The Ebro river, running from the Cantabrian Montains towards the catalan coast, is the birthplace of Spain’s top wine producing area; Rioja. This is one of the only two regions to achieve DOCa (Denominacion de Origen Calificada) in the country. Two other regions along the river have recenlty been noticed due to the increasing quality of their wines; Navarra located North of Rioja and Campo de Borja further east in Aragon.
Rioja’s regions and grape varieties
Rioja lies in northern Spain, along the river Ebro, protected to the north by the Cantabrian Mountains. There are three main regions, Baja Rioja the warmest which lies down river south of Logrono, Alta Rioja, a cool region which lies to the west, at a high elevation, near Haro, and Alavesa, also a cool district near Haro. The last two hae the reputation of producing some of the best quality grapes in Rioja. Although this is predominantly red wine country using mostly Tempranillo but also some Garnacha and Mazuelo, many growers produce white wine as well, made from Viura (Macabeo). Most of the large Bodegas buy in grapes, but some of the smaller producers run their estates along the lines of a French Château, growing their own fruit. View our range.
There are several styles of Rioja, a basic level which has little or no wood ageing; Crianza, which spends a year in oak and then one year in bottle; Reserva, one year in oak and the two years in bottle; and Gran Reserva, two years in oak and then three more in bottle before being sold.
This large Spanish DO starts just to the north-east of Rioja and is sandwiched between the River Ebro to the south and the foothills of the Pyrenees to the north. The region is divided into five sub regions of which the most important, in terms of production, is Ribera Baja. Traditionally, this was an area for Garnacha and Tempranillo, but now increasingly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are being cultivated with excellent results. As with Rioja, much of the red wine spends some time in oak. White wines are in the minority, but they are gaining a reputation for quality. The main white varieties are Viura, Garnacha Blanca, Chardonnay and Malvasia. View our range.
Campo de Borja
A small up and coming area, south east of Navarra between the Ebro valley and the mountains. The climate is continental with some Mediterranean influence. Red wines are made mostly from Tempranillo and Garnacha, but also Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Reds are warm and easy with plenty of ripe fruit. There are a few whites produced from Macabeo (Viura) and Muscatel. There is an influential co-operative system here which has done much to develop the region as a whole. View our range.
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