Vine varieties - Enozentrum
On many occasions, it is common practice to ask for a wine by the name of the grape variety it was made from, sometimes even without realising it. So, although you may simply feel like a young wine or a white wine, you may ask for a Tempranillo or a Chardonnay, as you associate these names with certain characteristics of the product that you feel like drinking.
But, even though you name them without realising this, do you know what a variety is?
If you're not clear on this, just be aware that a variety in the plant world is the same as a race in the animal world, and you're sure to quickly understand things.
There can be many differences with regard to the morphological and physiological characteristics of each variety, however here it is important to know what each different grape offers so that, based on this, it is possible to make and enjoy different wines.
But not all grape varieties can be cultivated everywhere.
In order to cultivate a particular variety in a specific region, it must be authorised in the Autonomous Community in question. In Navarre, the following varieties are authorised for cultivation.
Red wine varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tinta, Graciano, Merlot, Tempranillo, Bobal, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Maturana Tinta, Mazuela, Monastrell, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Syrah.
White wine varieties: Chardonnay, Moscatel de Grano Menudo (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains), Albariño, Albillo Mayor, Turruntés, Garnacha Blanca, Gewürztraminer, Gros Manseng, Hondarrabi Zuri, Macabeo, Viura, Malvasía, Maturana Blanca, Parellada, Petit Corbu, Petit Manseng, Riesling, Sauvginon Blanc, Tempranillo Blanco, Verdejo, Viognier, Xarello.
If, moreover, the wine is to come under a quality label, then it must also be authorised by the said quality label (Designation of Origin or Protected Designation of Origin).
Having reached this point, you may possibly be asking yourself: “is there some way of knowing what each variety is like so that I can then decide which ones I'd like to try?” Don't worry. If you go to the websites of the different Designation of Origins here in Navarre, all the relevant varieties are there and you'll be able to read all about them. But, to make things easier, we're now going to offer a summary of the characteristics of some of the most popular grape varieties in Navarre. This will allow you to learn more about them and to broaden your experience when enjoying a glass of wine (you can also get more experience by tasting the grapes and then the wines).
Estas son algunas de las variedades de vid más cultivadas en Navarra
Garnacha Tinta (Red)
This is a red grape variety with a yield that can vary considerably from one year to the next due to the fact that the fruit formation is extremely sensitive to environmental conditions. This is one of the most traditional and historical varieties of our region. It is the protagonist of our rosé wines. Although it is also used to make young red wines and Crianza reds. With fruity aromas, the characteristics of its wines depend on the environmental conditions, producing wines with a higher alcohol content in the warmer areas and fresher, more acidic wines in the cooler areas.
Garnacha Blanca (White)
This white grape variety was developed from a change in the DNA of Garnacha Tinta, preventing it from synthesizing anthocyanins, the molecules that give the grape its red colour. Although it was at risk of becoming extinct at the beginning of the century, it is now recognised as being an alternative white variety to other more commonly cultivated varieties. Just like the Garnacha Tinta, its yield is irregular and its wines acidic. With regard to aroma, this is of medium intensity, with a floral character, with notes that are either fresher or of mature fruit, depending on the time of the grape harvest.
This is the red variety that is most cultivated not only in Navarre, but in our country as a whole. Although it is more sensitive to a shortage of water than the Garnacha, its yield is more uniform. Its wines have a balanced alcohol content, colour and acidity and its aromas are reminiscent of blackberries and liquorice. This variety is used to make young wines and Crianza wines, due to its good ageing qualities, where it texture evolves to be reminiscent of velvet (or in other words, its mouthfeel evolves to velvety).
Moscatel de Grano Menudo (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains)
Just like the Moscatel that we generally serve as a table grape, the Moscatel de Grano Menudo is a white grape variety, although its berries are much smaller and rounder. It is one of the varieties that is harvested the earliest, given that it ripens extremely quickly. This variety is mainly used to make sweet single variety wines (that are not combined with other varieties). Our Moscatel wines are wines with a great aromatic intensity.
A red wine variety which, although it is not among the ones that are most cultivated, it is in fact one of the most characteristic of our region. This is a late ripening variety and is one of the last to be harvested. Its wines are noted for the intensity of their colour and high acidity, making them good for ageing. Although they are normally blended with other varieties, it is also possible to find wines that are 100% Graciano, young wines and Crianza wines alike.
Also known as Macabeo, this white grape variety has large, compact clusters (with so little space between the grapes that they hardly move when you touch them). They are used to make white wines with a moderate alcohol content, low acidity and which are neither aromatic nor fruity.
This is one of the most cultivated red varieties at a world level and is probably the most renowned, given that it can be found in all the wine producing areas of the world. French in origin, it was introduced into Navarre in the eighties. Its grapes are characterised for giving flavours that are reminiscent of green peppers, when they are not yet mature. It is used to make wines with an intense colour and good acidity, and so is good for Crianza wines, generally blended with other varieties.
If the Cabernet Sauvignon is the most internationally recognised red grape variety, then Chardonnay is its equal among the white varieties, being the most cultivated white grape variety at a global level, to produce wines of quality. Also French in origin, it was introduced into Navarre in the eighties. It offers great oenological potential for barrel fermented white wines. Its grape musts have a good alcohol content, are very aromatic, with aromas reminiscent of citrus fruit, hay and honey, with good acidity.
This red grape variety is French in origin and is closely behind the Cabernet Sauvignon with regard to cultivated surface area. It ripens early and is therefore among the first red varieties to be harvested in our region. Offering intense fruity aromas, just like the Cabernet Sauvignon, it has a good colour and good acidity, making it suitable for young reds and crianza wines alike.
After Chardonnay, this white wine variety that originated in France is the most cultivated at a world level and one of the most popular for making wines of quality. With an early ripening and medium-low yield, it produces elegant wines that stand out for their pale colour, good acidity and aromas.