Azul y Garanza Naturaleza Salvaje Navarra Tinto with Basque Tomato Soup and Grilled Chicken (#WorldWineTravel)

Today we're taking a look at an organic and biodynamic Garnacha from Azul y Garanza in Navarra, an often-overlooked region in northern Spain. This delicious wine is paired with two Basque dishes - tomato soup and citrus-marinated chicken.

Greg and I were recently visiting his parents in San Diego, and I brought along a bottle of Azul y Garanza Naturaleza Salvaje Navarra Tinto I’d planned to explore for this post. I was looking for inspiration and asked my mother-in-law if she had any Spanish cookbooks in their EXTENSIVE library. I thought it was a simple question, but it set off a chain reaction that resulted in several new books on Spanish cuisines arriving at the house a couple of days later. This is of course is how the library becomes so extensive. It wasn’t my intention, but as a result, I got to play with lots of new cookbooks while at the house. It’s always so much fun to explore the cuisine and wine of a region together. 

In this case, we’re going to Navarra (or Navarre in English) in northern Spain and enjoying it with Basque cuisine. We’ve made several recent virtual trips to the Spanish Basque regions, first with Txakolina, and then with cider, but I didn’t look at them together with Basque cuisine, so I took the opportunity with this wonderful bottle of Garnacha paired with a couple of recipes adapted from Basque: Spanish Recipes from San Sebastian and Beyond by José Pizarro. (I think it was the compact edition.)


Let’s start with a glimpse of the region. In terms of wine, Navarra has largely been overshadowed by its neighbor, Rioja, but it is definitely worth getting to know. It has many fascinating aspects, of which you’ll get just a taste below. We’ve also looked at Navarra before, so for a bit more, check out Cooking to the Wine: Señorío de Otazu and Broiled Skirt Steak with Romesco Sauce.

Map borrowed from

5 Fact Navarra Cheat Sheet

  • More than just pink. This area has long been known for its rosés, rosado in Spanish, and up until the 1980s, those were the wines of note. However, since then their red and white wines have been gaining notice as well. This push forward was due in large part to the establishment of the Estación de Viticultura y Enología de Navarra (Navarra Viticulture and Oenological Research Station), which conducts research and training in viticulture and winemaking. 
  • Location, location: Navarra is located in the north-central part of the country, running from the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains and over to the Ebro river, just across from Rioja, just below France. Navarra DO (created in 1933) covers the entire southern half of the region–almost everything running from just south of Pamplona, the region’s capital.
    • Extra Credit: While we’re not getting into them today, the region has five distinct winemaking subzones: Ribera Baja, Ribera Alta, Tierra Estella, Valdizarbe, and Baja Montaña.
  • Super varied terrain and climate. There is a lot going on in a relatively small amount of space: the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean is about an hour to the northwest, the Pyrenees Mountains lie to the northeast, there are several other mountain ranges in the northern sub-zones, and the Bardenas Reales Desert and the Ebro Valley are both in the south. That’s a lot! It’s not surprising then that the region of Navarra also has a mixture of climates. You’ll find a mixture of Atlantic, Continental, and Mediterranean moving from north to south in the region as a whole.  
  • Garnacha and Tempranillo, plus lots of friends. Grenache has traditionally dominated plantings here, although the numbers have gone down in recent years. It now clocks in at about 24% of plantings. That said, you’ll still find some excellent old-vine Garnacha. (Like today’s wine!) Tempranillo has taken over first place, making up about 33% of plantings. You’ll find the whole international gang here as well, along with a few other traditional grapes. Here is the full breakdown of permitted varieties:
    • Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Negra, Graciano, Mazuelo (Carignan), Merlot, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Pinot Noir.
    • White: Chardonnay, Garnatxa Blanca, Malvasía, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Viura / Macabeo, and Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Pilgrims, bulls, Hemingway, the French,  and Game of Thrones - this region has it all! There is A LOT of interesting culture and history here. Here is a rapid-fire hit list:
    • The Camino de Santiago passes through here. Catholics would pass through the area while making the 400-mile 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 and it caused a boom in Middle Ages for the region’s wines. Demand was so high that in the 14th century, restrictions had to be placed on vineyard land to ensure that there was enough farmland to grow grains for food.
    • The famous Running of the Bulls (known locally as the Fiesta de San Fermin or simply Sanfermines), occurs every year in Pamplona between July 6 to 14.
    • That inspired Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, which portrays American and British expatriates traveling to Pamplona to partake in the festivities.  
    • Navarra was once the Kingdom of Navarre. In 1589, King Henry III of Navarre inherited the French throne as Henry IV of France, and in 1620 it was merged into the Kingdom of France. It remained under the control of the French crown until the 1800s. The French influence can still be seen in the cuisine and architecture.
    • The Bardenas Reales Desert served as the location of the Dothraki Sea in Game of Thrones in Season 6. If you’re planning to start a Khalasar, this is the place to do it. 

