Blog Category: News

Navarra Wines: Spain’s secret weapon for summer delights

By Pablo Aguero,

by Dwight Casimere

Summer season’s most intriguing wines come from one of Spain’s undiscovered areas: Navarra. Located in the north of Spain just outside of Madrid, its provincial capital is Pamplona, made famous by the Ernest Hemingway novel “The Sun Also Rises” and the festival at the town of Los Sanfermines and the celebrated annual running of the bulls.

The sheer variety and complexity of the wines, not to mention the exceptional value, makes these wines perfect for summer and the wide variety of dishes to be served at garden parties, al fresco cafes, and barbecues. The wines are exceptional and selling at bargain prices. Get in on the fun or lose out once they catch on and prices start to skyrocket as in all things worthy!

Chicago’s Bernie’s Lunch and Supper rooftop deck in the restaurant mecca of River North was the setting for a lavish Grand Tasting of wines from a Baker’s Dozen of wineries from D.O. Navarra, Spain. The wines ran the gamut from crisp, fruity Chardonnays to robust Crianza’s.

Navarra is known as “the garden of Spain.” Made famous by its quality products and sheep’s milk cheeses, it is also praised for its superb vineyards, cultivated for more than 300 years since the arrival of monks during the Crusades of the Middle Ages. Multiple microclimates and a confluence of unique terroir produced vineyards that create an abundance of ‘international’ grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay as well as hearty and flavorful local varieties such as  Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache).

Winemakers from Navarra were at the rooftop lounge at Bernie’s Lunch and Supper in River North to present their wines. Among them were such historic vineyards as  Castilla de Monjardin. Tucked away in the foothills of the Pyrenees along France’s border, the winery was founded in 1988 by the Del Villar-Olano family. Winemaker Victor del Villar Olano was on hand to personally pour his selection of wines, ranging from his unoaked 2017 El Cerezo Chardonnay ($12.99) to 2014 Reserva Cabernet ($14.99) . The wines displayed exceptional character, particularly the 2017 La Cantera Garnacha Old Vines. This jammy, red wine displayed all of the bright fruit and balanced structure that belies its youth. With flavors of ripe red cherries and raspberries backed by a hint of spiciness, the wines are a perfect match for grilled meats and barbecue.  I defy you to find another red wine of such depth and complexity at this price.

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Navarra Puts A Twist On Tapas In Chicago – Beverage Media Group

By Pablo Aguero,



The Spanish wine region of Navarra is hosting a “Land of Diversity & Wine Styles” Grand Tasting in Chicago on May 8th at Bernie’s Lunch & Supper. In addition to a seminar on the diverse terroir and three climates found in Navarra winemakers from 13 wineries will be pouring at a walk-around tasting. Interestingly, Navarra USA is promoting the wines in part by teaming up with “The Pintxo Trail, Pamplona,” a culinary guidebook to the bitesize, not-exactly-tapas culinary jewels found in the region. Traditionally, a toothpick “pinches” the food, hence the name “pintxos,” and guests are charged based on the number of toothpicks left on the plate.

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By First,

Navarra Fields


Sulfur dioxide (whose chemical formula is SO2) is a preservative that has been used in wine for over 200 years. Its main function is to prevent the development of undesirable micro-organisms (such as those that make the wine turn to vinegar) and oxidize the odors. Once you add it to the wine, the sulfur produces some salts and sulfites. There are many foods that use it (mustards, sausages, vegetables), but it is often indicated by a number, for example, E-220, E-221, or E229. Although we’ve spent our whole lives using sulfur dioxide, as of November 2005 the European regulations require us to specify on a wine label that it “contains sulfites.” This is due to the fact that, although its use is limited and it is used in small concentrations, some people are allergic to this compound and must avoid it. In just the same way, “contains gluten” is mentioned on packaging to alert those with celiac disease.


These wines come from grapes grown on the principles of organic farming, that is, showing great respect for nature and conservation. Therefore, synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and herbicidal minerals are not permitted in the cultivation of the vines. There are also a number of limitations when producing the wine (such as using fewer sulfites), but basically, the winemaking is carried out similarly.

Organic wines have similar organoleptic properties as those of conventional wines (there isn’t a difference when tasting them), but working the vineyard like this puts special emphasis on sustainability and respect for the environment. More than 5% of Navarra vineyards benefit from this system of organic cultivation, which is particularly valued by European and U.S. markets.


Although rosé wines from the Navarra D.O. are produced only by the method of bleeding (discussed in its corresponding chapter), traditionally these wines have been called “Clear” or “clarets.” In fact, however, a claret wine is made by mixing white and red grapes or even coloring a white wine with a red – meaning that a rosé from Navarra will never fall into the category of claret. But tradition is tradition, and it is difficult to change the name to which people are accustomed.


You know that wine is created through the transformation of sugars into alcohol, and that yeast is responsible for this transformation. But where does yeast come from? Broadly speaking, the yeast may have three different origins:

a) Those which come from the field and are found in the waxy layer that covers the skin of the grapes.

b) The natural yeasts that are found throughout the winery and multiply spontaneously in the tank when we fill it with grapes.

c) Selected commercial yeast, which arrives freeze-dried and is added to the tank when the grapes arrive too cold or too ripe, or the winemakers seek any special transformation (for example, a wine with specific aromas).

Every winemaker has their own preferences, so there are those who obtain good results with the yeasts brought in by their grapes and which exist in their cellar, and also those who prefer to direct the fermentation by adding specifically selected yeasts to ensure a certain outcome.


