La Rioja

The D.O.C La Rioja Wine Region

La Rioja is a wonderful region for growing grapes and the making of high quality wines. It received the first designation of origin in Spain in 1925, where the D.O. Rioja Denomination of Origin of Rioja) was created to protect it from "usurpers and falsifiers".

Since 1991 the Rioja wines have had the DOCa designation, the finest of Spanish wine. The legislation of the area controls everything from the production area, the grape varieties that are allowed, maximum yield of the vines, wine techniques, aging, etc. There is a public Regulatory Board (Consejo Regulador), that aims to promote the wines and defend the interests of the wine sector.

Location and climate

La Rioja in northern Spain is divided between different municipalities of La Rioja, Basque Country and Navarra, and the Ebro River divides the area. La Rioja has 63,593 hectares of vineyards protected by the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja. These are distributed into La Rioja (43,885 hectares), Álava (12,934 hectares) and Navarra (6,774 hectares). The subdivisions of the region are:

The climate is both Mediterranean and Atlantic, characterized by mild temperatures and medium to average rainfall. This climate gives ideal conditions for growing different varieties of grapes. The soils suitable for wine differs from calcareous clay to ferrous and alluvial.

Grapes used

The grape varieties authorized in the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja are:

Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo, Carignan, Maturana tinta, Maturana and Monastrell.

Viura, Malvasía, White Grenache (Garnacha Blanca), chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, Verdejo, Maturana white, Tempranillo blanco and Turruntés.

The Tempranillo grape
Is the most characteristic variety and principal red strain, is considered native of La Rioja. It occupies about 75% of the acreage, thick skin is shiny black and his name is due to early maturity, giving versatile wines with long aging, balanced, soft and fruity palate that evolves velvety when ages. Is almost always used with other varieties.

General characteristics of wines of DOCa La Rioja
White wines: made primarily with the variety Viura. Young wines are faded yellow, fruity with herbal notes. The barrel-fermented white wines had a golden color and aromas of fruit with creamy notes of wood. Aged Whites are more golden with aroma and flavor of oak.
Red Wines: with Tempranillo grapes as the fundamental basis, a Rioja red wine is characterized by balanced alcohol content, color and acidity. The young wine is produced by carbonic maceration and therefore will be intense in color and very fruity. Others young red wines are light, fresh and easy drinking. Aged red wine characteristics are determined by the time spent in oak barrels. But in general have fruity flavor and aroma with notes of wood. The Reserva and Gran Reserva wines increases harmony and color tends to be orange.
Rosé wines: made from Grenache (Garnacha), have a pinkish color, in mouth are fruity, fresh and palatable.

Important wineries in La Rioja

Details and numbers

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