All varieties of wine grapes belong to the species Vitis vinifera, also referred to as the European grapevine. To understand its diversity, consider the variety of an animal as familiar to us as the dog: all dogs belong to the species Canis familiaris, but there are a vast number of breeds that differ substantially in size and appearance (chihuahuas, mastiffs, labradors, etc.). In the same way, Grenache, Tempranillo, Chardonnay, Viura and so forth are nothing more than different “breeds,” which we call varieties. There are no good or bad varieties, but there are varieties that are better – or worse – suited to the terrain and climate where they are grown. That is to say, to obtain the best grapes from each plot of land, the terrain must be planted with a variety of grape that is well suited to it. Although in Navarra the red varieties tend to dominate, we also grow whites of great interest. We will briefly describe the most important ones below.
This is regarded as the great ambassador of Spanish wines. In Navarra, it plays a major part in the wine industry, making up over 35% of grapes planted. It is the basis of some extraordinary aged wines, but is also used to develop great young wines.
An Ebro Valley native, Grenache is a well-loved grape. It is resistant to pests and was planted in great quantities after the phylloxera epidemic in Europe in 1900. It has gone from composing 90% of the total production at its peak in the 1970s and 1980s to 23% today. It is used in the famous Navarra rosés as well as young red wines. Nowadays, large red icon wines (vinos de autor) come from this grape.
Originally a Bordeaux variety, this grape creates powerful and tannic wines that require a long period of aging to tame its strong tannins. Our vineyards grow 16% of this variety. It is generally used along with Tempranillo and Merlot to give rise to the most prestigious wines of the Navarra D.O. (Denominación de Origen, or designation of origin).
Another variety with Bordeaux origins, Merlot adapted well to our soils and microclimates. In general, it is less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon, softer and less acidic, and therefore can be used to produce anything from round young wines to select reserva wines. It makes up 14% of the total grape production.
Also of peninsular origin, this is a minority variety (less than 2% in the D.O. Navarra), but is nonetheless considered extremely interesting for its intense color and structure. In general, it forms part of the composition of multi-varietal aged wines, although it can also be used to create surprising mono-varietals.
Carignan, Pinot Noir and Syrah
These are the other authorized varieties that complete and enrich our red variety range.
An elegant variety that traveled from Burgundy to Navarra in the thirteenth century, it currently exceeds 4% of all our vineyard grapes. Especially when grown in cooler areas, Navarra Chardonnay provides the ideal frame upon which aromatic wines with distinction and character are built. It ages quite nobly, so the highest quality musts are fermented in oak barrels.
Moscatel de Grano Menudo
A very fragrant local variety with small golden berries, these grapes are used primarily to produce fragrant and sumptuous sweet wines, real “jewels” that you can’t miss an opportunity to try.
Viura, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia and White Grenache
These complete our white varieties, resulting in fresh and pleasant dry wines.