Before, when a bottle had sediment (“dregs”), it was dismissed due to misunderstanding as poor quality, with the claim that it was chemical. However, the first thing to keep in mind is that sediment has a totally natural origin. We find two types:

a) The heavier sediment, which comes from salts in the wine. This is because the grapes have an acid, tartaric acid, which is very soluble, but they also have potassium, calcium and more. When grape seeds break during winemaking, all these components are put in contact, forming slightly soluble salts called bitartrate or tartar. Their appearance is crystalline, rather like grains of sugar on the bottom of the bottle, although if tested, they almost always have a sour taste.

b) The lighter sediment, looking somewhat like pasty, colored flakes. When a red wine is just made, the pigments and tannins are small, lightweight particles. Over time, they join up with each other and form long chains, which are heavier and fall to the bottom.

To prevent sediment from appearing, the wine can receive various treatments before being bottled (it can be stabilized, cooled, clarified, etc.). These processes are always done on simpler wines. The higher the quality of a wine, the less it is treated, because these treatments always entail some loss of body and aromatic complexity.

If you have a great wine that contains sediment, always decant it before serving. Although natural, sediment is not at all pleasant to drink.

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Navarra- Wines of Goodness and Excitement

By Pablo Aguero,

By Robin Kelley O’Connor 

A land of enchantment, unspoiled and pure, where the people, wine and cuisine are authentic and genuine. Spain is in the midst of a wine revolution. Navarra has taken this notion of ‘wine revolution’ with a fervor.



The natural resources run very deep in the Navarran ‘tierra’ with endless possibilities to produce wines that meet the needs of everyday consumption at everyday prices, yet satisfy those who are in search of the limited and rare.

This is my inaugural new year entry (blog) to expose, highlight, feature and reveal the true nature of some of Spain’s most exciting wines. I have had a love affair with Navarra beginning shortly after finishing my university studies. My love goes deep not only for the wonderful people of Navarra, the wines, the food but for the culture, the history, the ethos, the values, the traditions and the basic humanity.



My first venture into Navarra was to go directly to Pamplona for the July fiesta of San Fermin and the Running of the Bulls. It was on this very first visit that changed my world. I had found a magic that honestly was electrifying, broadened my horizons exponentially and gave me a spark that led me into a life-long study of the vine, one as a passionate consumer and the other as a dedicated professional to the enhancement and education of wine.


What was that spark? My very first glass of ‘Clarete’ as it was known colloquially, now universally called ‘Rosado’. It was the ‘Garnacha’ grape that bright out the magic in the glass: flavorful, easy, flowed deliciously down the palate and was so pleasing and gratifying in the hot July Spanish sun.



Robin Kelley O’Connor

A leading wine educator, international wine judge, wine writer, and sommelier, Robin Kelley O’Connor is a leading wine expert. His thirty years of experience, authority and passion enable captivating seminars, dinner events, and wine education and allows him to offer an unparalleled suite of services to corporations and individuals from around the world.

Robin serves as a guest wine instructor and examiner for the Intensive Sommelier Training program at the International Culinary Center. ICC is one of the leading culinary educational institutions in the U.S., with campuses in New York and Napa Valley. It is a world-class institution dedicated to the culinary arts and vinous education.



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Gracias Chicago! More Navarra Wine Lovers ~ Grand Tasting, May 8th, 2018

By April Cullom,

Cheers to Chicago!

Fantastic show of wine trade and media at the Chicago Grand Tasting of Spain’s best kept secret, Wines of Navarra.  Guests attended a seminar lead Brian Duncan who focused on the food pairing aspect of the range of wines.  The 13 producers shared their wines with local wine trade, media and consumers on May 8th at Bernie’s Lunch & Supper.  The tasting continued with an Escape to Navarra for Chicago wine lovers who had the opportunity to taste their way through Navarra and meet the people behind the wines.

Grand Tasting Chicago ~ Tuesday, May 8th, 2018, Bernie’s Lunch & Supper






Importers, these producers are seeking an importer:

Distributors, these producers are imported in the U.S. but not in Illinois:

Chicago Retailers & Restaurants, these producers have distribution in Illinois:



Invitation to Grand Tasting Chicago 2018

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Dallas Wine Chick: Wines that turned my head

By Pablo Aguero,

The Top 30 That Turned My Head in this Tasting

by Melanie Ofenloch, the Dallas Wine Chick

Wines of Navarra

I had the opportunity to taste several bottles from the Navarra Denominación de Origen (DO) of Spain, which is located right below France. The terroir is a series of valleys and mountains in Northern Spain. Navarra is known for its climatic diversity and microclimates. Once known for Garnacha-based Rosado, but with French varieties being introduced in 1980, the region now has a variety of wines including Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Here are my favorites that I tried and I have to note that the last two are under $10, which make them a great bargain:

2015 Principe de Viana Edicion Rosé – this was an easy drinking rosé with notes of cherry, strawberry, nectarine and citrus.

2015 Ochoa Calendas Bianco – a blend of 50% Chardonnay, 43% Viura, and 7% Moscatel de Grano Menudo. Notes of stone fruit, citrus, peaches, pears, flowers and minerality burst from the glass.

2014 Vega del Castillo Garnacha Cepas Viejas 2014 – Lots of black cherries, raspberries, violets, spice.


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Wine Searcher – Navarra Wines

By Pablo Aguero,

Navarra Wine

Navarra, in northern Spain, is one of the country’s 17 first-level administrative regions (Comunidades autónomas) and a reasonably prolific – if lesser-known – wine region. Traditionally associated with the production of crisp, fruit-driven rosé, Navarra is beginning to attract attention for its high-quality red wines made mainly from the TempranilloCabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot grape varieties after years of being overshadowed by its southern neighbor, Rioja.

