Several years ago Tiedemann Wines started distributing Spanish Wines. Most of the reds are a Tempranillo varietal. Some are blends with a variety of grapes. Tempranillo is a popular grape that is grown worldwide but its homeland is Spain. If you like big structured wines with high tannins such as Cabernet Sauvignon and the fruitiness of wines such as Grenache, Pinot Noir, etc. then you will like the Tempranillo or Tempranillo-blended wines.
The most famous region for Tempranillo is Rioja. Rioja is located in North Central Spain, south of the boarder of Spain and France. The official name for the area is DOCa Rioja and it has three main regions: La Rioja, Navarra and in the province of Álava. It is further divided into three sub regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. There are approximately 153,000 acres of grapes and 16,413 vineyards.
There are four classifications of Rioja wines and we’ll discuss them later in the article. How are the Rioja wines classified? One of the main qualifications is between the different styles in oak aging. In the case of Rioja wines, the more oak, the higher the quality level.
The Rioja region has a wine control board called the Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja. The board inspects the quality of producers to ensure the consistency of Rioja wines. There are four classifications of wines in the Rioja region. They are Rioja, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Let us explore each of these classifications.
This is a very basic wine. It is aged a short time in oak, perhaps only a few months. It is then bottled and sold. This wine will taste really ripe because the wine is so young.
For a Rioja wine to be labeled Crianza it must be in oak barrels for at least a year, if not longer. Once it is bottled it must age another few months in the bottle before it can be sold. This is the most popular in the United States because of its pricing which is typically less than $20.00 a bottle.
The wines classified as Reserva are serious tasting Rioja wines. These wines are only produced from the best vintages. Reserva wines are aged in oak for at least a year and aged in the bottle for up to more two years. They are often aged longer than the minimum of three years and are made from selected grapes.
Gran Reserva wines select only from exceptional vintages and are aged for a minimum of five years: at least two years in oak and three years in the bottle. This wine has the most tannin structure and has the potential to age very well. Since this wine comes from the best grapes and is aged as long as it needs, most of the newly released Gran Reserva wines are around 10 years old or older. When they become available these wines can cellar for up to 30 years.
Rioja wines pair well with most foods. This wine goes best with savory flavors like red meats, pasta, lamb, grilled foods and strong cheeses. These types of food will stand up to the strength of the wine.
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- November 7th – International Merlot Day
- November 12th – International Tempranillo Day
- November 15th – International Zinfandel Day
- December 16th – National Wine Club Day
- December 20th – National Sangria Day
- December 31st – National Champagne Day