:  José Luis Ruiz  (We must be cousins ;-) )
Bottles Produced:  19600 Per Year
Composition:  Cabernet Sauvignon 85%, Merlot 10% and Tempranillo 5%
Winemaking:  A blend of the best grapes from Otazu vineyards. Individual manual
harvesting of each grape variety and plot. Cold maceration for one week before fermentation at 28 degrees C. Aged in new French oak barrels for 17 months.


has the average price on this bottle at $18 (with varying price for other vintages) and I’d say that’s pretty solid and fair. Good House Wine.



We considered other simple, tasty, meaty things for this dish as well. Burgers, sausages–anything with a little char on it.

If you’re looking for another wine to match, pick a red with decent tannins and body to stand up to the steak, and bit of smoky note to go with the spices and the romesco sauce.


Broiled Skirt Steak and Vegetables with Romesco Sauce

Prep time: 10, plus at least 1 hour to marinate
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 4



1 ½ to 2 pounds skirt steak
¼ to ½ tsp ground cumin
⅛ tsp spicy paprika
⅛ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 medium onions, sliced
3 bell peppers, sliced  (I used a mix of colors)
3 Zucchini, sliced (optional)
4-6 garlic cloves, sliced
Olive oil
Romesco Sauce (I'd previously made some, but you can also buy it.)



1.  Sprinkle the steaks with cumin, spicy paprika, and salt and rub the spices well into the steak. Places the steaks in a bowl or a ziplock bag and sprinkle the Worcestershire sauce on top. Allow the steak to marinate for at least an hour.

2.  Lightly grease a large roasting pan with a bit of olive oil. Arrange the sliced onions and peppers on the bottom of a roasting pan with a rack. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper and toss. Drizzle with more olive oil if needed and toss again. Place the rack on top and arrange the skirt steak on the rack. (If you don’t have a rack, place the skirt steak on the vegetables themselves.)

3. Arrange the zucchini (if using) on a separate baking sheet and toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil as well.

Note: You could put all vegetables on the same roasting pan if the baking sheet is big enough, but you want to make sure not to crowd the pan.

4. Set the oven’s broiler setting to high and place the pan with the steak on the rack directly beneath it. Place the baking sheet with the zucchini on the low rack. Cook the steak for 4 to 7 minutes per side, or until the steaks reach a few degrees below your ideal cooking temperature. (Aim for 125°F to 130°F for medium-rare. The steak will raise to final temperature of 130° to 135° F while resting.)

5. Remove the steaks from the oven. Tent and set aside to rest. Toss the vegetables and distribute the garlic between the vegetables. Switch the oven to baking setting and set to 400°F. Continue cooking the vegetables for another 5 to 10 minutes until fully cooked through. Remove from oven.

Tip: For a little bit of extra richness, drizzle the steak with a bit more olive oil or a small pat of butter while they rest.

6. Portion or slice the steaks and serve with romesco sauce and vegetables.

Photo credit on all photos: Greg Hudson


Join the rest of the Wine Pairing Weekend crew in exploring the wines of Navarra and explore more food ideas here and in these posts: 

For those of you who happen to live in the Bay Area, I teach a fun class on Tapas & Spanish Wines in Walnut Creek. The next class is coming up this June, 14. Find out more information here.  

Plus here are a few more 8 & 20's I paired with Spanish Wines:

Roasted Chicken Thighs With Broccoli

Smoky Paprika Shrimp With Saffron-Lemon Pilaf
Monkfish With Warm Chickpea Salad
Teriyaki Chicken Skewers with Edamame
Saucy Cheesesteak Sandwiches
Harissa Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olive Couscous

Saffron-Tomato Chicken Croquetas
Roasted Stuffed Fish with Sautéed Spinach

Thank you to our sponsors: 

Bodega Otazu on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram

Navarra Wines on the web, on Twitter, on Instagram

Additional sources used for this post:

The Oxford Companion via
Vinos D.O. Navarra
Decanter – Regional Profile: Navarra, Spain




  1. I am definitely just starting to learn more about Spanish wines. Very impressed with what I've had so far though.

  2. I think you're spot-on with your observations of the "wild and animal" notes in many Spanish wines. It's one reason I absolutely love them! Your skirt steak sounds great, and I dig that you added a little Romesco to the dish. ¡Viva España!

  3. I also had the 2009 Señorio de Otazu, with similar tasting notes. I made a pork dish and it was okay with the wine but I can imagine that the steak with Romesco was spot on. I had two other Navarra wines and they were all food friendly.

    1. Sorry the pork wasn't ideal, however, your other two pairings looked delicious!

  4. Your marinade sounds heavenly. I don’t believe I’ve broiled a flank steak before - but a great alternative to standing at the grill in this winter of a spring we are having. I think I need a little Spanish sunshine!

    1. I'm so sorry the spring has been so rough! Hopefully warm weather is ahead.

  5. Mmm, this sounds like a great steak recipe for this wine! good background on the region, too.

  6. Interesting to learn about the pagos. Of course I relate everything to Italian wine and we know there are definitely some quality IGT wines that just don't qualify under the DOC and DOCG.


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!