The first records of winemaking in the region date back to ancient Roman times, but grapes were almost certainly thriving here long before that. Vines of the prehistoric Vitis sylvestris species – predecessor of the cherished Vitis vinifera – have recently been discovered still growing in Navarra. After the Romans, grape-growing continued under the Moors and was then greatly expanded under Christian rule. Demand for wine was strengthened by Catholics making the pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago to the shrine (now a cathedral) in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, where tradition has it that the remains of the Apostle St. James are buried.

The 14th Century was a boom time for Navarra and the number of vineyards multiplied to the extent that restrictions had to be imposed to ensure enough land was dedicated to cereals to feed the local population. Demand received an additional boost in the late 19th Century when France was hit by phylloxera. This rise in sales was short-lived, however, as Navarra subsequently fell prey to the blight, which left few vineyards intact there. Vignerons replanted using phylloxera-resistant rootstocks and subsequently were able to reorganize production zones.

Navarra has just a single DO title for its wines, the regional Navarra DO, which was created in 1933 and covers the entire southern half of the region (almost everything south of the administrative capital, Pamplona). Its workings are administered by its Consejo Regulador(wine authority), based in the small town of Olite.


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Thanksgiving with a Spanish Twist. Wines of Navarra.

By Pablo Aguero,

Thanksgiving with a Spanish Twist: Turkey, Lamb, and the Wines of Navarra, Spain.

by Lauren Walsh, theswirlingdervish

A friend recently asked my advice in planning a Friendsgiving dinner – she lives far from her hometown and has decided to invite other friends to share the day with her. She’s quite accomplished in the kitchen and has decided to prepare all the courses herself, with the exception of dessert. Good for her!

Years ago, I used to host Thanksgiving at my home, inviting a rag-tag group of friends, family members, neighbors, and friends-of-friends unable to go home for the holiday. The mix changed each year, depending on who was where, and it led to some interesting interactions. But that’s a whole other post . . . .


Navarra wines Lineup

Naturally I was flattered when she sought my help and, to be honest, I looked forward to the thought exercise. My husband and I are celebrating the holiday quietly this year and I’m sort of missing the pre-Thanksgiving festivities. Best of all, I can indulge in some creative culinary thinking without having to wash a single pot or pan.


The Wines

I recently received a selection of sample bottles from the Navarra Denominación de Origen (DO) of Spain, and I thought they would lend themselves perfectly to this Friendsgiving dinner. Best known for its fresh and fruity Rosado wines, Navarra is also a center of fine-wine production, making use of both indigenous and international varieties. Tempranillo, Graciano, and Muscat mingle with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in an intriguing array of wines that pair easily with holiday feasts. I took each of the six wines I received and matched it with a particular course or dish.


Hors d’Oeuvres and Light Bites

Understanding that my friend would be busy in the kitchen as her guests arrived, I suggested she set up a sideboard with easy appetizers. Charcuterie, a cheese or two, olives, and almonds are all you need there. People can chat with each other as they nibble, and enjoy a nice glass of wine.


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Historical 2017 Harvest

By April Cullom,

2017, Historical Harvest in Navarra

October 20th, 2017 marks the end of this year’s harvest in Navarra and with “excellent” results.  2017 vintage is considered historical because it was a very challenging year due to the freezing temperatures in late spring and lack of rain in the summer, which resulted in 60 million kilos of grapes (90% red, 10% white), only a 15% reduction based on the past 5 years. The grapes that make their “vendimia tardia” or Late Harvest wines such as the Moscatel Petit Grain were not included in these statistics given they are left on the vine until they reach appropriate ripening.

Despite the challenges from Mother Nature, the results turned out to be much more favorable than initially expected.  This is considered one of the most difficult years in Navarra’s history and many feared the freeze and drought would be disastrous, but fortunately, there were just a few isolated cases of freeze and it was only the summer drought that influenced the lower yields.

Yields by sub-zones break down as follows:

  • 44% Ribera Alta
  • 30% Ribera Baja
  • 13% Baja Montaña
  • 7% Tierra Estella
  • 6% Valdizarbe

Another point to make about this year’s harvest is that it started on August 16th, two weeks earlier than expected, and lasted two months which is typical for the region. Fortunately, the good weather in the final phase of harvest allowed for slower ripening, producing excellent quality grapes.  The other good news is that thanks to harvest starting two weeks ahead of schedule, consumers will be able to enjoy the white and rose wines earlier than anticipated.



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The Road Beyond Rosado

By Pablo Aguero,

Navarra’s journey to express itself

By Kristen Bieler, The Beverage Journal

Located right between Rioja and Bordeaux, DO Navarra benefits from a very special geographical situation in northern Spain, with vineyards stretching from the foothills of the Pyrenees to the high Ebro Valley. This veteran Spanish region, with official status dating back to the 1930s, has through the decades built a strong reputation based on distinctive rosés, made mainly with Grenache and applying the selective method of saignée.

Being in the shadow of Rioja, its famous neighbor doesn’t help. Navarra also has no single signature grape or style. The decision made decades ago to focus on dry, refreshing Rosado (rosé), proved wise economically, but hasn’t helped the region’s reputation as a source of serious red wines.

Yet there are signs that Navarra is changing course as a new generation of winemakers is making important quality-driven changes in vineyards and cellars. “Today’s winemakers are taking the lessons learned from their grandparents and combining them with innovation and a renewed respect for nature,” says David Palacios, President of D.O. Navarra, adding that women now make up half of the region’s winemakers and winery directors.

The Evolution Of Identity

“Every region in Spain has had to move away from massive blending and cheap wine production; when you think about what Navarra has achieved since the mid-20th century under Franco’s totalitarian regime, it’s magnificent,” said Gil Avital, Partner/Wine Director at Tertulia in NYC’s West Village, who was part of a panel that Beverage Media recently hosted to taste through a range of Navarra’s wines.