For additional details, see this excellent fact sheet by Navarra Wine US

The Wine: Azul y Garanza Naturaleza Salvaje Navarra Tinto 2019

I’ll admit it. It was this wine’s beautiful label that first grabbed my attention while I was searching for bottles at K&L in SF. However, when I stopped to do a little in-store research on my phone, I discovered that I’d already enjoyed wines from this producer before. Azul y Garanza makes entry-level wines in liters bottles, and I’ve both purchased and sold the red and the white many times before. They’re both super gulp-able and easy-drinking crowd-pleasers, perfect for taking on picnics and to BBQs. (The red also works well with a nice chill.) I’d never had their higher-end offerings and was excited to try one out.

Image borrowed from Azul y Garanza's website.

The Azul y Garanza’s has vineyards that begin in the lunar landscapes of Bardenas Reales Natural Park and in the Pre-Pyrenees. The winery’s founders Dani Sánchez, María Barrena, and Fernando Barrena aim to work with these landscapes as a whole, not just the vineyards. As such, they encourage as much biodiversity as possible, believing that all of the surrounding plants, as well as the animals and insects, have a part to play in the success of the grapes. They’ve planted native fruit trees and shrubs to increase the biodiversity of the ecosystem.

Growing anything here is no easy feat as the clay-calcareous soils are shallow and poor. There is only minimal water, since rain is irregular at best, and often nearly non-existent. There are also extreme diurnal shifts, with temperatures varying greatly between day and night. Under these conditions, it’s no surprise that yields are very small, and the grapes that do grow are small, intensely concentrated, and very powerful. The name for the bottle we’re looking at today seems incredibly appropriate as Naturaleza Salvaje means “wild nature.”

Keeping in the spirit of working with nature, the vineyards are worked completely organically (certified), without the use of pesticides, insecticides, or chemical fertilizers that might harm the soil or the ecosystem. Winemaking is likewise quite natural/low-intervention, using wild yeast fermentation, and using mostly concrete vats.

Image borrowed from Azul y Garanza's website.

Naturaleza Salvaje Navarra Tinto 2019 ($30 at K&L, 13% ABV) is 100% Garnacha and comes from vines just north of Bardena Reales. (So basically, this wine comes from the Dothraki Sea!) The average age of the vines is 40 years old, and grapes are hand-harvested, then fermented in concrete tanks, followed by six months aging in amphora and six months in neutral 300L barrels. Only minimal sulfur is used. (You can find additional details here and here.)

This wine basically tasted like the label looks. On the day we opened the wine I picked up notes of bright, black sour cherry, raspberry, mixed wildflowers, and herbs on the nose. It was quite effusive and we all agreed that those cherries were pretty much jumping out of the glass. On the palate, there were also notes of red licorice, red plum, and a touch of spice. It was medium-bodied and simultaneously richly flavored and refreshing, and very lively. The tannins were fine and smooth. (I think you could easily have this with salmon or richer seafood dishes without a problem.) 

Everyone at the table really enjoyed this wine! In different words, my FIL commented on how it tasted quite alive. It was just delightful.

The Pairings: Tomato Soup with Jamón &  Manchego and Griddleded Marinated Chicken Thighs with Pickled Shallots

I picked two different recipes from Basque: Spanish Recipes from San Sebastian and Beyond by José Pizarro to play with. The first was a tomato soup topped with grilled bread, jamón, and cheese. If you like pan con tomate, proportions are basically just flipped so that this is tomate con pan! I didn’t change much in the recipe other than that I decided to roast the garlic bulb whole rather than to split it into cloves as is done in the original. I just figured it would be much easier to squeeze out all the garlicky goodness at once, rather than fussing with individual cloves. I also decided to run the tomatoes through the food processor for a smoother texture than how it’s presented in the book. You can also absolutely keep this soup vegetarian if you prefer by using vegetable stock and omitting the jamón at the end.

