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Description: Rioja is a wine from La Rioja in the north east of Spain, to the south of Navarre. La Rioja is further subdivided into three zones (in rising order of warmth) Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja. Rioja Alta is the highest of these zones and is said to produce the best wine. Many wines have traditionally blended fruit from all 3 regions though there is a slow growth in single zone wines.
The wine is a blend of various grape varieties, and can be either red, white or rosé. In red wines, the best-known variety used is Tempranillo. Other grapes used include Garnacha Tinta, Graciano, and Mazuelo. One wine maker, Marques de Riscal is permitted to grow and use Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot by special dispensation. Other wineries also have experimental plantings of these varietals.
Malvasia, Garnacha Blanca and Viura (known alternately as Macabeo) are used in the production of Rioja Blanco (white Rioja).
Rioja red wines are classified into four categories. The first, simply labeled "Rioja", is the youngest, spending less than a year in an oak aging barrel. A "crianza" is wine aged for at least two years, at least one of which was in oak. "Rioja Reserva" is aged for at least three years, of which at least one year is in oak. Finally, "Rioja Gran Reserva" wines have been aged at least two years in oak and three years in bottle. Reserva and Gran Reserva wines are not necessarily produced each year. Also produced are wines in a semi-crianza style, those that have had a couple of months oak influence but not enough to be called a full crianza. According to the official classification, recent excellent vintages were 1982, 1994, 1995, 2001 and 2004.
Wine has been produced in the region since the Roman era of Hispania Tarraconensis. Rioja’s wine industry started within the monasteries founded to serve pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago.
In 1925, Rioja was the first to be granted Denominación de Origen status; in 1991, the appellation was promoted to a Denominación de Origen Calificada due to its consistent quality.
This article came from Wikipedia.
Most frequent country: Spain
See places: Spanish food and cuisine
See drinks, wines etc: Cabernet Sauvignon, garnacha, Malvasia, Merlot