Itxas Harri, located in the village of Monteagudo in the Basque region of Navarra, was the dream of Iñaki Guelbenzu. Iñaki, a long-time friend and partner of Ignacio Ameztoi in Getaria, longed to make wine in his native region. Navarra is considered the garden of Spain for its top quality produce such as asparagus, piquillo peppers, artichokes, and sheep-milk cheeses like Roncal and Idiazábal. Inspiration for Itxas Harri grew over the years with Iñaki and Ignacio repeatedly visiting the area, searching out the best local gastronomy, as the region is known for its fantastic vegetables and Iñaki is a Basque gastronome with an encyclopedic knowledge of the region. Their yearly visits to dine in regional restaurants grew into an intense appreciation for the quality of the local ingredients, which are legendary in the north of Spain.
Iñaki was also inspired by the local wine’s ability to pair well with vegetables and fish, and so he began quietly looking for the right vineyards. He learned from older farmers in the area where the best plots could be found, with the goal to make delicate, expressive wines to compliment hard-to-pair vegetables, like the local artichoke. Finally, he was able to convince a retiring farmer to sell him 2ha of old vines in the right location.
Monteagudo is known as one of the best locations for old-vine garnacha and tempranillo in the region, as the area was once an ancient seabed with mixed alluvial soil from the Ebro river plain. There is an interesting confluence of three climates in Navarra: Atlantic, Continental, and Mediterranean from north to south. This gives the region many diverse wine styles. Itxas Harri is located in the southern subzone of Ribera Baja, at the southern tip of Navarra, inside the arid Ebro basin between Aragón and La Rioja, dominated by the Mediterranean climate. Most of the Ribera Baja subzone sits in a river plain, dominated by the imposing presence of the Sierra del Moncayo range to the southwest. The area is populated by small, predominantly family-owned vegetable farms and a handful of wineries.
The resulting wines from Itxas Harri defy standard logic, as Navarra lies inland, yet the wines have a restraint and freshness with lower alcohol levels which we associate with the coastal areas. This was the result of the marine-bed vineyard for which Iñaki had been searching. The inaugural vintage of 2018 yielded just five-hundred cases of one wine, an old-vine garnacha rosé, appropriately named Ŕoxa, which is "rosé" in Basque. Ŕoxa is an elegant, refreshing rosé which pairs beautifully with the grilled artichokes and vegetables for which Navarra is so famous. It’s exciting to imagine the future of Itxas Harri, as Iñaki recuperates old vineyards and reveals the hidden potential of this historic region.