Rioja is a Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) wine region in northeast Spain. Although some white and rosé wines are produced here, the region is most famous for its red Tempranillo-led blends. This full-bodied wine has lots of velvety tannins and a rich flavour, combining juicy dark fruits with soft spice from oak-ageing.
Rioja wine is aged in American oak barrels, which soften the strong tannins and add characteristic flavours of vanilla. There are four levels of Rioja. The most prestigious is Gran Reserva, which has to age for five years before release: at least two years in oak and two years in bottle.
This is followed by Reserva, aged for three years (at least one year in oak, and six months in bottle) and Crianza which ages for two years (one year in oak minimum). Finally, there's Joven Rioja which has no ageing requirements.
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