Rioja - Peru
Rioja is a wine from a region named after
the Rio Oja in Spain, a tributary of the Ebro. It is made from grapes
grown in the provinces of La Rioja, Southern Álava or Navarre. La Rioja
is further subdivided into three zones (in rising order of warmth) Rioja
Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja. Rioja Alta is the highest of these
zones and is said to produce the best wine. Many wines have
traditionally blended fruit from all 3 regions though there is a slow
growth in single zone wines.
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The wine is a blend of various grape varieties, and can be either red,
white or rosado (rose). In red wines, the best-known variety used is
Tempranillo. Other grapes used include Garnacha Tinta, Graciano, and
Mazuelo. One wine maker, Marques de Riscal is permitted to grow and use
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot by special dispensation. Other wineries
also have experimental plantings of these varietals.Peru
Malvasia, Garnacha Blanca and Viura (known alternately as Macabeo) are
used in the production of Rioja Blanco (white Rioja).
Rioja red wines are classified into four categories. The first, simply
labeled "Rioja", is the youngest, spending less than a year in an oak
aging barrel. A "crianza" is wine aged for at least two years, at least
one of which was in oak. "Rioja Reserva" is aged for at least three
years, of which at least one year is in oak. Finally, "Rioja Gran
Reserva" wines have been aged at least two years in oak and three years
in bottle. Reserva and Gran Reserva wines are not necessarily produced
each year. Also produced are wines in a semi-crianza style, those that
have had a couple of months oak influence but not enough to be called a
full crianza. According to the official classification, recent excellent
vintages were 1982, 1994, 1995, 2001 and 2004.
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Wine has been produced in the region since the Roman era of Hispania
Tarraconensis. Rioja’s wine industry started within the monasteries
founded to serve pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago.
In 1925, Rioja was the first to be granted Denominacion de Origen
status; in 1991, the appellation was promoted to a Denominacion de
Origen Calificada due to its consistent quality.
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