Because of its particular location, Navarra has a huge asset in vine growing: a mosaic of terroirs with varied climate conditions, explained panelist Robin Kelley O’Connor, sommelier/writer/wine judge, who knows the region intimately: “It’s rare to taste a wine and exclaim, ‘Oh, this is Navarra!’ which is partly a result of the geographic diversity. In cooler northern areas you see light, fresh reds with natural acidity, and in the south, it’s continental and hot and abuts a desert—the wines are bigger with more robust tannins.”


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Wine for Halloween

By Pablo Aguero,

Navarra Fields

Wine for Halloween Chocolate! Drink Away the Indian Summer With Romantic Graciano!

by Jim van Bergen – Uncorked

Summer didn’t linger, it stayed out late and curfew be damned. Night after night  it returned to rub our noses in the heat and humidity for more than a month past the Fall Equinox in the way that summer lovers can’t bear to leave each other’s side.

Más de Berceo Graciano 2015, Navarra, Spain. ABV 13.5%; SRP $9/bottle.

Color is medium purple with garnet center and a pale edge. The nose is rich with plum and boysenberry, clove and spice box with underlying heat; providing an exciting, aromatic adventure with reduced acids and round,  easy-going tannins. On the palate, the blend is gentler than one expects. This graciano demonstrates a softer, mature red and black fruit blend with  loam and clay, showing strong influence from the oaken cask it matured in.

A gentle yet full body with a tart and lingering stare, this is a wine that begs to be fed and enjoyed with food. Salty or sweet, your palate will reward you: fresh or dried fruit, cheese, fresh briny seafood, cured or roasted meats, all are choice compliments. Tapas? Of course! It also worked easily with a classic salad and Margherita pizza. My favorite pairing? Fig & olive crisps from Trader Joe’s with a chunk of triple-cream cambozola blue cheese on top.  But the one that might make you drop your costume in the foyer and dig into your lover’s trick-or-treats is the pairing of graciano and chocolate! Your tasty candy might be milk or dark, sea salted or caramel-laced. The graciano blend is a stunning complement for chocolate and candy that will have you pouring glass after glass for yourself and your loved one from the front hall candy bowl until you’re entrenched in the bedroom. At $9 a bottle, who’s to know or care how many bottles you enjoyed over Halloween? I won’t tell.



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TOP SHELF TAPAS – Wine Enthusiast Magazine

By Pablo Aguero,

Alta Estilo Tortilla Española


This elegant version of the tortilla Española features quail eggs and truffled potato purée. Plate normally, or try your hand at serving in an eggshell.

Tortilla de patatas

Photo by Noah Fecks

Adapted from Alex Múgica, executive chef, La Cocina de Alex Múgica, Pamplona, Spain

Although tortilla Española is delicious, the thick, frittata-like omelette is usually a homely affair, served by the slice on a plate or on a piece of baguette. This elegant version, which features oil-poached potatoes, quail egg and truffled potato purée, is a mainstay at La Cocina de Alex Múgica in Pamplona, Spain.

Chef Alex Múgica has won multiple awards at tapas and culinary competitions in Pamplona and the province of Navarra. His namesake restaurant is on Calle Estafeta, most famous as the route taken by the charging bulls and thousands of tourists each morning during the Feast of San Fermin.

Cracking Up
At the restaurant, the dish is served in an eggshell. To do this, use paring knife or scissors to cut off tops of 8 eggs. Pour out yolks and whites, and reserve for another use. Boil shells to sterilize. To add whimsy, arrange in cardboard egg carton to serve. It’s best enjoyed with small spoon to reach the bottom of shell so you combine tastes into one bite.


  • 2 medium starchy potatoes, like russet
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Arbequina from Navarra
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, warmed
  • 8 quail eggs
  • Maldon salt, to taste
  • 1 ounce potato chips, crushed
  • 8 thin slices black truffle, preferably fresh
  • 1 teaspoon truffle oil
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped

DirectionsCut 1 potato into ¼-inch dice. Warm olive oil in small pot. Poach potato for 5–7 minutes, not allowing oil to smoke or bubble. Drain potato on paper towels. Set aside.

Cut remaining potato into ½-inch dice. Bring large pot of well-salted water to boil. Add potato and cook approximately 20 minutes. Drain potato, reserving 1 ounce of cooking water. Place potato, melted butter, cream and cooking water in food processor. Process until smooth.

Bring shallow pot of water to boil. Add quail eggs one by one and cook until whites are set, about 1 minute. Transfer to paper towel, and pat dry.

Divide potato cubes between 8 small cups or sterilized eggshells, straining off excess oil. Layer in poached quail eggs, sprinkle of Maldon salt, crushed potato chips, truffle and potato purée. Add drops of truffle oil. Garnish with scallion.Serves 8.


Pair It

Múgica prefers a glass of Bodegas Ochoa’s Rosado de Lagrima, made from Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, alongside his stylistic version of Spanish omelette. “Rosé from Navarra offers a full mouthfeel and flavors of raspberry and strawberry that will hold up to the creaminess of the potato foam and richness of quail egg.”



