Navarra is very much in the shadow of Spain’s most powerful brand Rioja. Of the hundred winners of last year’s Wines from Spain Awards just one still wine was from Navarra – a wine from the Bodegas Julián Chivite.  This ancient producer, family-owned since the 17th century, is doing its best to disassociate itself from Navarra.

Navarra is one of Spain’s most diverse and ancient wine regions. It has always been proudly independent: the last kingdom to be integrated into greater Spain in 1512, to this day it is allowed to set its own taxes – the only other state with this distinction is the Basque country.

Navarro’s vineyards are all in the northernmost Tierra Estella region, including Finca de Arínzano, which has pago status, the most exalted level of Spanish wine. None of its top labels – Arínzano, Coleccion 125 and Finca Villatuerte – say DO Navarra on the label. The only Chivite brand with that distinction is the mid-level (but excellent) Gran Feudo.  ‘We want to develop the Chivite brand as high-quality wines from Spain. While Navarra is going to a low price level, Chivite is premium,’ export director José Maria Nieves says.

Wines from Navarra...