Wines from Rioja 2013

Rioja

Rioja is Spain’s most famous wine region. Located in Northern Spain and protected by mountains, the area has a superb climate for wine production. Divided into three zones (Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja), each having its own climate, topographical features and soil types, a wide variety of styles is possible.

Rioja is so much more than Tempranillo-based oaky reds. Indeed, many changes are afoot, since 2007 marked the year that the wine region was allowed to use nine new varieties of grapes. As a result, we can look forward to greater complexity and approachability in their white wines, in particular. Although I am a fan of traditional / historic styles, perhaps the heavily oaked whites of the past are just not suited to the majority of modern international palates.

Classifications

Wines from Rioja held a trade tasting in London on 9th October and I was particularly interested in the current state of play with Rioja Blanco, hence my bias on white wines. I deliberately sampled wines from producers less known to general UK consumers, as well as from some of the bigger names, so there are clear omissions from my list of recommendations below. Indeed, there are many other wines from the tasting that I could have mentioned, but I think this selection gives a metaphorical flavour of Rioja’s diverse styles. Price points were also important, as not everyone will want to spend over £30 on a bottle, so I only mention three superb wines in that category. It is worth noting that the best vintages from the last 25 years are 2011, 2010, 2005, 2004, 2001, 1995 and 1994.

Rioja wines
Grapes

White wines (100% Viura)

White wines (blends of Viura and Malvasia)

White wines (other)

Red wines (all Tempranillo blends)

Red wines (non-Tempranillo)