The great contrasting landscapes as well as different climatic conditions and soil composition that are characteristic in DO Navarra, compel us to divide the area into five very distinct sub zones that supply dissimilar wines. A total of 15.000 hectares are split up in the following territories: Baja Montaña, Ribera Alta, Ribera Baja, Tierra Estella and Valdizarbe.
- Baja Montaña is placed at the northeast of DO Navarra and includes 14 municipalities, representing the 15% of total production. Climate has Pyrenean influences, is dry and humid. Depending on the orography there are different soil types: on the southern hillsides the texture is heavy and without stones, while the rest of the slopes are usually clearly fine or loamy textured with a stony cover that varies in thickness. The plains at the valley bottoms and fluvial terraces have clear textured soils, deep, with plenty of gravel and very good drainage.
The most representative varieties in this area are Garnacha and Tempranillo, with whom perfect fruity young wines are obtained.
- Ribera Alta, is located at the centre of DO Navarra and includes 24 municipalities, being the largest sub zone of all five. Here climate is dryer and warmer than at Baja Montaña as it is further away from the Pyrenees influence. It has marl and alluvial soils. The most cultivated varieties are Tempranillo and Chardonnay, followed by Garnacha, Viura and Malvasía. The strongest and with highest alcoholic content wines of DO Navarra are produced here.
- Ribera Baja is placed at the south of DO Navarra and has 13 municipalities. It suffers the most arid climate of all the designation with low rainfall. The largest part of the grapevines is settled on the Ebro river fluvial terraces, on deep soils with clear and stony texture. They produce first class red, rosé and white wines with the varieties Garnacha, Viura, Malvasía and Moscatel de Grano pequeño.
- Tierra Estella is the western area of DO Navarra, bordering with the Basque Country and La Rioja, and encompassing 26 municipalities. It has a transitional climate between the sub-humid northern zone and the dry south. As far as soils are concerned, Estella slopes have deep and clayey soils whereas the rest of the hillsides have clear fine and loamy textures, alternating layers of marl, sand and conglomerate, in many cases with the typical red colour. At the fluvial terraces and the bottom of the valleys, soils are deep, with clear texture, abundant in gravel and with good draining capacity. The main grape varieties grown here are Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, to a lesser extend Garnacha, Graziano, Mazuelo and Viura. These red wines are well-balanced and suitable for long cask-ageing.
- Valdizarbe is the last of the sub zones in DO Navarra, placed at the centre of the autonomous community and includes 24 municipalities. Its climate is more humid that the rest of the appellation and grapevines are usually settled at the shaded areas as the mountain ranges rising at the north reduce the Atlantic influence. Rainfall levels are high. Soils at the southern part of the slopes are made up of grey marls and sand, with heavy texture and scant stone content, while all the other hills have alternating marl and sand layers, with clear fine or loamy textures. Near the rivers soils are alluvial, deep, well-drained. The main varieties are Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Red wines from Navarra are fresh, fruity and rather acid in the northern areas, where Tempranillo is dominant. More at the south, Garnacha is prevailing and resulting wines are warmer, more mature and smooth than the former.
When it comes to Navarra white wines, we should refer to the Chardonnay fermented and cask-aged wines where fumes, nuts and butter nuances prevail.