by Amy Gross, the VineSleuth
Unfortunately I had to duck out of the Rioja wine class and tasting at the Snooth PVA weekend a bit early in order to catch my flight back to Houston, but I was still able to learn quite a bit about the region and taste some delicious wines.
Region vs. Grape
Rioja is a wine region in Spain and, just like other Old World wines, the wine is identified by its region, not by the grape blend in the bottle. Tempranillo is the grape variety you are most likely to find in a Rioja wine as it thrives in the climate and has, consequently, grown in popularity over the years.
You can also find Garnacha Tinta (or Grenache, which is its more popular French name) Graciano, and Mazuelo in Riojan reds, as well as a few others. Don’t be mistaken, though, Rioja also produces white wines. Viura, Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca are among those white Riojan varieties.
Rioja is situated in northern central Spain and is 70 miles long and 30 miles wide, spanning 7 valleys created by tributaries into the Ebro river, which flows to the Mediterranean. The region is further broken down into three subregions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja.
High Quality Wine
In 1991 Rioja was the first region in Spain to earn the classification of DOCa, or Denominacion de Origen Calificada. This classification signifies that the wines from this region are consistently of high quality. Only two other regions in the country have the same classification. Planting, harvesting and yield practices, as well as other wine making practices and labeling guidelines are governed and monitored to keep this prestigious classification.
So what do the wines taste like?
Tempranillo is typically a medium-bodied wine with red fruit characteristics. That means you might notice sour cherry, cherry, or red berry flavors in a glass. That being said, however, I don’t find them to typically be all fruit, as I often notice hints of tobacco or spices, as well. I most often find them to be full of flavor and have absolutely enjoyed exploring Rioja tempranillos both when offered at 100% and when blended perhaps with Garnacha Tinta.
What do You Think?
Are you a fan of Rioja wines? Which are your favorites? Let us know in the comments.
Read more about Rioja wine from these Snooth PVA bloggers:
- Cellar Worth Rioja - Vindulge
- Rioja: An Untapped Resource - The V.I.P. Table
- Snooth PVA: Wines of Rioja - Benito’s Wine Reviews
Disclosure: My attendance at this seminar was sponsored by Snooth. Opinions expressed are my own.