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All about rioja blend
What is Rioja wine?
Rioja blend wine has a similar body and tannin content as cabernet sauvignon, but it's more fruity. Some aged varieties will remind you of Bordeaux blends with their flavor profiles. However, to be a true Rioja red blend, a wine must come from specific regions in northern Spain: La Rioja, Navarre and Alava. To create this wine, producers use several grape varieties such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo. Although these names sound exotic, they're actually very common grapes in the area.
Traditional Rioja ages in oak barrels to deliver a full flavor, with a pleasant level of acidity and elegant notes of coffee and spices. Modern Rioja sometimes is not ready to drink straight from the bottle, so pour it into a decanter to enjoy its fruity flavor.
Types of Rioja
Let's explore the four Rioja red wine ratings. The youngest one is Rioja, and it only ages for a few months in oak barrels. Crianza wine must age for at least one year in oak barrels, followed by a few months in the bottle. Reserva derives from the best grapes in the harvest, and it ages for three years. Reserva wines must rest for at least one year in oak barrels, with the remaining amount of time spent in the bottle.
Special Gran Reserva varieties aren't available every year, but only from years when the winemakers harvest excellent quality grapes. They age for at least two years in oak barrels and three years in the bottle.
You'll notice that Crianza and Reserva versions of Rioja wine are pretty affordable, so they're moderate options in comparison to other red wines with similar flavor profiles.