From a qualitative and quantitative point of view, Rioja is not only one of the most important wine regions in Spain, but in the world. On more than 60,000 hectares of vineyards, around 85% red grapes are grown here in the sub-areas Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa, of which the Tempranillo is the most important grape variety with over 60% of the total area. Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano grape varieties are also permitted for red wines. The style of Rioja red wines has become fuller, fruitier and less oxidative in recent decades, as the grapes are harvested more ripely than before and barrel storage times have been reduced. This even applies to traditional bodegas such as La Rioja Alta, even if they still have an unmistakable aromatic house style. In addition, another brand for more modern and fruity wines has been created, called Torre de Oña. Another big name, Bodegas Marques de Murrieta, underwent a complete change of style in the early 2000s and today makes wines that appear very modern and have completely shaken off the distinctive acid structure and oxidative notes of earlier decades. It's still top class, of course, maybe even more so than ever.
Traditionally, Rioja is a cuvée made up of several vineyards, vines or even areas. Red Rioja can be very long-lived, even 100-year-old specimens can still be a pleasure.
Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva denote the legally defined ones Barrel or bottle storage times before the wine is sold. More and more modern-oriented bodegas are now also vinifying particularly good individual vineyards separately, which undermines the traditional hierarchy of the above-mentioned terms, because some such wines are more expensive than the Gran Reserva of the house, but only have "Reserva" on the label.< /p>
The international appreciation for the top Rioja wines has increased significantly in recent years, which can be clearly seen in the prices for the cult wines. But you can still find enough wineries that offer great and characterful wines at fair prices. Amézola de la Mora, Bodegas Lan and Altos R are highly recommended.