Focus 50: Trip 11, Chivite (Spain)
To mark Enotria&Coe’s 50th anniversary this year, we’re shining a light on 50 outstanding producers who have been instrumental to our company history. As part of our celebrations, members of the E&C team took a trip to Navarra to experience the world of Focus 50 winemaker Chivite first hand Here, Demand Planner Stefanie Metcalf shares her highlights.
Visiting Chivite’s vineyards in Villatuerta, just below Pamplona in the region of Navarra, is one of the best ways to get a sense of both tradition and modernisation in Spanish winemaking. The Chivite family have been producing wine since 1647, for 11 generations, which makes their business one of the country’s oldest wine companies. But this crown jewel of Navarran wine is also entering a new era, debuting ranges that cater to shifting palates and updating time-honoured brands.
Across the verdant landscape, the patchwork of parcels demonstrates a balance of vineyards within areas of local woodland: Chivite’s 245-hectare estate contains 130 hectares of vineyards, of which 30 are new. Winemaker Javier Izquierdo was bursting with enthusiasm. He was keen to drive home the message that Chivite is always working to achieve harmony between the vines and the habitat in which they grow. The rolling hills result in different levels of sun exposure and soil variation for each varietal. As Javier explained, these parcels are the identity of Chivite’s wines.
While Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes are historical and traditional, Chardonnay and Syrah have been identified as suitable varieties for the area. These vineyards are on the geographical limit of where Tempranillo can survive, and the result is a smaller grape with a particular pulp-to-skin ratio. The cold air is a feature of the Atlantic Mediterranean climate, and at the end of the summer the distinct variation in temperature from day to night contributes to slower ripening and therefore a later harvest. This allows freshness and acidity to come through in the wines.
The Colección 125 range showcases the upper tier of the portfolio, of which the Chardonnay is the most well-known and celebrated. As parcel wines, these have a limited production and are therefore on a yearly allocation. From where we stood in the vineyard, Javier explained which parcels are used for the Colección wines. On this specific slope, the grapes from the middle section most reliably contribute to an interesting aromatic expression.
Produced in larger volumes is the Lagardeta range, made up of a Chardonnay, a Syrah and a Grenache. Although the grapes can be taken from different parcels, these are still classed as single-estate wines. The central concept of Chivite has always been to work with mono-varietal wines, but the more recent Las Fincas range is the first to include blended wines.
We were honoured to have Julian Chivite join us as we tasted a range of rosés, whites and reds. We started with the refreshing Las Fincas Rosado, a mix of Garnacha Tinta and Tempranillo. We also tasted the barrel-fermented version, an exclusive edition with a longer finish. The group favourite was the Las
Fincas Blanco 2 Garnachas, a fresh and balanced Blanc de Noir described by Brand Manager Elena Parry as ‘a white with a red soul’. From their beautifully customised cabin at the top of the hill, we were able to enjoy the wines while taking in stunning views of the landscape. We could have happily stayed to watch the sunset.