Navarra wine

by Neil Morris

fuente del vino

The Navarra Denominación is one of Spains most exciting regions. Situated between Rioja in the south and the French border to the northeast, the region boasts the most diverse landscape in Spain; from the foothills of the Pyrenees in the north, to the lush banks of the river Ebro in the south, the vista is ever-changing.

Located between Rioja and Bordeaux, there is an inevitable influence from these illustrious neighbours but the wine of Navarra retains it own individual style and it's wine makers have shown that they have the talent to innovate as well as imitate. The Navarra DO is divided into 5 regions, each producing wines with unique qualities from their varied climates and soils.

Baja Montana is a mountainous region with deep valleys, thick beech and spruce forests, and quiet towns filled with idyllic stone farmhouses and extensive pasture lands with grazing cattle and sheep. Large reservoirs provide for endless water sports fun and the sub-region has incredible monasteries and museums to visit. Lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the northeast of the Navarra DO, it is the coolest of Navarra's regions with the soaring Pyrenees providing protection from extreme heat and drought. Crisp, abundantly fruity rosé and red wines are the main focus here. The Baja Montana region has the highest percentage of old Grenache vines. The terrain has gravelly soils containing high levels of lime and calcium.

otazu

Tierra Estella is a region of beautifully preserved fortresses, castles and noble houses from the Middle Ages spanning out from the culture-rich town of Estella. Each year an ancient music festival in Estella pays homage to Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music. This hilly area in the northwest of Navarra is slightly warmer than Baja Montana. The Pyrenees that lie northeast give a cooling relief from the heat. Tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon and merlot grown here produce deliciously flavorful rosé wines and fruity, easy-drinking reds. This region is also the main area for chardonnay. Its soils vary within the sub-region itself - in the north, they are mostly marine-based calcareous, and in the south - brown calcareous of non-consolidated material.

Valdizarbe is the ancient center on the pilgrimage tour to Santiago (Santiago de Compostela). Vineyards flourished here to satisfy these thirsty travelers and monasteries, built by monks who discovered the beauty of the region while making their pilgrimage, dot the route. It is the most northerly of Navarra's regions, lying between Baja Montana and Tierra Estella. It is the smallest in terms of wine production, with 6% of the region's total. Soils are chalky, and the climate benefits from the cooling effects of the Pyrenees that spread across the northern boundaries of the Navarra D.O.

Ribera Alta is warmer than the three northern regions above it and dotted with cozy villages, castles and monasteries. It lies in central Navarra, extending south towards Ribera Baja. With streets laid out in Medieval Times and a grand Royal Palace, the town of Olite is home to the Festival of Classical Theatre celebrated each year in open-air stages with an awe-inspiring castle as their backdrop. It is also home to Spain's most advanced viticultural and enological-based research center (EVENA). Locals and visitors alike are treated to deliciously fruity rosé and red wines made with tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Soils are sandy with substantial outcroppings of limestone. It experiences weather influences from the Mediterranean that do not extend as far south as the Ribera Baja region. .

Ribera Baja is the most southern of the regions and nirvana for those loving powerfully dense red wines and sweet wines from muscat (a small berry). Bathed in sunshine with rich, fertile land, the region provides all of Navarra with an over abundance of fresh produce - from delicacies such as white asparagus, to piquillo peppers, and artichoke. While it may be warmer, drier and flatter here, it is still perfect grape growing territory, with a Mediterranean climate. It has the largest area planted to grape vines in Navarra and is home to the greatest number of bodegas in the Navarra DO. The Ebro River runs northeast from Rioja into the region.

As well as the Navarra DO the region also produces wine under the Rioja DO and also has a small amount of sparkling wine produced under the Cava DO.

Navarra also boasts three estates that have been granted the exclusive Denominación de Origen de Pago (DO de Pago) status. One of these estates - Bodegas Irache - has a wine fountain on one of the walls facing the Pilgrims Way to Santiago de Compostela. This is so that pilgrims can serve themselves a free glass of wine to help them on their journey; the Pilgrims way is fortunate as it passes through some renowned wine regions. The fountain has been visited by people from all over the world and pilgrims can get a wine fountain stamp on their credentials at the offices or museum of the Bodega.

The Fountain of Irache was built in 1991 from cut stone and bears two quotes for visiting pilgrims:

"We are pleased to invite you to drink in moderation. If you wish to take the wine with you, you will have to buy it."

"Pilgrim, if you wish to arrive at Santiago full of strength and vitality, have a drink of this great wine and make a toast to happiness."

Denominaciónes de Origen

monterrei-do
rioja
navarra-cava

Denominaciones de Origen de Pago

arinzano
irache
navarra-otazu-logo

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