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Majestic Guides: The Best Rioja Wines and Wineries to Drink At Home

Category: Majestic Guides

The Best Rioja Wines And Wineries To Drink At Home

In Short:
Wines from the Spanish region of Rioja come in a range of styles, though the aged reds are most famous.

Where is Rioja and what is it famous for?

Rioja is fringed by mountains and about 120km inland from the coastal city of Bilbao. It's Spain’s most famous wine region. And for good reason: its long-aged red wines, made primarily from Tempranillo grapes, are some of the finest in the world.

Depending on how long the red wine is aged for, it will be labelled differently.

  • Fresh and fruity generic 'Rioja' wines have no minimum requirement.
  • Crianza must be aged for two years, with at least a year in barrels.
  • Reserva wines have to be aged for three years, with at least a year in barrels and six months in the bottle.
  • Gran Reserva wines are top-quality bottles aged for at least five years. This must comprise of at least two years in barrels and two years in the bottle.

The region also makes delicious rosé and white wines. Its Gran Reserva whites, especially, are highly sought-after among connoisseurs. To keep things simple, for now, we'll stick to the reds. These are some of our favourite producers:

Viña Alarde

Viña Alarde is an award-winning bodega, owned by Marqués de la Concordia – a collection of premium wineries. The established producer brings its wealth of expertise to its production of reds, which come in age declarations ranging all the way up to prestigious Gran Reserva.

Rested for long periods in oak barrels – and with real aging potential – Gran Reserva wines are Rioja’s most prestigious, and they often come with a punchy price tag to match. But Viña Alarde’s is exceptional value. Despite being aged since 2013, the fresh and smooth flavours of cherry, strawberry and spice are a fraction of the usual asking price. Pair it with roasted red meats or game.

See more here – Viña Alarde Rioja Gran Reserva

Viña Pomal

While it bottled its first wine back in 1904, Viña Pomal has roots in Rioja stretching back to 1859, when it was founded by a French winemaker. And the bodega has had a loyal, prestigious following for nearly as long: it was even the official supplier of wine to the Spanish royal family. Today it still makes superb traditional-style Rioja wines from its 120 hectares of vines, some of which were planted back in the 1970s.

Viña Pomal’s reds are exactly what you’re looking for in traditional Rioja. Its Reserva, in particular, is an excellent example, bursting with blackberry and raspberry fruit and velvety tannins. You won’t find a better match for many Spanish dishes, including charcuterie.

You can find it here – Rioja Reserva Viña Pomal

Bodegas Roda

Bodegas Roda is one of Rioja’s most forward-thinking producers. It shows off a modern side to the lauded region – its wines are light on oak influence and distinctly fruity, with each bottling reflecting its terroir and vintage. Sustainable practices are used in the vineyards where possible, and every year a team of 40 people hand-pick the grapes at harvest.

For a prime example of Roda’s characteristic silky style, try the Reserva 2016. Its flavours of black fruit, tobacco and chocolate boast a deliciously long finish. It gets better with every sip
and will pair perfectly with seared sirloin steak.

Get it here – Bodegas Roda Rioja Reserva

Rioja wines come in a variety of styles, and just by looking at the label you can get an idea of how much complexity or aged character to expect. Whichever style you choose – even lesser-known rosé or white – Rioja is a wonderful match for food.