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Navarra plans for more than just a rosé future

If you don’t know much about the wines from Navarra, chances are you soon will. This Spanish region is planning to put itself on the wine map with a three-year campaign to show us what it has to offer in terms of quality and diversity.

The move, which is hoped to make consumers see Navarra as more than just that region to the east of Spain’s most famous wine area – Rioja, has come about since the appointment last summer of Pilar Garcia-Granero Marquez as the new president of the region’s promotional body, the Consejo Regulador. Pilar told ThirtyFifty, ‘In Navarra we have many climates, many altitudes and many grapes and we have to promote the really good wines.’

To do this, she says, ‘It’s very important to make a separation between the good wines and the popular, cheap ones.’ As a result, new much stricter regulations are being introduced and a new tasting panel is being trained to test all the wines and select which ones will qualify for the DO and which for the lesser vino de la tierra (equivalent of vin de pays). However, unlike any tasting tests done in other regions in the world, Navarra’s, which starts for the 2008 vintage, will be a double one – with a first test at bottling and a second one year later for rose wines and one and a half years later for red and white wines. The aim is to encourage producers to make wines that will hit the DO criteria. This will be more profitable for them and give the consumer a higher quality wine.

Other changes include allowing a couple more global grape varieties to be used. Small quantities of Syrah and Pinot Noir are to join the around 70% of Tempranillo and Garnacha and 30% of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Surprisingly, since Navarra has the image as a producer of rosé, 70% of wine made in the region is red, but Pilar doesn’t think this is necessarily a problem. She believes that if consumers are familiar with Navarra’s rosé, it can help introduce them to other wines from the region. However, she said, ‘We need to communicate that we are doing things other than rosé and make people taste our wines. This is one of the reasons for a new consumer website, which should be up and running in three months’ time. This will give information about all that Navarra produces and may even be used to sell wine to the public.

While for UK drinkers particularly, Pilar believes Navarra has a lot to offer. Not only can the region take advantage of the recent rocketing demand for rosé here with its ‘fantastic rosé21` with lots of fruit’, but she said, ‘Navarra is a good paradise to discover. Navarra wines are very modern, with a lot of fruit, deep colour and a lot of oak. But we also have juicy young wines that are easy to drink. We have everyday wines and we have very complex wines. You can find all the Spanish DO styles in Navarra.’