About the Authors
Entertaining and Lifestyle Editors

Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen are Wine Enthusiast’s Entertaining and Lifestyle Editors. DeSimone tastes wine from Israel and the Mediterranean Basin, while Jenssen tastes wine from Eastern Europe, including the former the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Both co-authored Wines of California, Wines of the Southern Hemisphere, and The Fire Island Cookbook. Wine educators and presenters, both gentlemen serve as frequent guests on national and local television. Email:


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A Taste of Navarra #Wine; Spain’s Best Kept Secret

By Pablo Aguero,


Are you familiar with the Navarra wine region of Spain? I wasn’t, until I recently had an opportunity to sample a diverse selection of wines from the new to me region. I received six sample wines that included a diverse selection of traditional Spanish grape varieties – Tempranillo, and Garnacha (a.k.a. Grenache), and international varieties Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
About Navarra

Situated in Northern Spain, it’s vineyards can be found from the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains to the Ebro River Valley (which it shares with its illustrious neighbor and Spain’s most powerful wine brand – Rioja) between Madrid and San Sebastian.
There is an interesting confluence of three climates in Navarra (Atlantic, Continental and Mediterranean from north to south). The trio of climate types combined with a range of soils, altitude, sunshine and rainfall in an area that’s only 120 miles north-south and 60 miles east-west, allows the region to produce a diverse variety of styles of wines from many different grape varieties.


Image courtesy of Navarra Wine US
Image courtesy of Navarra Wine US


Winemaking in the region dates back to ancient Roman times, but grapes were almost certainly thriving here before that.  Prehistoric Vitis sylvestris species vines – predecessor of the cherished Vitis vinifera – have recently been discovered still growing in Navarra.

The 14th Century was a boom time for Navarra and the number of vineyards multiplied to the extent that land use restrictions had to be imposed to ensure farm land was dedicated to crops to feed the local population. Demand received an additional boost in the late 19th…


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Wine for normal people Podcast

By Pablo Aguero,

Wine for Normal People created a great Podcast about Wine. We especially like episode 189 but then again we might not be the most impartial about the topic. Ep 189: Navarra, Spain

You can read the article on her website:

Navarra is in northern Spain and although a prolific, historic region, it’s not well-known. Traditionally it’s been associated with making fruit-driven rosé, but its reds are starting to come on strong and it’s emerging as an excellent, high quality, high-value region.

Fast facts on Navarra:

  • Capital: Pamplona, home of the running of the bulls (Fiesta de San Fermin)! DO is south of the city
  • Vineyards are around the foothills of the Pyrenees to the Ebro River in Northern Spain
  • Navarra is part of the historic Basque country – but the Ebro River has the most impact on winemaking here (river valleys are essential to vine growing)

We review the storied history of Navarra:

  • From Romans to Moors to Catholics, we discuss the winemaking legacy
  • We talk about the importance of El Camino a Santiago de Compostela — a 400-mile walk to visit the remains of St. James (Santiago) in Galicia on the western coast
    • 12th c – wine recommended in a guide book to pilgrims
    • Reputation for wine formed through El Camino
  • We discuss the French influence from the 14th century through the 19th c – (1892) when Navarra wines were in high demand post-phylloxera
  • We talk about the modern efforts of the DO, and EVENA, the Estación de Viticulture y Enología de Navarra (Navarra Viticulture and Oenological Research Station), in the Ribera Alta sub-region and how that added legitimacy AND created some issues for Navarra. 


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World Wine Guys Get the Navarra Insider’s Experience

By April Cullom,

World Wine Guys discover Navarra’s long history of winemaking, culinary treasures and its premier annual festival “San Fermín”.

Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen, are wine, spirits, food, and travel writers, educators, and hosts. They are award winning journalists as well as best-selling and award-winning authors.  They are also sincere food and wine lovers of Spain and got the insider’s experience of Navarra during San Fermin, learning more about the region’s history and culture and meeting the people responsible for such wonderful wines and dishes.

During their visit, they were able to get a better idea of the diverse terroir the region has to offer by visiting the wineries in the various sub-zones.  Here’s what they have to say after their visit:

“Wine is King in Navarra!  Whether you enjoy a silky Tempranillo, a juicy Garnacha, or a crisp Chardonnay, Navarra has  a wine that will suit your palate.  This amazing region has a bottle to fit every budget with excellent price to quality ratio.”

Navarra’s long history of winemaking dates back to the Romans, which can be appreciated by visiting Villa Romana de las Musas (Arellano) Fast-forward to the 13th century and we find winemaking still plays quite a role, this time to supply wine for the Royal Court and the Monasteries during the reconquest.

Today, winemaking continues to be important, quite evident when visiting the medieval town of Olite just 30 minutes south of Pamplona, where the headquarters of the region (Denominación de Origen Navarra) is located and surrounded by vineyards.   Mike & Jeff had a chance to taste through the wines of Castillo de Eneriz, Bodegas Escudero, Bodegas Piedemonte, Quaderna Via, Bodegas Marco Real and Nekeas.

  • Bodegas Ochoa (Olite) – Ribera Alta
  • Camilo Castilla (Corella) – Ribera Baja
  • Bodega Asensio (Sesma) – Ribera Alta
  • Bodega Inurrieta (Falces) – Valdizarbe
  • Castillo de Monjardin (Villamayor de Monjardin) – Estella
  • Bodega Otazu (Echauri) – Estella

Of course, a visit to anywhere in Spain isn’t complete until having a long dinner and perhaps the most traditional way to enjoy the array of dishes is to sample an assortment of small plates (“raciones”) and pinchos (tapas).  Here are some recommendations for award-winning restaurants in Pamplona we visited:

Tasting Menus:

La Cocina de Alex Mújica –

Restaurante Enekorri –

Pinchos & Tapas:

Bar Fitero –

El Gaucho –


Bodegas Ochoa, Adriana & Beatriz Ochoa.

The Navarran cultural, history, food and wine experience aren’t over as we approach the festivities of the famous San Fermin, one of the patron saints of Pamplona (the other official saint is Javier).  On the 6th of July at 12 PM on the Town Square thousands of people gather for “Chupinazo”, the official “kick-off” of the week-long celebration of San Fermin, this is when all of Pamplona gets dressed in white and puts on their red “pañuelo at 12 PM when the rocket goes off announcing the beginning of San Fermin.

