Rioja is one of those words in the wine industry now that, for most people, means a certain thing. It’s almost like a brand name. Red wine from Spain. Wine-o’s will not enjoy me saying that, but they’ll understand what I’m saying, and know for most people on the planet that that’s true.
Why would they not enjoy me saying that? Well two things really. Firstly fantastic white wines and rosés are made in Rioja under the Rioja DOCa (like AOC in France). Also, and fairly obviously, red wine is made all the way around Spain. Producers in the Duero, in Priorat, and even as close as Navarre are going to be slightly pissed off that Rioja has such a marketing fix, but is what it is. Rioja had a first footer jump on every one else.
So this week we’re going for the “famous” Rioja. The reds. Made from the famous grapes of Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache in France, Australia etc.), and maybe a few other less well-known grapes. Garnacha adds body and alcohol, Tempranillo gives the colour and the acidity. It’s a match made in heaven.
There are three main growing areas in Rioja (Alta, Alavesa, and Baja), each giving their own slant on the grapes due to the different terroir (all the soil, climate, all that different stuff).
This is where Rioja gets fun, and impossible to pigeonhole. Wines tend to be a different blend of the grapes, the areas, and all the different options when it comes to ageing. You can have young, fruity, tannic wines, you can have aged, structured, and smooth wines. That’s where it gets fun!
Other Posts in NWTW Week 40: