Spain - Rioja - Rioja DOCa

7 important questions on Spain - Rioja - Rioja DOCa

Where is Rioja DOCa located in Spain? Describe the climate and influences on the climate.

  • North of Spain, north east of Castilla y Léon
  • 100km long and 40 km broad
  • Along Ebro river, broad open valley towards the Mediterranean.
  • Protected by Sierra's, north and south, for Atlantic weather and warmer center of the country.
  • Far from the coast but east gets some Mediterranean influences.
  • Ebro, large river, has several tributaries with valleys with different aspects and soils.

What are the three zones of Rioja? What is the total size and type of trellising?

  1. Rioja Alavesa
  2. Rioja Alta
  3. Rioja Oriental (previously Baja)

  • 64.000 ha (50% increase since 1990s)
  • VSP, mechanisation - since Spain joined EU
  • Still considerable plantings of old bush vines (>100 years old).

What is the percentage of black grape varieties in Rioja? Which are these and what are the characteristics and current trends?

91% is black varieties
  • 88% is Tempranillo, dominant in most Rioja's; raspberry, black plum, m(+) tannins and acidity, reliable yields.
  • 8% Garnacha; suitable to drought (dry Oriental); ripe strawberry fruit, lower tannins and fuller body
  • 2% Graciano
  • 2% Mazuelo = carignan for high acidity
  • Maturana Tinta; Trousseau, tiny but increasing - purple, high acidity, fresh cranberry and blackberry

What are the white grape varieties in Rioja? What is the percentage planted?

9% planted
  • Viura; macabeo -70% of the white plantings; suits dry sites (late budding/ripening).
  • Tempranillo Blanco; white mutation 12% planted; high acidity, grapefruit, pineapple.
  • Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca; in oak matured blends for flavours and acidity
  • Verdejo and Sauvignon blanc; single or in blends with Viura. Inexpensive unoaked styles.

White wines of Rioja can be categorised in different styles. Which are these?

  • Inexpensive: unoaked, based on virus; neutral wines, acceptable to good
  • Mid-priced and premium; oaked style but more balanced and fresh. Viura main variety, sometimes blended. M+ body and acidity, citrus, smoky and nutty complexity. Good to very good.
  • Classic oxidative style, super premium; old bottlings - Castillo Ygay from Marqués de Murrieta and Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva from López de Heredia.

Approved in 2017 and published in 2018, Consejo Regulador de Rioja set new regulations to address geographical subzones and/or single vineyards. What label options are now available?

  1. Vino de Zona; the 3 Rioja zones. 15% of the grapes may come from outside the zone, but bordering the zone mentioned and for 10 consecutive years.
  2. Vino de Municipio: from the village or group of villages; 15% of the grapes may come from outside the Municipal, but bordering the named municipal mentioned and for 10 consecutive years. Vinification, ageing and bottling must take place in the named municipal.
  3. Viñedo Singular (single vineyard); all within the same winery. Owned for 10 years, vineyard min 35 years old. Yields set, hand harvest only.

Consejo Regulador also works on the marketing of Rioja, how? What are the producers initiatives?

  • CR: PR companies in local markets, tasting for trade and consumers.
  • Producers:
    • Bodegas Familiares, 40 small/medium sized producers
    • Rioja 'n Roll, small group first generation
    • Alava group; Basque country to break away from La Rioja

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