Rioja may be Spain’s oldest DOCa region but it is anything but out-of-date when it comes to producing wines of interest. From single varietals to modern and contemporary reds, many winemakers are producing an increasing number of unusual styles and flaunting the indigenous varietals of the region. Last week, Wines from Rioja headed off on a jet plane with a group of sommeliers and Imbibe Magazine to investigate what is happening in the world of Rioja wine. Here are our highlights…
From left to right, Clinton Cawood (Imbibe Magazine), Romain Bourger (The Vineyard at Stockcross), Carmen Quemada (Consejo Regulador), Alvaro Prieto (Ametsa with Arzak Instruction), William Wilson (The Chesterfield, Mayfair), Vanessa Cinti (CUT at 45 Park Lane), Maurizio Palomba (Sushi Samba/Duck & Waffle), Jen Gevaux (Phipps Relations – Wines from Rioja)
The group tastes a 2014 tank sample Rioja Rosado months before it is due to be bottled for release.
Tempranillo may be the varietal most commonly associated with Rioja but Graciano and Garnacha are now emerging from the shadows and are keen to share the limelight as single varietals. This 100% Garnacha was enjoyed alongside a selection of light tapas dishes.
Carlos Echapresto, Head Sommelier at Venta Moncalvillo pours a 1970 vintage Rioja Reserva in his epic wine cellar.
Rioja has the highest concentration of barrels of any wine region in the world and some of the region’s wines spend many years in oak to produce some of the world’s finest wines. Above, thousands of barrels rest peacefully underground to produce mellow, delicious reds.
Rioja may be well known for its red wines but the region also produces a range of white and rosé wines which range in style from fresh and un-oaked to barrel fermented with a capacity for extended ageing.
If there’s one thing to keep in mind when thinking about Rioja, it’s that there is no such thing as ‘a Rioja’, but plenty of styles to discover!