The extensive guide to the wine region of La Rioja. The premium wine growing region in the country of Spain has lot more to offer than just standard varietals and regular wine visits.
La Rioja is a world-renowned wine region in the northern part of Spain. It borders the Basque country and in the north and Iberian Peninsula in the south. The wines of Rioja are known for their gritty character and powerful intensity, much like the terroir of the region.
La Rioja is a province and autonomous community in northern Spain with a renowned local wine industry. Below the Cantabrian Mountains, vineyards occupy the Ebro valley and surround the old town of Haro. There, the summer festival features the messy Batalla de Vino (wine battle). Local wineries (bodegas) range from small, traditional cellars to major commercial producers.
Tempranillo, Viura and Garnacha are the main local grape varieties in Rioja that are known to produce splendid wines in both varietals as well as blends. The Rioja wine region is divided into three zones: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. Rioja Alta is known to produce wines in the style of the ‘old-world’. The Rioja Baja region produces deeper coloured wines higher in alcohol and Rioja Alavesa produces high acidity and fuller bodied wines.
La Rioja is set in beautiful countryside that dates back to medieval times and traces of its past can be seen in the fortress towns nestling on hills, enormous Gothic churches and ancient burial markers (dolmenes) that are scattered across the fields. Spain’s oldest D.O.C (Denomination de Origen) can be separated into three distinct sub regions that are clearly marked on any map of the Rioja wine region. These are the Rioja Alta, the Rioja Baja and the Rioja Alvesca.
The Rioja Alvesca, which belongs to the Basque country, and the Rioja Alta claim the region’s most prestigious bodegas and attract the most visitors – the Rioja Alvesca is home to 300 of the region’s 500 bodegas alone. Wine routes can be taken across both of these sub-regions, visiting picturesque villages, a collection of large commercial and small boutique wineries as well as family run country inns serving delicious, rustic food.
Wine tours will see you tasting wines sourced from all over the Rioja wine region in Spain and visiting vineyards and cellars where the simple grapes are magically converted into sumptuous wines.
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