A white grape variety of Burgundian origin introduced to D.O. Navarra in the 1980s. In scarcely two decades it has become the dominant white variety in the region and the identifying mark of Navarra whites. It accounts for almost 3% of the vineyard surface area, with more than 500 hectares planted in the Ribera Alta, Ribera Baja, Valdizarbe and Tierra Estella subzones.
A grape of great character and changeability, used to make wines with good acidity and weight, with fruit aromas generally reminiscent of citrus, tree fruit (pear and apple), and, occasionally, tropical fruit, in addition to herbal, honey, and, occasionally, nutty aromas.
Typically produced as a monovarietal; suitable for vibrant, youthful, unoaked wine styles, as well as for rich, barrel-fermented styles intended for long aging.
Native to Aragon, present in both Mediterranean Spain and in the South of France, Garnacha Blanca has a tiny presence in Navarra, though plantings are on the rise. Best grown in warmer areas.
Wines made with Garnacha Blanca are typically high in alcohol (owing to their high sugar content), with low-to-moderate acidity and unusual aromas tending toward honey, white flowers, and hazelnuts. Often used as part of a blend or to make natural, sweet wines.
A variety with a long tradition in Spain, particularly in the regions of Navarra and La Rioja. Variously known as “blanca roja,” “blanquirroja,” “tobia,” “suavidad,” “suvirat,” and “rojal,” Malvasía has a miniscule presence in Navarra, with scarcely twenty hectares under vine, concentrated in the Validzarbe sub-zone.
Typically used to make young, aromatic wines, either as a monovarietal or as part of a blend.
Moscatel de grano menudo (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains)
A white variety likely native to the Near East and popular as far back as Roman antiquity, the small-berried Moscatel de Grano Menudo has been cultivated in Navarra for centuries but underwent a revival in Navarra in the 1980s, thanks to the emergence of a new style of sweet wine: a fresh and lively Vino Dulce de Moscatel that was promoted by Navarra’a Viticultural and Oenological Research Lab (EVENA) and that, according to one prominent American observer, two pioneering wineries, Chivite and Ochoa, “refined into an art form.”
At present this variety accounts for almost 1% of the total D.O. surface area and almost 20% of the white varieties grown, being present in most subzones but most prominently in the Ribera Baja.
Typically used to make monovarietal sweet or semi-sweet wines; occasionally used in dry blends (with Chardonnay or Viura). Expect aromas of ripe melon, tropical fruit and white flowers, with a knife of unripe pineapple tartness slicing through the wine’s honey-like sweetness, creating a balance of flavors suitable for dishes both savory and sweet.
A white variety of French origin, grown historically in Bordeaux and in the Central Vineyards of Loire (Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé), Sauvignon Blanc
is one of the most important white grape varieties planted in the world today. It became a D.O. Navarra-authorized variety in 2008, with plantings barely exceeding the experimental stage.
Used for both young and barrel fermented wines. Prized for its high acidity and aromatic intensity, which depending on its location, can evoke citrus, tropical or gooseberry fruit; often exhibits tell-tale grassy or herbaceous aromas.
A white variety of Spanish origin–widely planted in La Mancha, La Rioja, and Catalunya, where it is known as Macabeo–Viura has been popular in Navarra since antiquity, although its popularity decreased considerably with the introduction of new French varieties in the 1980s. Currently accounts for around 2% of total D.O. plantings, principally in the Ribera Alta and the Ribera Baja.
Viura is typically made into easy-drinking wines intended for quick consumption, though a small number of Navarra winemakers are experimenting with small yields and careful vinification to create higher quality Viuras and Viura blends.
This red grape variety of French origin is unquestionably the most ‘international’ winemaking grape variety, currently found in just about every wine-producing country in the world.
Approved by D.O. Navarre in the 1980s, Cabernt Sauvignon now accounts for some 15% of the total D.O. surface area, some 2,700 hectares. Although present in all sub-zones, it is most widely grown in the Ribera Alta and Tierra Estella.
Prized for its phenolics–the buidling blocks of a wine’s color, body, and tannic structure–and also for its acidity, Cabernet Sauvignon has all the makings of a wine destined to age. Wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon are typically barrel aged and often blends.
On a European map of Vitis Vinifera’s greatest red wine cultivars, Garnacha Tinta has, historically speaking, shone brightest in France’s Southern Rhone Valley, where the variety is known as Grenache. But in fact the grape is indigenous to Spain, where it also known as “Garnacho tinto”, “tinto aragonés”, “alicante”, “navarra” and “garnatxa” and where, over the course of the last century, it was the most widely-planted variety.
