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Rioja

Rioja is without a doubt Spain’s most renowned classic wine growing area. It was named after the Oja River (“Río”) and established its excellent reputation over 150 years ago. It is divided into three sub-regions – Rioja Alta, the most western area that is considered to be one of the two most qualitative; Rioja Alavesa, which lies due north of Rioja Alta and the only one in Spain’s Basque area; and Rioja Baja, the most southern sub-zone which is flatter, warmer and produces many less expensive bottlings which tend to focus on fruit rather than refinement. Like neighbouring regions – Ribera del Duero and Toro – Rioja’s main grape is Tempranillo, which is supported by Garnacha (Grenache), Mazuelo (Carignan) and Graciano (Bovale Sardo). However, Rioja’s wines tend to be lacier and more light to the touch. While American oak has been used for many years for its wines’ ageing, a notable amount of producers have introduced French oak, making their wines more restrained and less spicy. In addition to their red wines, the region also produces white Rioja from Viura, Malvasia Riojana and Garnacha Blanca. ...

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