I took more liberties with the second recipe to transform it from a pintxo, the Basque version of a tapa, to a main course dish. The original recipe called for quail, but the grocery store was out, so I just swapped in some chicken thighs – always a favorite with us! I think you can easily use whatever type of poultry pieces you’d like, you’ll just need to adjust the cooking time. To complete the transformation to a main course, I served the chicken on a bed of roasted, smashed potatoes and arugula, which got dressed nicely by the vinegar running off of the pickled shallots. Since the recipe called for a raspberry vinaigrette, I also added a few fresh raspberries to the plate for color and because I thought they might resonate nicely with the wine. (The recipe for the potatoes is not included here, but you can find it in this post, just omit the bacon and use olive or cooking oil.) This would be a great dish to make for company because you can prep everything the day before, and then just grill the chicken the day of.

How it All Worked

I had little doubt the wine would work with the tomato soup, and it absolutely did. The wine had a tangy quality that matched the tomatoes, and the richness of the jamón and cheese only enhanced the match. This dish brought out the wine’s more savory side.

I was less sure as to how the wine would work with the chicken dish, particularly because I was worried that the vinegar in the pickled shallots would flatten the wine as vinegar has a tendency to do. Not a problem. I know neither Greg nor I held back in our use of the shallots, but the wine held up just fine. I think that between the char on the chicken and the richness of the potatoes, there was enough other stuff going on that resonated with the wine to keep the vinegar from throwing things off. I also think the raspberries tied in nicely as well. They were ripe but tart, and worked with the fruit notes. Overall, this dish spoke to the wine’s fruity side and brought out hints of smoke. 

It was a very happy meal all around! 


soup, tomatoes
dinner, appetizer, lunch
Catalan, Spanish
Servings: 6
By: Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Tomato Soup with Jamón &  Manchego (or Idiazábal)

Tomato Soup with Jamón & Manchego (or Idiazábal)

Prep Time: 10 MinCooking Time: 1 H & 30 MTotal Time: 1 H & 40 M


  • 4 ½ lbs (2 kg) vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • Handful of thyme sprigs, plus a few extra for garnish
  • 1 liter (34 fl oz) stock (ham, chicken, or vegetable)
  • 6 slices of baguette
  • 6 slices of jamón (like jamón serrano)
  • Idiazábal or manchego cheese shaving (manchego used here)
  • Extra-virgin oil to drizzle
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 320°F/160°C.
  2. Halve tomatoes and place on two large baking sheets (or on sufficient sheets to keep the tomatoes in a single layer). Drizzle with lots of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Slice the top off of the garlic bulb and a piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then wrap up the foil. Place the tomatoes and garlic in the oven, rotating the trays halfway through cooking. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes until tomatoes are slightly caramelized. Once the tomatoes and garlic are cooked remove, them from the oven and keep them aside. (Note: This step can also be done ahead of time, and keep the tomatoes and/or garlic on hand for when you’re ready to make the soup. If you prefer a smoother texture to your soup, as shown here, pulse the tomatoes in a blender or food processor, or break them up with an immersion blender.)
  3. Drizzle olive oil in a large pot or deep pan and gently sauté the shallots for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the tomatoes to the pot and squeeze the garlic from the bulb and add in as well. Throw in a few sprigs of thyme and pour in the stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill the bread while the soup is simmering. Heat some oil in a frying pan then fry the baguette slices on both sides until golden and crisp. If the pieces are large, you can break them up, or small to medium rounds can be floated on top of the soup.
  5. Spoon the soup into bowls. Top with slices/pieces of baguette, a couple of slices of jamón, and some cheese shavings. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, garnish with additional sprigs of thyme and serve.
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @thesommstable on instagram and hashtag it #sommstable
dinner, main
catalan, spanish
Servings: 6
By: Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Griddled Marinated Chicken Thighs with Pickled Shallots

Griddled Marinated Chicken Thighs with Pickled Shallots

Prep Time: 15 MinCooking Time: 50 MinTotal Time: 1 H & 4 M
Adapted From Basque: Spanish Recipes from San Sebastian and Beyond by José Pizarro.We enjoyed generous helpings of the pickled shallots on our chicken, but this will still likely make more than you’ll need for one dinner. Use the rest to perk up salads, sandwiches, or to top just about any protein.


