I consider it my duty to nudge you towards wines you might not have tried and wine regions you may have overlooked. And so I’m nudging you towards Navarra, a winemaking region in the north of Spain.
It’s raising its profile on these shores; and quite rightly too.
In the UK we can buy so many wines from across the world and that makes it a challenge for any region to make inroads into influencing our wine-buying habits.
Navarra is making those inroads.
I spoke to Javier Santafé, manager of the wine region’s regulatory council, (El Consejo Regulador) to discover more about its delicious red, white and rosado wines.
What is it, I asked, that gives Navarra wines a little “something extra”?
“Freshness,” he says, without hesitation.
“We’re in the north, north of Spain with so many climates and soils.
“That gives us a lot of acidity in our wines and that means freshness.”
Navarra is close to the Bay of Biscay, the Pyrenees, and the valley of the River Ebro.
These climatic factors influence the grapes’ flavours, which are harnessed by winemakers to develop styles being hailed for their quality.
One is the lushly-pink rosado. The wines are much deeper in colour than Provence-style pale rosés.
Javier is a terrific ambassador for the Navarra rosé style.
He says: “Our rosado wines are powerful in taste.
“They are what we call a gastronomic rosado – they can be sipped with paella, risotto, fish, or white meat.
“We’re convinced this pale Provence style is a fashion.
“We want to keep our identity and our producers will continue making rosado our way.”
A rosado has good staying power on the palate and on the memory.
Navarra is making some delicious chardonnay wines.
They can be, says Javier, in a style similar to Sonoma wines from California.
The wines can be ripe with tropical fruits and once again that freshness prevails.
The grapes grow in the sun, but at altitude.
That combination encourages the grapes to develop stone fruit and tropical flavours and the altitude helps the grapes retain acidity. That creates a fresh wine.
A Navarra chardonnay can be a lovely thing.
As for reds, well garnacha is embraced by winemakers.
Wines from tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon are produced too.
What of the future? Well it’s not old-fashioned overly-oaked jammy reds, that’s for sure.
Javier explains: “We want distinctive wines but want to keep it simple.”
A white to try:
Castillo de Monjardin Chardonnay, 2020 (£9.95, online at tanners-wines.co.uk)
This unoaked chardonnay is fresh, vibrant and tropical. The wine is typical of the styles which Navarra winemakers are producing. Chardonnay grapes grow at altitude in vineyards in the Pyrenees.
A rosado to try:
Señorio de Sarrίa Rosado, Navarra 2021 (RRP £7.25, The Wine Society)
This is a bargain, and there’s no holding back on the lush fruit flavours. It’s a deep-pink rosado from Navarra, using the garnacha grape. The wine has ripe raspberry notes.
A red to try:
El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa Garnacha 2018 (£10.99, Majestic)
I can get a little giddy when I read the words “old vines” on a wine label.
Old vines produce grapes concentrated in flavour. Here there’s red fruits and plums and not forgetting delightful freshness.
Discover more about wines from Navarra on social media #navarrawine @VinosNavarra or online at www.navarrawine.com
First published online at lep.co.uk: What is wine from Navarra in Spain like … we ask the questions and find three wines for you to try