The Rioja vineyards are located along the Ebro River in the northern part of Spain and extend to the territory of three autonomous municipalities: La Rioja, Navarre and the Basque province of Alava.
Rioja Alavesa is the smallest, northernmost area. Tempranillo ripens early and makes guilty to drink younger. For them, carbon maceration * is often used - like the young Beaujolais. In Rio, Alavesa has a significant impact on the Atlantic climate, and the soils are limestone clay, located on terraces and small plots.
Rioja Alta is in the western part and, as the name suggests, is a higher altitude. It is often regarded as the highest quality wine producing region with good taste, balance and aging potential. In Rio Alta, the climate is predominantly Atlantic, and the soils are calcium-clayey and alluvial.
Rioja Oriental (formerly Rioja Baja) is southeast, with dry and warmer conditions, and produces higher-grade, sparkling wines. The soils are alluvial, rich in iron clay. The García variety performs best here.
Traditionally, many manufacturers mix wines from the three regions to offer their own readings to the famous Rioja.
Varieties and Classifications in Rioja
In the 19th century, the style of wine from Rioha changed under the influence of the French. Maturing in American oak barrels is becoming a standard, and red wines are beginning to resemble what is now considered a classic style - soft, with red fruits, earthly notes, hard acidity, and vanilla and dill flavors that come from the use of the American oak.
Recently, he has made his way a new style of Riohan wine. Many growers move to French oak aging, longer maceration (soaking) and more mature and darker fruits. Similar is the situation with white wines. Some are produced in a pure, fruity, modern style while others are influenced by a long aging period in oak and therefore with slight oxidative notes.
Tempranillo is the main variety in the red Rioja. Mixed with Mazuelo (Carignan), Graciano, and Garnacha, it must constitute at least 85% of the Rioja coupling or 95% if the handles are removed. With the few remaining amounts, the winemakers can experiment.
Vieira (Macaboe) is the main variety in the white Rioja. It blends with Garnacha Blanca, Malvas & iacute, and Riojano and Maturana Blanca. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo can also be used, but together they can not exceed 49%. Rosado wines require a minimum of 25% participation of a red variety.
Rioja and Ribera del Duero have different aging rules that are tougher than those applied in the rest of Spain. Grand Reserves are made only with exceptional crops.
Joven / Rioja - Young wine
Crianza - 1 year in oak + 1 year in bottle
Rezerva - 2 years in oak + 1 year in bottle
Grand Rezerva - 2 years in oak + 3 years in bottle
White Wine and Rose
Joven - Young wine
Crianza - 6 months in oak + 6 months in bottle
Rezerva - 6 months in oak + 18 months in bottle
Grand Rezerva - 6 months in oak + 42 months in bottle