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The Wines of Rioja Explained by Rioja Regional Ambassador

September 19 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Spain is a diverse country in the varietals grown, the soil types, the climate styles, and the wines. In the eastern region where Catalyunia lies, the climate is warm and Mediterranean. In the central region of Spain, known as the Meseta Central, the region is surrounded by mountains, creating a hot continental climate where in winter, the temperatures drop below freezing and in the summer, it roasts so hot, the grapes are vulnerable to sunburn. Heat and drought are the two largest threats to vines in Spain, with the exception of the north-western region. The vines are typically bush trained and spaced out to allow each vine to take up as much space as needed to penetrate further into the ground in search of water. In the north-east, close to the Pyrenees, sits Rioja along with its neighbor, Navarra. Rioja is split into three distinct sub-regions with the northern section, Rioja Alavesa, producing the lightest wines of the district. Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja produce the more robust styles of wine. For the reds, Tempranillo dominates here and is often blended with Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano. Apart from the classic Tempranillo signature, Rioja is also known for oak ageing. Traditionally, the region would use American oak, but today they are steering to more subtle European oaks, such as French and Austrian. For the whites, though a total of 8 varieties are approved for use in Rioja, as per the region’s regulatory body, Viura is the most widely planted, and therefore, the most internationally recognized variety. Today, the style of Viura is fresh, bright, and not the oxidative style once found coming from the region.

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