Kravitz still has a knack for finding good wines at great prices – Robert Parker, Parker on Wine, BusinessWeek, 8/20 & 27, 2007

Hand Picked Selections in Navarra

Navarra is a small region just east of Rioja and south of the Basque provinces. While part of Rioja can be considered to be part of Navarra, and while some Cava (sparkling wine) is produced here, there is just one basic Denominacion - Navarra, same as the name of the region itself. This is a somewhat lost corner of Spain. It is most famous for the small city of Pamplona, with the running of the bulls immortalized by Hemingway.

Until very recently the Denominacion was almost exclusively known for rose wines. Today production of red is catching up, and there are increasing quantities of whites. Most of these are dry but there is a small but growing reputation for sweet Moscatel.

The red varietals are the same as Rioja, again with Tempranillo in the leading role, followed by Garnacha, Graciano (a little more prevalent here than in Rioja) and Mazuelo (also known as Cariñena or Carignan). Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are permitted as well.

Navarra wines are almost all inexpensive, although Spanish wines are now so internationally fashionable that a few producers are producing expensive (although not yet $100), rather lavishly oaked wines. The roses have improved greatly over the past decade. With the help of temperature-controlled fermentation and very young bottling, they can now compete for the growing world market for fresh dry roses. The reds have not yet caught up, but as they are very inexpensive, they are worth a try. Whites are still rarely seen outside of Spain. Total production is about 8 million cases from 40,000 acres - not insignificant, but not in the context of Spain's 3 million acres of vines (1st in the world) and 500 million cases (2nd).

Navarra is also a producer of world-class olive oil. Olives have been cultivated in Navarra for more than 2,000 years, with the culinary revolution and global interest in the Mediterranean diet ushering in a new golden era for the region's olive growers.

DO regulations require that the olives be grown in one of the 135 demarcated zones south of Navarra. The oil must have maximum acidity no greater than .5%, and must be made from a minimum of 90% of one or more of the native olives varieties: Arróniz, Arbequina or Empeltre.