On the 7th, the first “encierro” takes place at 8AM when the rocket blasts and the bulls run from the corral to the bullring through the streets of Pamplona. If you’re not a runner, the best idea is to get a view from a balcony as we did.

After watching thousands of people run in front of bulls and steers it’s time for the traditional “Baile de Alpargatas” at the Casino de Pamplona where you can watch families of all ages dance and refuel on the much needed “chocolates con churros”.

After dancing (8:30 AM – 9:30) it’s time for brunch “almuerzo” and one the best places to really experience a Pamplona tradition is by getting invited by a member of a “sociedad gastronomica” a private culinary club and lucky for us David Palacios, President of D.O. Navarra got us an invitation to enjoy a typical meal of ham, eggs, and potatoes at Napardi, and of course enjoy more wine from Navarra.   Just as we were finishing up our meal we ran outside to watch the parade of “Gigantes & Cabezudos” and get a close-up view of the throne of San Fermin giving his blessing, a family favorite.



Bodega Otazú – artistic expression. Amazing collection of art and a “cathedral” for their artisanal wines.

Afterward, we continue the celebrations at El Caballo Blanco to join the international group of generations of devoted San Fermin fans –  “Los Amigos de Pamplona” – where David Palacios gave a toast to them thanking them for loving his town, Pamplona.  Now we have even more #NavarraWineLovers.  Gracias!




Long wine-making history in Navarra: Villa Romana de las Musas (Arellano).


Part of the 7-year aging process for Camilo Castilla’s Capricho de Goya.


Bodega Camilo Castilla (Corella, Ribera Baja).

Castillo de Monjardin visit with owner Sonia Olano. The winery is in the Estella region, on the famous Camino de Santiago.


Chef Alex Mújica explains how to make some of his signature dishes.


“Back stage” at La Cocina de Alex Mújica.

Pañuelo San Fermin, on the road to discovering Navarra.

Chupinazo – the official kick-off to San Fermin!


Chupinazo, private balcony view!

Balcony view from Estafeta

Casino de Pamplona

Traditional “Baile de Alpargatas” at the Casino de Pamplona.

Parade of Cabezudos & Gigantes, a family favorite!

Patron Saint Fermin.


Sociedad Gastronomica Napardi – culinary insider treat!

History of food and wine at Napardi.


Visiting the new urban spa hotel Pompaelo with cocktail master Carlos Rodriguez Felix.

“Brindis” with “Los Amigos de Pamplona”.


“Brindis” with the “Amigos de Pamplona”, David Palacios (President D.O. Navarra) and Pablo Aguirre (Bodegas Ochoa)


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Get to Know Spain’s Navarra DO

By Pablo Aguero,

Michelle Williams,

Navarra is one of Spain’s most ancient wine regions. Historical evidence dates grape growing back to 2 BC when ancient Romans built wineries there. The wines gained prominence in the Middle Ages. By the 18th century viticulture was the main agriculture in the region, and when the phylloxera outbreak hit France, Navarra benefited from increased wine sales. A wine region as old and prominent as Navarra, why don’t more wine consumers know and drink Navarra wines?

The Navarra DO is located in an autonomous region by the same name in the northeastern region of Spain, boarded by the Pyrenees Mountains to the north and La Rioja to the southwest and in close proximity to the Ebro River.  It received DO status in 1933, and has been improving its wine quality ever since. Navarra’s capital city is Pamplona, famous for the annual Fiesta de San Fermin, also known as “the running of the bulls,” that takes place July 6 – 14 annually. Here is a little information to help you get to know Navarra DO:

  • Navarra is divided into five distinct sub-zones:
  1. Ribera Baja: located in the southern tip of Navarra; Tempranillo is dominate grape planted, with Garnacha closely behind in second; flat river plane with sparse vegetation, highly fertile soil comprised of deep, loamy, rocky soil, areas of limestone bedrock, other areas of silty loam…


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Wine of the Day, No. 253

By Pablo Aguero,

Wine of the Day, No. 253


Readers, buy this wine by the case and clasp it to thy bosom as a long-lost friend, not to store under your bed or in a closet but to drink with pleasure for the rest of this year and into 2018. The Principe de Viana Garnacha Roble 2015, from Spain’s Navarra region, is 100 percent varietal — garnacha grapes, also called grenache — and aged a brief three months in older oak barrels. The color is dark ruby shading to a transparent mulberry rim; this is a bright, spicy wine with immediate appeal, featuring red and black currant and plum scents and flavors infused with briers and brambles and notes of wild cherry.







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Navarra at Sunday Dinner

By Pablo Aguero,

Navarra at Sunday Dinner

By Meghan from


Sunday dinner makes those dark winter Sundays a bit more bearable. Add in a delicious Navarra Tempranillo, fun people, and a silly dog, and Sunday becomes positively joyful. It’s a tradition I highly recommend starting.


Sunday dinner

The menu:

Slow roasted pot roast, seared first with garlic and onions, then popped into the slow cooker with a 1/4 cup of red wine, two shots of espresso, black pepper, sea salt on low for six hours

Red wine gravy, made with liquid from the slow cooker and a nice brown roux

Roasted veggies – parsnips, potatoes, and carrots, slow roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper

Mashed butternut squash

Crusty baguette

Chocolate cake from South End Buttery




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The Navarra: Fruit, Spice and Everything Nice

By Pablo Aguero,

The Navarra: Fruit, Spice and Everything Nice

Vino Travels ~ An Italian Wine Blog
Sharing my love for my Italian heritage, travels throughout Italy, Italian food pairings with my passion for Italian wines!

by Jennifer Martin

We’re going on an Italian hiatus this week and taking a short jaunt over to Spain to discover the Navarra. Spain has always been a top country selection for me in terms of value along with Italy. I was introduced to these wines by my blogger friend Susannah of Avvinare that is partnered with the Navarra DO so I was fortunate to sample through an array of wines including white and red wines.

