Rules of Rioja

By Ian Blackburn

Rioja is the most important and known as Spain’s Finest Wine Region.
In the early days of my wine career, I sold wine for a living and had “one” wine from Spain to sell... “one” - A Rioja. That was all we had… it was the Ambassador wine from Spains most well recognized region.  Flash forward 30 years later and Rioja is still the Ambassador region and its finest wine region as well.

Grapes: Most people think of RIOJA as Tempranillo, and for the most part they would be correct, but there are other grapes involved.  Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo, Maturana Tinta and for the White wines: Viura, Malvasía, Garnacha Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco, Maturana Blanca, Turruntés, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo.

Why I like Rioja Wine: Rioja is a great discovery, almost every time I take it out to dinner with friends!  My guests say “wow, I have never had a wine like this!” Rioja’s are generous, wise, and authentic expressions, that are literally bottled history! There is a style that is recognizably Rioja, perfect for food and the wines are built to age in your cellar and accompany life great moments.  I was born in 1968 and I have probably celebrated my birthday more times than not with a RIOJA from 1968. - Ian Blackburn  PS.  Most of us where born in a great Rioja vintage - that is just a little inside tip from me to you.

Each bottle of wine that comes from the region of Rioja is clearly marked with a D.O.Ca. trust seal. Each seal ensures adherence to the strict wine and aging qualifications - as well as the quality standards required by the D.O.Ca. - from grape growing through to bottling. More about DOCa Here.

Once called Joven, now “Cosecha” which translates to “harvest”
Considered "Young wine with minimal aging and celebrate "fresh and fruity” 
Another possible Cosecha is a signature wine outside of traditional classification system - they can also wear the Cosecha title if recognized by the Region. 

Always among the best values in wine. Defined:  Wines which are at least in their third year, having spent a minimum of one year in oak barrels.
Reds are Aged 1+ years in barrel, Blanco and Rosado/rosé - 6 months in barrel.

This is serious wine from great sites, and undergoes “aging” before released; Aging provides softer tannins and luscious developed flavors.  
Defined for Reds as aged 3+ years with at least 1 year in barrel and 6 months in bottle and for the Blanco and Rosé/Rosado; aged 2+ years with at least 6 months in barrel.

Not typically made every year, more of a statement wine that showcases a confidence in the quality to represent the brand for years to come.
Reds are defined as Aged 5+ years with at least 2 years in barrel and 2 years in bottle, while Blanco and Rosado/rosé are aged 4+ years with at least 6 months in barrel.

Click here to watch History of Rioja
Additional reads here and here

To learn more and experience Rioja, Join me on my trip to Spain in November 2023!
Click here to learn more.