are produced in northern Spain, around the region of Rioja, which is how the wine gets its name. Rioja was the first wine producing region in Spain to be granted the Denominacion de Origen
(DO) Stauts. This means that only wines produced in this area can be given the Rioja classification.
Where Does Rioja Come From?
Rioja comes from 3 sub-regions.
Rioja Alta - this is located on the western side of Rioja, which is higher in altitude, as a result the growing season is shorter, which therefore produces a grape which is not as ripe. This creates a wine which is quite light.
Rioja Alvaesa - Here the grapes give the wine a full body and a light acidity. The condition of the soil is poor, therefore the vines give a lower yield.
Rioja Baja - This area has a more Mediterranean climate than the Alta and Alvaesa, which have a continental climate. The wines produced in this region tend not to have much acidity or many aromas. They also tend to be used in balancing the wine in other Riojas.
What is Rijoca made from?
Rioja can be blended with wines from any of the three sub-regions to create new flavours. Typically, there are 7 main grape varieties used to produce red and white Rioja.
The grapes used in red Rioja wines include the dominant, Tempranillo (which comes from the Spanish word, temprano, which means, "ittle early one". There is also Granacha Tinta, Graciano and Mazuelo.
The grapes used in white Rioja include Viura, Malvagia and Granacha Blanca.
Normally, Rioja is aged in American oak barrels, although sometimes French oak is also used. The wines can be blended from the two different types of barrels to create interesting styles of Rioja.
There are 4 styles of Rioja
wine produced depending on how long each is aged for.
1. Rioja - is the youngest wine, which spends less than a year in oak barrels.
2. Rioja Crianza - This Rioja is aged for two years, at least one year is spent in an oak barrel.
3. Rioja Reserva - this type of wine is aged for at least three years, one year is spent in an oak barrel.
4. Rioja Gran Reserva - which is aged for 5 years, 2 of which is in an oak barrel and 3 years in the bottle.
The more time the Rioja spends aging, the more expensive the wine becomes. Rioja is best enjoyed when it is young. However, Rioja Gran Reserva is the perfect Spanish wine to keep and is therefore perfect as Christening gifts, milestone birthday presents, wedding gift ideas and new baby gifts.
Date posted: 22/06/2011