Campo de Borja is a DO wine zone in Aragon, northern Spain. This extremely arid area is situated just south of the Ebro River and north of La Huecha River, and borders the southern stretches of the Navarra wine region. It is centered on Borja, a small town laden with history, having been founded in 5 BC by the Celtiberians (tribes thought to be of mixed Iberian and Celtic stock). The Borgia family, who came to prominence in Italy during the Renaissance and produced two Popes, were of Borjan origin. The campo in the DO's name means 'field' or 'land'.
Campo de Borja attained DO status in 1980 and the designation is administered by a local Consejo Regulador (wine authority).
Winemaking here dates back to Roman times, and was continued by Cistercian monks at the foot of the imposing Sierra de Moncayo mountain range.
As in the other wine regions of Aragon, Garnacha reigns supreme here. With an average age of 30 to 50 years, the low-yielding vines in Campo de Borja are treasured for producing some of the best examples of Garnacha wines: concentrated, powerful and very aromatic. It's no wonder some locals refer to the region is El Imperio de la Garnacha (the Empire of Garnacha).
Campo de Borja's overall grape-growing conditions are markedly affected by altitude. Although the region has an overall continental climate, the quality of its wines can be attributed to the elevation of its vineyards. The low-lying areas, at a height of 1148ft to 1476ft (350–450m) around Pozuelo de Aragon and Magallon, are the warmest. Here, Garnacha ripens early and produces structured wines, although they are sometimes high in alcohol. The middle elevations – where most of the vines are planted on gentle slopes with high exposure to the sun – lie at altitudes between 1476ft and 1804ft (450–550m). Grapes grown here produce characterful and intense wines with plenty of extract. The highest vineyards, on the slopes of the Moncayo at elevations of up to 1804ft (700m), are the coolest, and produce wines that show finesse, subtlety and balance.
Rain is scarce throughout Campo de Borja. Frosts and hail pose a real threat to vine health right through to late spring. The Cierzo, a cool, harsh, dry, northerly wind, whips through the region and can also damage the vines.
The soils of Campo de Borja are a key factor in its wine styles. The low-lying areas have brown limestone soils. The middle areas' soils come from the rivers Ebro and La Huecha and are made up of deposited stones and iron-rich clay. The highest elevations, in the Moncayo foothills, are stony and rich in iron and lime. All of these soil types offer good drainage and provide the vines with a good habitat, conducive to quality wine.
Apart from Garnacha, other grape varieties of interest are Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mazuelo (Carinena) and Syrah. Given the difficult conditions, yields are low, hence the concentrated wines. Some lighter-style wines with obvious fruit-forward character are also proving popular, as are rosés.