Spanish Rioja Wines
In today's very competitive wine industry, Spanish Rioja wines are not only good value, but they are also of exceptional quality. Whether you prefer the crispness and refreshing acidity and minerals that make up the character of the white and rosé wines or the fruitiness and intense taste of the red wines, there are many fantastic wines from Spain that will cater to all tastes. However, there are many different wine-producing regions of Spain. The most famous region is the Rioja region, which gained fame many years before many of the more modern day regions. If you look in any good wine shop, you'll probably find a few very good Rioja wines that will compliment many Spanish dishes.
So what makes Rioja wines so popular among the Spanish red wine enthusiasts? Some might point to the large and successful international marketing campaigns, while others might say it is the nice fruity aromas. No matter what the reason, the overall quality of the wine is the main factor that sets them apart from red wines produced in other regions in other countries.
The Rioja region is far more renown for the red wines that are produced there than all the other types of produced. Approximately 75% of the wine produced in the region is a red variety, with the rest being whites and roses. The main trend today is producing a single vineyard Rioja wine from the main grape in Spain, which is the Tempranillo grape variety.
When translated into English, 'Tempranillo' means 'the little early one', which is due to the fact that this variety tends to ripen fairly early. Because of this early ripening, particularly in the warmer regions, the grapes tend to have a higher sugar content. This leads to a higher alcohol content during the fermentation phase. However, this alone does not make for a great wine! A great wine only begins in the vineyard. It is the superior wine knowledge of the winemaker and the right cellar manipulation that transforms it. Only when these are applied does the true character of the Rioja wine become apparent, but getting the grape is the first step. There are, however, other varieties of grapes used in the region, such as the Mazuelo, Graciano and the Garnacha (called the Grenache in France)
The dominant taste of Rioja wines tends to resemble a strawberry flavour, with a quality similar to that of a jam, with a hint of vanilla as well. Although it may seem to be a sweet wine due to the high alcohol mixing with the fruity palates, is id not considered to be a sweet wine. Depending on the amount of time the wine spends in oak barrels, the varieties of Rioja can be either Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva. The Crianza is the cheapest variety (ie US $5 - $10) and is generally considered to be a table variety. It is aged for a year in the barrel and then for two more years in the bottle. The Reserva is the mid-quality variety, although it is aged for a similar length of time as the Crianza variety. This variety tends to be in the US $ 10- $15 range. The Grande Reserva is the highest quality of the Rioja wines. It is aged for two years in the barrel and then for another three years in the bottle. The price tends to be a minimum of $20 a bottle, but is not always offered each year. Therefore, if you can find some of this, it is always best to keep a few bottles on hand for that special occasion!
As with most wines that are aged, the character will change. With the Rioja wines that are aged, the flavour and aromas would start to take on a more meaty and savoury character that will combine with the original fruity flavours to produce an outstanding wine.
Today, Spanish wines are enjoyed throughout the world. They are of exceptional quality and have generated a large fan base among red wine drinkers. For these red wines, the wines produced in the Rioja wine region are extremely popular and will make a fine and worthy addition to any wine collection. Why not grab a nice Spanish Rioja wine today !