Wine tasting Navarra wines of Spain

The Navarra is located in northern Spain between Madrid and San Sebastian. The Pyrenees are found to the north and it’s also in close proximity to the Ebro River. There is such a variety of topography between the Pyrenees, the Bardenas Reales desert and the Bay of Biscayne to the south. There are even 3 different types of climates as well including continental, Atlantic and Mediterranean. These are all major influences on the Navarra as a winemaking region.

Wine tasting in the Navarra, Spain

The Navarra DO was established in 1933. About 11,000 hectares are under vine and a small portion of those are vines are 30+ year old. The wines of this region are primarily red totaling about 60% with rose’ wines coming in at 30% and whites only at 10%. This area had always been known for it’s rose’ production. Majority of the wines produced (70%) are native grapes including garnacha and tempranillo mostly as well as others including viura, graciano and carinena. The other 30% are international grapes including cabernet sauvignon and merlot mostly with syrah, chardonnay and pinot noir.

Age Levels of Navarra Wine
Reading wine labels in another language can always be tricky. Here are some terms that will help you determine …


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Spicy, fruity Navarra wines warm up chilly spring nights

By Janey Lee,

Spicy, fruity Navarra wines warm up chilly spring nights

By Diane Letulle

Spring in the northeast has wavered been warm days and brisk nights, but one of the up sides to the temperature dips is the opportunity to extend the full-bodied red wine drinking season.  The wine region of Navarra in northern Spain offers some bold wines that are perfect for roasts and stews to warm us up despite the calendar’s date.

I recently sampled several Navarra red wines that were perfect to ward off the unseasonable chill in the air:

Castillo Monjardin Crianza 2013 Coupage Seleccion – This was a medium body wine – but with lots of character.  It had an appealing nose of black and red fruit, with a hint of strawberries, vanilla, and tar.  The wine had good acidity and levels of flavor with more strawberries as well as spicy black pepper. Wines of Castillo Monjardin are widely available in the USA.

Inurrieta Puro Vicio 2013 Syrah – On the nose, there was blackberry jam, with a fresh violet note and an earthy minerality, an almost soil-like note.  Despite the jamminess of the nose, on the palate, the wine had a tension; there was a drama with three major characters: acidity, tannin, and fruit.  It wasn’t plush – it was more angular.  Here the fruit had a spiciness with it, black pepper and clover mixed with the blackberries.  The finish was long.  This is a satisfying wine that would add nicely to a mix of softer wines on a buffet table, or enjoyed with hard cheeses, or with a dinner of roasted pork.


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Navarra Wine Lovers & NYC Wine Lovers

By Pablo Aguero,

Navarra Wine Lovers & NYC Wine Lovers, April 9th at Pierre Loti (Gramercy)

Do you like white, rosé or red wines? Luckily for you, the Navarra wine region of Spain can offer all three types of wines in a multiplicity of styles thanks to their diverse “terroir”. Learn more about what style of wine you like and why on April 9th as you taste an array of wines from Navarra to help you discover for yourself “your style of wine”. You’ll have the chance to taste 11 wines from 9 producers from Navarra and learn about why Hemingway loved not only Pamplona and its annual festivities of “the running of the bulls” but also its wines. One of Spain’s most storied regions under vine is arguably also its most versatile and dynamic.

Thanks to these participating wineries, you’ll discover your style of wine :

  • Bodegas Inurrieta
  • Pago de Cirsus
  • Bodegas Ochoa
  • Bodegas Principe de Viana
  • Bodegas Vega del Castillo
  • Bodegas Castillo Monjardin
  • Pago de Larrainzar
  • Bodegas Piedemonte
  • Bodegas Camilo Castilla



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Fiesta! Running for the Wines of Navarra

By Pablo Aguero,


Most of us are familiar with the famous Running of the Bulls festival held every year in Pamplona, the capital of the region of Navarra in Spain. Thousands of brave revelers race through the town’s winding streets in front of a few toro bravo that have been let loose from their pens. These human risk takers attempt to run to safety before being gored or trampled by the bulls (or other valiant participants). I’ve never witnessed this event and most likely never will, although I’ve heard that the post-run celebration is quite the event. Apparently, wines from Navarra are poured and millions of locals and tourists, dressed in the traditional garb of white, a red hanky, and red sash, are merrily tippling. Now that’s a party I’d love to attend!


Navarra wines


I’ve tasted wines from Rioja, Catalunya, Murcia, Galicia, and other regions in Spain thanks to aggressive marketing efforts. But recently, I received six wines from Navarra, a wine region with which I was unfamiliar. In the safety of my home, I waved my own red hanky and cheered. And the only dash I made was to pour another taste of these palate-pleasing, budget-friendly wines. Perhaps you could call it my personal Running for the Wine…

The Wine Region of Navarra

The Navarra region is nestled into the Pyrenees of north-central Spain, just south of France. With an area smaller than the state of Connecticut, Navarra boasts three major climate types (semi-arid Mediterranean, transitional Continental, and sub-humid Atlantic) and a landscape that consists of semi-desert basin, dense woodland hills, and towering mountains. The diverse wine growing region occupies about half of the area and is approximately 34,000 acres. Its five distinct winemaking subzones (Ribera Baja, Ribera Alta, Tierra Estella, Valdizarbe, and Baja Montaña) are defined by a variety of ecosystems and growing situations such as slopes, streams, plateaus, plains, and more. Soils in the hills of Tierra Estella are high in limestone and can be rocky. In Valdizarbe, they are of chalk, and in Ribera Baja and Ribera Alta, soils are sandy and nutrient poor.