For the chicken:
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
For the pickled shallots:
  • 2 ½ oz (75 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 2 ½ oz (75 ml) raspberry vinegar (Note: if you don’t have raspberry vinegar, mash a few raspberries into white wine vinegar, allow it to infuse, and then strain them out. This is a good use for those berries that are a bit bruised or over-ripe.)
  • 2 oz (50 g) sugar (superfine/caster sugar is recommended, but regular works)
  • 4 large shallots, finely sliced
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
To serve (all optional):
  • Smashed or roasted potatoes 
  • Arugula
  • 3 to 5 raspberries per plate
  • Slivered almonds 


  1. Marinate the chicken. Mix the lemon juice with the diced shallot, garlic, thyme, a good amount of olive oil, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Place the chicken thighs in a large bowl or baking dish and pour the lemon mixture on top, making sure to coat well. Allow the chicken to marinate, ideally overnight or for several hours in the fridge.
  2. Make the pickled shallots. Heat the vinegars with the sugars, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot vinegar over the shallots, add a generous pour of extra virgin olive oil, and set aside.
  3. Cook the chicken. Heat a grill or grill pan. Once the pan is hot, remove the chicken from the marinade and grill for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once halfway through. The chicken is ready when an internal read thermometer reads 165°F. Set aside to rest. (Alternatively, you could sear the chicken in a pan and continue cooking them in a 400°F oven for about 35 minutes. This is a good option if you have limited cooking space or want/need to be able to walk away from the kitchen for a few minutes.)
  4. Serve. If using, place a few potatoes, a handful of arugula, slivered almonds, and few raspberries on each plate. Place a chicken thigh on top each, and add a spoonful of pickled shallots on each of the chicken thighs. The vinegar mixture will drizzle down to dress the arugula and raspberries.
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @thesommstable on instagram and hashtag it #sommstable


The rest of the World Wine Travel Blogging Group (#WorldWineTravel) is exploring Navarra this month, hosted by Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles. You can read about it in her Invitation Post.  Check out the rest of the group's posts for more wonderful wines and pairing ideas:

  • Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm shares Sazon Goya Grilled Chicken Thighs and an Old Vines Garnacha
  • Terri of Our Good Life shares Navarra's Local Red Wine Drink: The Kalimotxo #worldwinetravel
  • Martin of Enofylz Wine Blog shares 2016 Artazu Pasos de San Martín" Navarra + One Pan Spanish Chorizo & Shrimp
  • Nicole of Somm's Table shares Azul y Garanza Naturaleza Salvaje Navarra Tinto with Basque Tomato Soup and Grilled Chicken
  • Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares Virtual Navarra: Spicy Lamb Meatballs + Vina Zorzal Graciano 2018
  • Jeff from Food Wine Click shares Surprisingly Fresh in Navarra with Itxas Harri
  • Gwendolyn Alley from Wine Predator shares Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms with Navarra’s "Galimatias" Cuts Through The Rigmarole
  • Susannah from Avvinare shares Discover Navarra Rosados that Brighten your Day
  • Robin on Crushed Grape Chronicles shares Gardacho Garnacha from Navarra and Pochas Estofadas

  • Additional sources used for this post and extra reading:




    1. I love that this area was used for the Dothraki sea! What amazing landscape and not a place you would picture growing grapes.
      I can see why you were attracted to the label, it's gorgeous.
      Your pairings sound and look delicious. How fun to have new cookbooks to play with!

    2. I would totally buy that wine for the label...and that cookbook for the cover. Wow! I always learn so much from your posts. Thanks for sharing.

    3. I almost purchased the same wine from KL, but went with the Artazu San Martin, because it cost less and the Randall Grahm connection. Love the recipes you chose and glad the pairing turned out well Nicole!

      1. And I saw your bottle and nearly got that! More to try next time.


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