The wines of Bernabé Navarro, Alicante, Spain
Striking natural wines from Rafa Bernabé


These are truly interesting natural wines from Alicante, in Spain. Rafa Bernabé (above) works naturally, with organically managed vineyards (mostly old bush vines), no added yeasts, and little or no added sulfur dioxide. He is also keen on using clay amphorae, called tinajas. He has vineyards close to the sea with sandy soils (at Torrevieja, for whites), and also further inland at altitude (for reds). Early harvesting is carried out, especially for the whites.

It is so encouraging to see winemaking taking as many risks as this. Not all the wines quite carry it off, but most do, and none are dull. Around 1000 bottles of each cuvée are made.


Bernabé Navarro Benimaquía Tinajas 2012 Alicante, Spain
Moscatel, made in amphorae (tinajas) with no added SO2, 6 months on skins. 12.5% alcohol. Deep bronze colour. Amazing aromatics of sweet peach and apricot with some spice. The palate has a firm grippy character with lemony, apricot fruit. Very dry but not awkward, with pretty fruit. Subtle tea notes. 92/100

Bernabé Navarro El Carro Moscatel 2010 Alicante, Spain
Lovely nose of aniseed, lemons and grapes. The palate is fresh with lovely distinctive tea, grape and citrus notes. Very pure. 92/100

Bernabé Navarro La Viña de Simon 2011 Alicante, Spain
Varietal Merseguera. Pithy, spicy and mineral with apricot and pear on the nose. Lively, pure and pithy on the palate with herbs and minerals. Grippy and distinctive. 93/100

Bernabé Navarro El Carro 2011 Alicante, Spain
Amazing, lively, aromatic citrus pith, lime and herb nose. The palate is piecing, pithy and lively with amazing acidity. Such purity, and just a hint of matchstick minerality, too. 92/100

Bernabé Navarro Musikanto 2010 Alicante, Spain
No added SO2, made in tinajas. Pink/orange colour. Subtle with some red cherry, spice and mineral notes as well as a bit of ripe red apple. Restrained with good acidity. Oxidative style. 87/100

Bernabé Navarro Les Cipresses de Usaldón 2010 Alicante, Spain
14.5% alcohol, no added SO2.  This is Garnacha Peluda, semicarbonic maceration. Powerful, fresh and a bit minty and meaty with spicy, peppery black fruits on the nose. There’s a savoury edge to the black fruits with some earthy notes, and some rustic spiciness. Dense, structured and vivid with some grip. Rustic but lovely. 92/100

Bernabé Navarro La Amístad 2012 Alicante, Spain
Now this is unusual: it’s not a rosé, but it’s not quite a red wine. Full red/pink colour. Fresh raspberry cherry nose with some savoury, spicy notes. The palate is really fresh with a bit  of cranberry and raspberry, with subtle reduction, and notes of apple and herb. Lovely balance. 91/100

Bernabé Navarro Ramblis del Arco 2012 Alicante, Spain
13% alcohol, no added SO2. Cherry red colour. Very bright and fresh with pure sweet raspberry fruit and good acidity, as well as some intriguing hay and straw notes. Quite lean and fresh with a hint of pepper. Lovely grippy structure. Youthful tasting, elegant and fresh. 93/100

Bernabé Navarro Trago Largo 2012 Alicante, Spain
This Rafa’s ‘drinking’ wine, and it’s a varietal Monastrell, no added sulfites. A vital, fresh, grippy wine with a slightly reductive nose of fresh cherry and berry fruits. The palate is fresh, vivid and grippy with some spritz adding freshness. Really fresh, with a drying finish that means it's best with food. 90/100

Bernabé Navarro El Morrón 2011 Alicante, Spain
No added sulfites. Palish cherry red colour. Warm, spicy, savoury nose with some sweet red cherry fruit. Enticing and complex. The palate is fresh with grippy, savoury notes as well as sweet red cherry fruits, with some herbal notes. Lots of interest here. Food friendly, complex and distinctive. 92/100

Wines tasted 07/13 and 09/13

UK agent: Les Caves de Pyrene

See also:

Escoda Sanahuja
Bodegas Ponce

Wines tasted 01/11  
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