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Wine is the fifth member of their family

By Pablo Aguero,

Beatriz Ochoa

By Ellen Bhang


The wine region of Navarra in northern Spain is often said to be in the shadow of its more famous neighbor, Rioja. Navarra’s winemakers are eager to update that notion, and are letting their diverse pours speak for themselves.

Navarra, located northeast of Rioja across the Ebro River, has long been known for its pink wines, garnacha-based rosados. Hoping to compete with Rioja and make inroads in world markets, the DO (denominacion de origen) made a concerted push in the 1980s to blend indigenous tempranillo with international varietals like cabernet sauvignon and merlot. While some of these modern blends garner the attention of critics, consumers have a less-than-focused impression of the place and its potential.

In the last few years, Navarra’s regulating body has worked to sharpen the DO’s image. A revamped website aimed at US wine enthusiasts,, has done away with comparisons to Rioja. Instead of pushing one flagship grape or style, diversity is heralded as its strength. The region’s geographic subzones — a cooler north, a more continental center, and a Mediterranean-like south —


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Spain’s Navarra region features wines packed with flavor & value

By Pablo Aguero,

Navarra Fields

The Navarra region located in Northern Spain was for years known largely as a producer of Rosé wines, often made from Garnacha.

Over time, that has changed. Today, Navarra features Reds, Whites and Rosés made from a myriad of varieties both local and international. I just tasted through some current release wines from Navarra and I found a lot to like. The wines I sampled offered tons of genuine flavors that are true to the grapes in play. Additionally, they also represent really good values that are well priced for everyday drinking. However, the quality and complexity of a couple selections make them appropriate for special occasions or gifting too.

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DO Navarra Expects “Excellent” 2016 vintage

By Pablo Aguero,

Spain’s Navarra DO has officially brought its 2016 harvest to a close, with the general manager of the Consejo Regulador Navarra predicting an “excellent” 2016 vintage.


Neighbour to Rioja, the region of Navarra in northern Spain extends from the central Pyrenees in the north to the Ebro Valley to the south.

Since the 1980s, when it was more commonly associated with rosé wine made from Garnacha, the region has been successful in making a name for itself outside of its domestic markets, and is now known for its production of modern, keenly-priced wines thanks to vast improvements in winemaking technology and innovation in the region.

Because it is less well-known than its closest neighbour, Rioja, wines from Navarra tend to be good value.


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11 Benchmark wines from Navarra

By Pablo Aguero,

We bring you 11 benchmark wines from across Spain’s most diverse, underrated and northerly wine region: Navarra.


navarra-masterclassFollowing a masterclass on the region in London last month, which was jointly hosted by the drinks business and Jordi Vidal, general manager of DO Navarra, we bring you tasting notes and other details on the wines we showed to highlight what this region has to offer.

From delicious Chardonnays to refreshing rosés, along with smooth red blends, and varietal Garnachas, Navarra can turn its hand to many wine styles, using both native grapes and French varieties – the Kingdom of Navarra came under French rule for almost 300 years.


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Navarra Wines, A Confluence of Cultures

By Pablo Aguero,

Situated in northern Spain, Navarra’s history stretches back to the Romans and includes close links to France, both in terms of its proximity to the country and the fact that the Count of Champagne, Theobald I, also held the title of King of Navarra. The region maintained its independence as a separate kingdom until it finally succumbed to the Castilian empire in 1512.


Dolias at Villa Romana de Arellano

Coupled with this lengthy history is evidence (vinous vessels, called dolias, unearthed at Villa Romana de Arellano) that Navarran wine has been an important product from the very beginning.

Moreover, given Navarra’s place along the Camino de Santiago, it has been at the crossroads of many cultures for centuries. From the earliest days, pilgrims came from England, France, Germany and elsewhere throughout Europe, bringing their customs and cuttings as they passed through.


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Bravura Navarra wine hits all the high notes

By Pablo Aguero,

Spain’s D.O. Navarra wine district nestles just east of La Rioja like two lovers spooning in bed. With much the same soils, the same Río Ebro influence, and a millennium-long winemaking tradition, Navarra has everything to make great wines. It even has some of the oldest plots of the Garnacha grape in northern Spain.

Eleven Navarra producers came through Boston last night showcasing one wine each at the terrific Spanish restaurant Taberna de Haro (999 South Beacon St., Brookline, 617-277-8272, Chef Deborah Hansen’s crew passed tapas as we tasted. Among them were the stunning deconstructed version of her salt cod saffron meatballs,albóndigas de bacalao, shown above.

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The Daily Meal – Say Sí to the Wines of Navarra: A “New” Taste of Spain

By Pablo Aguero,

Navarra may not have the name recognition of their winemaking hermanos in Rioja, but the region produces an abundance of wonderful vino. Located in the north of Spain, the vineyards of Navarra span the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains to the Ebro River Basin and the Bardenas Reales Desert. This diversity of terroir and micro-climates makes Navarra naturally suited to produce a wide variety of wine styles – from refreshing whites & rosés to complex & bold reds.

I was recently invited to learn more about the wines of Navarra at a fantastic seminar led by enthusiastic experts April Cullom and Robin Kelley O’Connor. April said that “Spain is about food, wine, and fun” and Navarra certainly embodies this attitude. Known as the garden of Spain because of its exquisite produce and cheeses, Navarra has a rich culinary tradition and the wines are absolutely food-friendly.

From, by Wanda Mann


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