Rioja Wine Facts and Information
Rioja is the most famous and most productive wine region of Spain. There are 140,000 acres of vineyards and most of those are Tempranillo vines. Other red varietals are Garnacha, Mazuelo (Carignane in other parts of Spain) and a smattering of other red grapes. In addition to red varietals, there are also white grapes grown in Rioja. I love the barrel fermented Viura wines; they are delicious. Just recently, a mutation occurred and Rioja now has Tempranillo Blanco. For more on this new white wine grape, read our post “Tempranillo Blanco is alive and well.”
The town of Haro is considered the capital of the Rioja region. That is because some of the oldest and most famous wineries are located here. Try visiting Bodegas Bilbainas, Bodegas Muge, and Vina Tondonia. But the city of Logroño is where all the business of wining and dining takes place. It is a great city and is one of the spots where we stayed while touring the Rioja. Our home base was the AC Marriott Hotel.
Here is a very short video on the most important grape in Rioja, Tempranillo.
As in other wine regions of Spain, there are strict laws for identifying various levels of wine as it relates to aging before being released for consumption. Rioja seems to have the most strict laws. Here are the designations:
- Joven: The term literally means young. These wines are aged in oak for a brief time or may never see oak at all.
- Crianza: The wine must be aged for two years, one of which must be in the barrel.
- Reserva: The wine must be aged for a minimum of three years, one of which must be in the barrel.
- Gran Reserva: The wine must be aged for five years, with two years minimum in the barrel.