The region with the highest reputation in Spain. Wine was produced here even before the Romans occupied the country. The knowledge of the area and how to bring out the best in the wines produced there, combined with a consistent quality control, makes Rioja synonymous with quality.
The Rioja region is situated along the river Ebro. A tributary to the Ebro is Rio Oja, lending its name to the surrounding region. The wine region is divided in three subsections: Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta, and Rioja Baja. The two rivers create a humid, temperate, continental climate, with sparse but sufficient rainfall, evenly distributed throughout the year. The perfect conditions for growing grapes.
The most produced wine here is red, from the most used grape, the Tempranillo. Also worth mentioning is the dark blue Garnacha grape. For white wines, the Viura grape is popular.
The three most important classifications within the Rioja for red wines are Crianza, meaning a wine will have had two years’ worth of maturation, one of which in oak barrels; Reserva, meaning three years’ maturation, with at least one year in virgin oak barrels; and Gran Reserva, which has the wines mature in oak barrels for at least two years, and in the bottle for three years at least.