La Rioja is an autonomous community of Spain, located in the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula. Today very famous for the production of high quality wines, until the mid-nineteenth century presented products known only locally. It is with the construction of the railway that its wines began to be appreciated in every part of the world. In particular, French entrepreneurs and oenologists allowed themselves to be conquered by the excellent quality of the Spanish grapes and introduced into the area typical processing of the French winemaking tradition, such as the famous barriques of Bordeaux.
The 3 areas that make up the Rioja, Alta, Baja and Alavesa, give rise to different wines, obtained in some cases also through exclusive mix of grapes coming from all 3 areas. While the wines of the Rioja Baja have higher alcohol levels and less particularity, those from the other 2 areas have a decidedly original character, the result of a cooler climate, influenced by precious ocean currents. The particular composition of the soil, which combines in a perfect balance clays, sand and limestone, is also influencing the quality of the wines.
Overall, the area is of primary importance for the production of wines, and is the only one in all of Spain to boast DOC production. Classified in categories ranging from Joven to Gran Reserva, the most common wines are reds, whose main grape varieties are Tempranillo and Garnacha, followed by grapes Graciano. The production of whites sees the predominance of the Garnacha Bianca, the Viura and the Malvasia.
Information about Rioja
|Climate and soil
||The region has a continental climate, but Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa are influenced by the winds from the Atlantic, cool in autumn and mild summers, and here the Tempranillo has been very well-balanced, developing a good fruit, color and aroma. . Rioja Baja has a much more Mediterranean climate with a scorching sun and here it is mainly Garnacha that gives soft wines and alcohol. The Pyrenees protect the whole area from the cold winds of the north, although the winters can become rather stiff and foggy. The land, throughout the district, is calcareous. In Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa we find limestone, with a small part of slate, and in Rioja Baja, a layer of ferrous clay, silt and sand on a limestone rock.
||Rioja extends along the banks of the Ebro river, at the foot of the Pyrenees. The district, which is about 50 km wide and 100 km long, takes its name from a tributary of the Ebro, the Rio Oja. Geographically, the district is divided into three sub-areas: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja. Phylloxera vastatrix, the devastating aphid, played a decisive role in the quality of Rioja wines. When Bordeaux was invaded by phylloxera, they could not bring cuttings of their own vines, but what they could bring was all their knowledge and experience, with great advantage for the viticulture of the Rioja. The Bordeaux wine-making techniques are still used with fermentation in vats and aging in 225-liter barrels.
||The Tempranillo, tannic and vigorous, is the most important red grape of the Rioja. Many have compared it to the Pinot Noir of Burgundy because the Rioja wines, aged in wood, often have the same velvety character and aromas of oak reminiscent of the wine of Beaune. Garnacha Tinta is also an important component of Rioja's ointment. He lacks the color and tannin of the Tempranillo, but this vine, so suited to the warm climate, contributes with a high degree of alcohol that easily reaches, even at 15-16 ° C. The Mazuelo is one of the oldest vines in Rioja, but today it is grown less and less since it is easily infected with powdery mildew. In Rioja, it is appreciated for its deep color and it is forgiven to give, to wines a bit 'too rustic. Two vines that are almost disappearing, certainly because they produce much less than the Viura and for their sensitivity of botrytis and other diseases, are the Mavasia and the White Garnacha.
||La Rioja is the land of the Camino de Santiago, of travelers and exchanges, of relationships with peoples and regions, which absorb customs and give culture. And this is reflected in its gastronomy that, in addition to offering us the opportunity to taste excellent wines, has borrowed a lot from its neighbors and has done so sometimes adding a touch of exquisite simplicity. Simplicity and quality are characteristics present in the kitchen of the Rioja. The popular agricultural tradition offers cooking products of the earth such as vegetables, vegetables and legumes: peppers, garlic, onions, artichokes, asparagus, lettuce, chard, borage ... Who can visit La Rioja without tasting an excellent stew of pochas ( beans) or caparrones (red beans)? An almost unique and excellent way to eat beans, not completely dried, which retain all the flavor and absorb the quail or chorizo that accompany them. The pig, symbol of the Christian culture, has lived with the inhabitants of the Rioja since ever, both in the wild and tame, while the taste for the lamb was inherited from the Muslim presence in the peninsula. Both become the indisputable protagonists of this Spanish region, even if sometimes they have to share their fame with fish, white tuna, cod, cod, redfish and horse mackerel. The sweet morcilla and the Rioja chorizo are an example of the elaborations that are prepared in the sierra.