A favourite in a lot of households; these wines have the body, silkiness and flavours to seduce you.
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What you need to know
Rioja is made in the beautiful Rioja region in the northern part of Spain, from a blend of principally Tempranillo grapes.
The wines are well known for the use of oak and trademark vanilla style that it imparts to the otherwise full bodied and fruity red.
Traditionally the wines were aged for such a long time that they lost a lot of flavour and freshness, resulting in a wine that tasted of nothing but oak.
There is now a much more modern style of winemaking which focuses on enhancing the fresh berry flavours and combining it with some oak, these are much easier to drink and eat with.
Rioja has a system of classifying wines which dictates how old they are and how much oak ageing they have undergone; Joven, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. The Joven being the fruitiest with no or little ageing and the Gran Reserva having spent at least 2 years in oak barrels and 3 more in the bottle after creating a complex layered wine.
Top Tip – Try and find wines from the Alvesa or Rioja Alta areas which tend to be more sophisticated.
This is made by a great winemaking house in Rioja and it really doesn't disappoint. It's big and bold, with lovely deep flavours, lots of spice and a whiff of smoky vanilla. What I really like is the refreshing crispness of the fruit which means you don't get a heavy finish, instead you're left just wanting more. A definite partner for chunky meat dishes like duck and lamb.