The Rioja region in Northern Spain is situated in the Rio Ebro valley, it's northern
border being bounded by the Sierra de Cantabrias mountain range and it's southern
by the Sierra de la Demanda. The resulting geographical location creates
conditions that have produced a perfect environment for vineyards.
The Denominaci?n de Origen Calificada Rioja covers some 57,000 hectares
located in 3 Autonomous Communities those of La Rioja, The Basque country
and Navarra. Between them they produce around 250 million litres of Rioja wine per annum
Of which 85% is red and the rest whites or ros?s.
Wine has been produced in this area for centuries, initially by monks in
the middle ages but as far back as 1635 the Mayor 0f Logro?o decreed
that no carriages were to pass along the roads next to the cellars for
fear that the vibration from them might affect the juice and the ageing
of the precious Rioja wines.
In 1102 we find the first document making reference to the safeguarding
of the quality of Rioja wines when King Sancho of Navarra legally recognized
the wines from this area. Then in 1787 the Real Sociedad Econ?mica de
Cosecheros de Rioja (Royal Economic Society of Rioja Winegrowers) was
established with the sole purpose of encouraging the cultivation of
vines, wine production and its commercial development.
In 1902 came a Royal Decree which defined the "origin" applicable to
Rioja Wines and then in 1926 came the Consejo Regulador (Control Board)
with responsibility to define the designated boundaries of the Rioja region,
supervise and issue the "seal of approval", and to recommend the legal action to be taken
against mis-use of the name Rioja. In 1945 the board received it's
legal structure and then in 1953 finally became officially
established from which time it has set out the foundations for a
modern and efficient production of these world famous Spanish wines.In
1970 this responsibility was clearly defined thus, "The Control Board
shall uphold the Designation of Origin and implement, monitor and
foster the quality of its wines."
The long history of the production and development of Rioja wines
has resulted in a wine of outstanding quality which can confidently stand
shoulder to shoulder with many of the worlds finest wines. This was
further acknowledged when on April 3rd. 1991 a Ministerial Order
granted the category of "Calificada" to the D.O., the first and only
wine designation of origin in Spain to attain this ranking.
Rioja Wines, Grape Varieties.
For many centuries wine has been produced in the Riojan area and obviously
this lengthy passage of time has resulted in the natural selection of grapes best
suited to the area and best able to produce wines of the highest quality.
Factors such as soil type and climate play a large part in this
selection process but of course the resultant wine is an all important
consideration as well.
Today seven varieties of grape are permitted by the Regulations of
the Denominaci?n de Origen Calificada Rioja, these are:-
Red grape; Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano and
White Grape; Viura, Malvas?a and White Garnacha.
Types of Rioja Wines.
Most Rioja wines are normally the result of the harmonious
combination, in varying proportions, of the different varieties
grown in the region and the different sub-areas within them.
Rioja wines exhibit much aromatic complexity. They are fresh, with a
medium body, a balanced structure, and an excellent bouquet.
* Red wines: Classic wines of bright colour with a fresh, penetrating
aroma; light in the mouth with medium alcohol content. Tempranillo is
the predominant variety used to make these wines.
* Ros? wines: Bright pink wines with a strong fragrance. They are
light and fresh in the mouth, with medium alcohol content. Garnacha
is the predominant variety used to make these wines.
* White wines: Greenish-yellow, which can be more or less pale. They
exhibit fine aromas and prove light in the mouth with fairly low
alcohol content. Viura is the predominant variety used to make these
Ageing Rioja Wines.
Rioja wines are aged in 225-litre oak casks, with periodic
rackings, followed by a further period of bottle ageing. There are
over 270 ageing bodegas in Rioja which have a total of over 900,000
casks. The different Rioja wine categories are based on minimum
ageing periods, which can vary between 1 and 3 years in casks and
between 6 months and 6 years in the bottle, depending on whether the
wine is to be a Crianza, a Reserva or a Gran Reserva.
Rioja wines are aged in oak casks of 225 litre capacity with periodic rackings.
Then follows a period of bottle ageing. The length of the ageing process
differs between different categories of Riojan wine and can vary from
1-3 years in the cask and 6 months to 6 years in the bottle depending
on whether the wine is to be a Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva. Today there
are over 270 ageing bodegas in Rioja with over 900,000 casks.
The lengthy tradition of winemaking in the Rioja region of Northern Spain
with the inherent wealth of experience that such a period of trial, error,
disaster, success and experimentation produces has resulted in blessing
the world with a marvellous wine which will satisfy the most discerning palette.
About the Author
Article submitted by
Ruth Polak the owner of title="www.costadelsol-vacationrentals.com" target="_blank">www.costadelsol-vacationrentals.com
A web site specializing in holiday villas and apartments on the Costa
del Sol and in Rural Andalucia. You will also find a wealth of information
about Spain and Andalucia, in particular.
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