In the 1970s, Garnacha accounted for almost 90% of vineyards in D.O. Navarra, gradually losing considerable ground to newer varieties in subsequent years. Today, it accounts for 25% of Navarra’s vineyards, with some 4,700 hectares, the second most-planted variety in terms of the planted surface area. Although it is grown in all sub-zones, it is predominant in the Baja Montaña and the Ribera Baja.
For years, Garnacha suffered under the misconception of being prone to oxidation, incable of making long-lasting wines. Fortunately its potential for quality and agability today is well known, and in the past few years, a consensus has emerged among many top Spanish winemakers that the country’s ancient Garnacha vineyards–concentrated in Northeast Spain, along a topographically variegated, Mediterranean-influenced corridor that runs, west-to-east, from La Rioja to Catalunya–are a national treasure capable of world-class greatness, worthy of protection from overzealous replanting by other varieties.
This variety produces medium-bodied, highly aromatic reds with good alcohol and acidity levels, as well as exceptional saignée-method rosados, for which Navarra has long been justifiably celebrated. A new generation of winemakers in Navarra has been reclaiming and rehabilitating old Garnacha vineyards, making wines with extraordinary concentration of flavor, remarkable complexity and explosive minerality.
A red variety, originating in La Rioja and Navarra, now generating fresh interest among producers of quality wines throughout Spain.
Despite its excellent blending qualities, few vineyards in Spain actually grow it (0.02%), with 23.4% concentrated in La Rioja and 31.4% in Navarra. Graciano has a long history in Navarra, even if it has always occupied a tiny surface area, today accounting for just over 1% of vineyards and 250 hectares, found principally in the Ribera Alta and Ribera Baja sub-zones.
Graciano wines are noted for their intense color, high acidity and full body. Typically blended with other varieties; in exceptional years occasionally made into monovarietal wines of great character.
A red variety of French origin and Cabernet Sauvignon’s chief counterpart in the classic Bordeaux blend, Merlot was introduced officially to the Nvarra D.O. in the mid-1980s and now accounts for 13% of vineyards, with 2,400 hectares under vine–the 4th most important variety in the region. Though present throughout the D.O, Merlot is most prominent in Ribera Alta and Ribera Baja.
Merlot offers intense, high quality red-fruit aromas. Its wines have good weight and acidity, and often balance softness of fruit with a firm tannic structure. Often combined with Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon to create Navarra’s ‘calling-card’ red blend. On a much smaller, more premium scale, wines made from 100% Merlot are showing particular distinction as the region matures.
A red variety native to Navarra and La Rioja–known variously in Spain as “Mazuela”, “Cariñena” or “Carignan”–Mazuelo accounts for a little over 100 hectares of Navarra’s land under vine, or about 1% of the D.O. vineyards, concentrated primarily in Ribera Baja.
It produces fruity, medium-bodied, light-colored wines with high acidity. Typically employed in blends to add freshness (acidity).
A red wine variety of Burgundian origin prized for its finesse (and cursed for its suceptibility in the vineyard), Pinot Noir became an authorised D.O. Navarra grape variety in 2008. Though grown on just a few experimental vineyards, Pinot Noir, accoding to some observers, is in many ways perfectly suited to the cooler pockets of the region, particulalry those found in Valdizarbe and Tierra Estella, with their more ‘northern’ character.
Pinot Noir wines are delicate, light-bodied, light-colored–with good acidity and aromatics that tend toward red fruit and earthy/woodsy notes.
A red wine variety, thought to have originated from the Near East, with deep historical ties to France’s northern Rhône Valley. Authorized by D.O. Navarra in 2008.
Wines made with Syrah are noted for their intense color, their brooding dark fruit, their tell-tale black pepper spice and occasional meaty/smoky aromas. Made as a monovarietal or as part of a red blend, often as a complement to Garnacha.
A red variety of Spanish origin, Tempranillo means “little early one,” so-named for its early ripening properties.Over the last few decades it has become the leading Spanish red wine variety, known variously throughout Spain as Tinto Fino, Tinta del País, Valdepeñas, Cencibel, Ull de Llebre, and Aragonés.
Although this variety has a long-standing presence in Navarra, it has gained popularity only over the last two decades, and is now the leading red variety of the D.O. with 6,800 hectares under vine, accounting for 37% of the total surface area. Though present throughout troughout the region, Tempanillo is most prominent in Ribera Alta, Ribera Baja and Tierra Estella.
Tempranillo wines can be light to opaque in color, medium- to full-bodied, with moderate acidity and aromas reminiscent of blackberries, liquorice. They are used for young, typically monovarietal wines and particularly lend themselves to barrel aging, where they are normally blended with other varieties. Over time Tempranillo can acquire a new set of tertiary aromas–vanilla, tobacco, leather, chocolate–depending on its quality, the composition of the final blend, the origin of the oak barrel (American, French, Slovenian, etc.) in which it was aged, and it has spent in that barrel and, subsequently in bottle, before release.