Rioja - The Region & Grape
Rioja takes its name from the Rioja region in Northern Spain. Bilbao is the local airport and with a one hour drive from the airport it’s an easy hop from Dublin if you want to explore this stunning region and the famous Tempranillo based wines that are grown here.
Winemaking in Rioja can be traced back to the 11th century BC with many of the vineyards being originally planted by the Romans. As today, during the Middle Ages, pilgrims to the shrine of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela passed through the region and the popularity of the wines spread.
Today the wines of Rioja are considered iconic “old-world” classics and indeed no-where else in the wine world comes close in terms of their expertise and growing conditions for Tempranillo. Apart from the dominance of the Tempranillo grape, the use of oak is one of the key factors that determines wine style and wine quality of Rioja maybe why we love these wines so much.
Rioja - Oak or Not
The style of wines made in Rioja are defined by climate, grape variety and by whether the wine is aged in oak or not, how long it is aged in oak and then how long it is bottle aged.
For the red wines, these are the legal definitions which apply although many wineries extend the ageing depending on the house style and vintage.
JOVEN: Meaning 'Young' in Spanish. These are the lightest and fruitiest wines. They will be rarely be aged in oak, and if they are it will be for a very short period. They are meant for early drinking and can be enjoyed lightly chilled.
CRIANZA: The wine must spend a minimum of 1 year in oak barrel followed by 1 year in bottle. The winery can leave the wine in oak or bottle for longer than these minimums.
RESERVA: The wine must be aged for a minimum of 3 years between oak and bottle. As with Crianza, at least 1 year of which must be in oak barrel. Many traditional winemakers will age in oak for longer than this minimum.
GRAN RESERVA: This is the longest aged of all Rioja and will be made with a winery's best grapes, often only in the best vintages. The wine must spend at least 2 years in oak barrel and a further 3 years ageing in bottle.
Try our brand new Rioja...
From the well-known Monte Real Bodegas and made in limited quantities to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the venerable Bodegas Riojanas, this is one of the best Rioja Reservas we have tasted. Made solely with the Tempranillo grape variety from premium Cenicero vineyards this wine is aged 26 months in American oak barrels. Elegant and harmonious on the nose with fine aromas of dark fruit and vanilla. The palate offers good fruit structure, fine acidity and polished tannins. A very balanced wine with a persistent finish.
Best Rioja Reserva Food Match
Rioja is a versatile wine but for an easy but impressive supper serve a Rioja Reserva with tasty tapas.
Please note: All prices correct at time of publication. For the most up to date prices please contact your local store or online www.obrienswine.ie