One of the most famous wine regions in the world, and arguably the UK's favourite. The region has produced wines that have a venerable history, stellar ageing ability and a surprising capacity for innovation .
The main grapes here are Tempranillo, Garnacha (Grenache), Mazuelo and Graciano for the reds and Viura, Garnacha Blanca, Malvasia and Tempranillo Blanco for the Whites.
Rioja’s traditional classification has 4 categories each denoting mandatory ageing requirements
Cosecha – a pale green logo on the back label – denotes a younger wine that may have no time at all in oak or more likeley just a few months in barrel meaning it won’t qualify as a Crianza
Crianza – a bright red logo on the back label -denotes a wine which must be aged for a minimum of 12 months in oak and a further 12 months in bottle before release
Reserva – a burgundy coloured logo on the back label -denotes a wine which must have a minimum of 3 years ageing of which I year minimum must be in oak before release
Gran Reserva – Usually only made in great vintages and with the best grapes -this has a navy blue logo on the back label denoting minimum ageing of 5 years of which 2 years minimum must be in oak .
In practice many of the best traditional producers regularly exceed these minimums.
Read what our Rioja Expert has to say here