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The Spanish wine region of Navarra is a seriously big one. This vast space covers over a hundred kilometers, and within the region you can find almost every climatic condition imaginable in Europe. From the semi-desert of the south, near the Bardenas Reales national park, to the northern mountains where the air is damp and the terrain lush and green, this is a region of real variety and range. As you might expect from such a far-reaching bit of wine country, the wines you find in Navarra vary from one extreme to the other. In some ways, this can present Spanish wine fans with a bit of a problem, as Navarra doesn’t really have any singular, identifiable wine style. However, thanks to the dedication of the vintners who work this disparate terroirs, there’s plenty to explore and several gems to uncover.
The temperate regions to the north, in the shadow of the mountain ranges that criss-cross the country produce remarkably fine imported French white wine varietals, such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The mineral rich soils it the foothills are brought forward beautifully in the wines, which are quite distinct from their French cousins. The winemakers of Navarra have also experimented a lot with French style blends over the past two decades, bringing Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon together with the native Tempranillo grape. However, Navarra is principally rose country, and the Garnacha grape varietal thrives in the vineyards which cover this huge and historic region.
Ever since the Phoenicians and Romans brought their knowledge of vine cultivation to Spanish soils, the country's culture has grown alongside wine production, with wine being a vital part of Spanish identity and Spanish traditions. Each region of Spain has a wine quite distinct from the others, and it is produced by smallholders and families as much as it is by large companies and established wineries. From the relatively mild and lush regions of La Rioja to the arid plateaus that surround Madrid, grapes are grown in abundance for the now booming Spanish wine industry, and new laws and regulations have recently been put in place to keep the country's standards high. By combining traditional practices with modern technology, Spanish wineries are continuing to produce distinctive wines of great character, flavor and aroma, with the focus shifting in recent decades to quality over quantity.
There are plenty of notable native Spanish grapes which have made a big impression on the wine world at large, but none are as renowned or as widely loved as the Tempranillo varietal. This black skinned grape has been used for wine making for centuries, with several ancient civilizations noticing the fact that it is highly versatile and holds some delicious flavors and aromas, perfect for those looking for a powerful yet elegant grape for their wines. Tempranillo often causes winemakers some trouble, however, as it is highly susceptible to many diseases. Despite this, plenty continue to persevere with this varietal, as it is perfect for producing delicious and complex single variety and blended wines, packed full of classic Spanish flavors and plenty of aromatic and intense surprises.