La Rioja, a special region

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We are situated in a unique environment. Producing wines in the Qualified Designation of Origin (DOCa) Rioja entails a commitment to quality and enormous respect for its years of tradition and prestige. La Rioja is a symbol of Spanish gastronomic culture and we seek to keep it that way.

La Rioja is a unique region for wine production.

In terms of geographical location, few wine-growing areas are on a par with La Rioja. Encompassing the uppermost part of the River Ebro, the region benefits from the mild climate of northern Spain. This means abundant sunshine, sufficient rainwater and a variety of climates and soils, which allows us to produce diverse, complex wines that are always true to their terroir.

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La Rioja is divided into three main sub-regions:

Rioja Alavesa

Situated in the north-western part of the region, the Rioja Alavesa is part of the Basque Country, where the Atlantic climate prevails.
In this sub-region, vineyards are planted at altitudes of up to 800 m above sea level. They are normally divided into small plots and planted on slopes or terraces in calcareous soil. The result is elegant, fine wines.

Rioja Alta

To the west of Logroño, on the northern bank of the River Ebro, these vineyards are located at between 500 and 800 m. Their soil is usually a mixture of clay and limestone, with a high iron content in some areas. Like the Rioja Alavesa, there is a clear Atlantic influence on the climate. This is the heart of La Rioja, where its first wineries began. It is also home to Uruñuela, where Bodegas Patrocinio is based.

Rioja Baja

To the east of Logroño, the vineyards of Rioja Baja mainly run alongside the Ebro.
The climate here is more extreme and there is much less rain. Garnacha and Graciano are the main grapes, which are able to fully mature in this sub-region, thus developing flavours of black fruits, tannin and acidity to complement the Tempranillo grape.

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Making History…

1102. Just before the Crusaders occupied Tripoli, King Sancho of Navarre legally recognised Rioja wines.

1650. Diego Velázquez most likely drank Rioja wines while painting Las Meninas. In the same year, a document was signed that exists to this day, protecting and guaranteeing the quality of Rioja wines. A century before, grapes from other regions were still not allowed to be used in the production of Rioja wines and they had to be transported in wineskins marked with a seal of identification.

1787. At a time when the French Revolution was brewing, in La Rioja, the Royal Board of Harvesters of Rioja was being created. This was a highly professional organisation for the time that was already promoting research, improving vineyard practices and facilitating trade.

1850s. While Charles Darwin was publishing The Origin of Species and David Copperfield was making its debut, a number of pioneers travelled to the La Rioja region, bringing with them new oenological techniques from Bordeaux which revolutionised Rioja wines forever. Phylloxera silently spread across Europe, simultaneously devastating French vineyards and paving the way for Rioja wines. At this time, a significant railway network was established that boosted the wine market and Rioja began specialising in aged wines, following the Bordeaux model. This model endures to the present day and is the most typical of Rioja wines.

1925. The roaring 20s saw the issuance of a royal order that decreed the creation of a regulatory council, which was established in 1953. From this decade onwards, Rioja wines were protected as a Designation of Origin.

1991.In this year, Rioja became the only “Qualified Designation of Origin” (DOCa) in Spain – a classification which imposes the strictest regulations and highest standards on wines in the region.

Qualified Designation of Origin (DOCa)

The European Union recognises certain products for their unique characteristics, which are closely linked to their geographical area of origin. These products are safeguarded by a “Protected Designation of Origin” (PDO), guaranteeing the quality and origin of the products.
Rioja wines are recognised as a PDO and in our country are also granted the specific sub-classification “Qualified Designation of Origin”, reserved for wines that fit specific requirements.
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Classification of wines: Joven, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva

Within the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin, red wines account for 75% of production. The rest are white and rosé wines, which are ever increasing in number.
It is estimated that there are approximately 1.3 million barrels in La Rioja – the largest collection of barrels in the world. Oak is an unmistakeable characteristic of our wines, which are classified according to the time they have spent in a barrel. The wine will have highly distinct flavours and aromas depending on its classification.

Joven

Literally meaning “young” in Spanish, this category guarantees the origin and vintage of the wine. These are usually wines less than two years old that have retained their fresh, fruity aromas. Other wines that do not fit into the Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva categories may also be included in this category – despite potentially having undergone some degree of ageing – if they do not exactly correspond to the Regulatory Council’s requirements.

Crianza

This classification corresponds to wines that are at least two years old and have spent a minimum of one year in an oak barrel. For white wines, the minimum barrel-ageing period is six months. These wines start to develop aromas derived from their time in the barrel: spicy and smoky aromas are combined with the fruity aromas.

Reserva

This category corresponds to very select wines with a minimum ageing period in oak barrels and bottles of three years, at least one of which must be in a barrel. The ageing period specified for white wines is two years, during which time they must have spent a minimum of six months in a barrel. The resulting wines are extremely complex with a wide variety of aromas, smoky oak being the most noteworthy.

Gran Reserva

This category is reserved for wines from exceptional vintages that have been aged in an oak barrel for a minimum of two years and in a bottle for three years. For white wines, the ageing period is four years, with a minimum of six months in a barrel. These are the legendary wines of La Rioja: silky and incredibly complex, with brick-red and brownish hues.


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