Spanish Wine - Rioja
Spanish Wine – Rioja
In the competitive wine market, Spanish wines offer both quality and values. Its red wines are intense and fruity, while its white and rosé wines enjoy the crispness, refreshing acidity and minerals that are characterful.
Of the many and confusing wine producing regions, Rioja DOC- DOC is a quality wine classification – made its fame long before all other regions in the modern days. At any wine store with Spanish wines, you would be able to spot at least a few Riojas.
What makes it the first love for many wine drinkers when it comes to Spanish red wines?
Is it its fruit aromas? Is it the successful marketing campaign worldwide? Is it the quality of the wine? The answer is yes. It is the combined factors that bring out the result benefiting both the Rioja trade and the wine lovers everywhere.
Rioja is more known for its red than white wines. After all, more than 75% of its production is red wine. The rest of the Rioja wines are rosés and white wines. One of the current trends is to make single vineyard Rioja from Tempranillo grape, the number one red grape in Spain.
Tempranillo in Spanish means “the little early one”, indicating its early-ripen quality in the vineyard. Because it ripens early in the hot climate, the grape naturally contains higher amount of sugar, which with fermentation becomes higher alcohol. All great wines begin in the vineyard. In superior winemaking of lesser cellar manipulation, the individual characteristics of the grape determine the style and quality of the wine. Thus the knowledge of the wine grape becomes very helpful for a wine lover. The other red wine grapes for Rioja are Garnacha (Grenache in French), Mazuelo and Graciano.
The modern Rioja expressions are the strawberry (from Tempranillo), a jammy quality, some vanilla, good concentration. The interplay of high alcohol and abundant fruit on the palate creates the impression of sweetness, but this is definitely not a sweet wine. Depending on the aging time in the oak, Riojas could be Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva. With the aged wines, the aroma and flavor would naturally start to include savory, meaty notes, in addition to the youthful fruit.
Does all the wine talk make you thirsty? If you have not tried any Spanish wine, it is time to get up and close with it, starting with a Rioja.
Bonny-Morgan Lin is a wine educator, wine coach with Wine and Spirits Certificate. Wine is her passion and profession. She offers wine education and coaching, and holds live wine tasting classes.