WINES OF RIOJA
Currently, at the beginning of the 21st century, talking about wine in Spain means talking about Rioja wine. The denomination of origin Rioja is the only one in Spain which takes the consideration of “qualified” (D.O.Ca. Rioja) and it has become a standard of Spanish wines at both national and international levels.
Although Rioja was always a wine land, it’s not until the philoxera crisis in France in the 19th century that this region starts to produce high quality wines, following production procedures developed in French wine regions, (for instance, the chateaux from Bordeaux) in order to supply the neighbouring country’s markets. After a decline period, it’s in the last decades that this region has powerfully reappeared, becoming in the point of reference for quality red wines, especially for barrel vintage wines.
The region of Rioja includes three sub-regions, each one of them with its own climatic and edaphologic peculiarities. We are referring to Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja. In spite of the differences between them, the usual procedure is a blending of vines from these three regions.
The main aspect of these wines is having tempranillo as their base grape -it’s in this region where this vine grows more satisfactorily- both in single variety and coupage wines. Some of the best aging and vintage wines in the world are obtained from theses grapevines.
Some other varieties that usually accompany tempranillo are graciano, mazuelo and garnacha. The first one gives brightness and fruity bouquet. The second variety provides aging with the necessary tannins. Finally, garnacha is rich in body and alcohol.
Despite the problems that the region may have, related with the rivalry with other new wine-producing regions or the excessive size of the D.O. and the resulting low quality of some wines produced under the Rioja D.O.Ca., it is being possible to maintain classic production standards in order to keep loyal consumers and also researching in new procedures that fit new wine-lover’s tastes. All of this guarantees a promising future for this region’s wines.