Rioja, more than wine!

I have always been a huge fan of the Spanish culture. When I was little we spent summer holidays in an authentic Spanish village, I remember my parents always got THAT Spanish wine called RIOJA! Just recently my husband and I went on a trip to Barcelona. let me tell you; it wasn’t easy leaving this marvellous city. Glad that Rioja invited me to their event and made leaving Barcelona a little bit easier.

The event was happening in a private loft in Zurich. It was co-hosted by the gorgeous Edwin Uncorked who led the wine tasting. how to describe Edwin? She’s a natural. She loves wine and is absolutely crazy about it. Edwin works for the family business Weinkellerei Aarau and as a professional blogger. She reminded me a bit of Amy Adams in the movie Julia and Julia, just passionate about wine (instead of cooking). In case you are looking for a slightly different wine tasting (fun included) - book her!!

And now to the wine side of life. Rioja! It’s wine. But did you know that it’s actually a whole region in Spain?
There are more than 16’000 (61’000 hectares) vineyards and 600 vineries in Rioja. Rioja lies along the famous Camino de Santiago. The Romans set the foundation for the contemporary wine-growing.
At the end of the 19. the wine pest destroyed the vineyards of Bordeaux, that’s when the French came to Rioja, where they found an equal replacement.
The region of Rioja is divided into three zones: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa.
Many wines have traditionally blended fruit from all three all three regions, though there is a slow growth in single-zone wines.
In the western part (Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa) the grapes not only ripen 700 meters above the sea, but also in the sphere of influence of the chilly Atlantic sea. This enables cultivation of distinctly well structured, elegant wines.
In the eastern part of the region (Rioja Baja), where the vineyards are lower and the influence of the mediterranean climate is stronger, the wines show more fullness and the character is more fruity.

Rioja offers very individual and characteristic wines.

The biggest part of the hectares is taken by the black grape Tempranillo (around 39’000 hectares). In a traditional Rioja tempranillo is mostly the leading grape sort which gets specially supplemented by other grapes like Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano and also Mazuelo (Cardignan).

Talking wine:

  • 90 % of the Rioja production are red wine

  • Anual Rioja wine production: 300 Million litres

  • amount of export: 30 %

It takes time!
Rioja sets the standards high and only brings perfectly mature wines to the market.
The wines are divided into three stages of maturity:

Crinzana
The wines come to the market after with a ripeness of a minimum of two years.
Crinzanas must mature in the oak barrel for at least 12 month and then ripen further in the bottle.

Reserve
Reserves are selected wines from good years and come to the market with a minimum of three years. The maturing in the oak barrel also conducts one year.

Gran Reserva
Tor the highest quality level in the classic predicate pyramid selected wines are elaborated for at least five (!) before entering the market (at least two years in the oak barrel).

We tasted 10 (!) different Rioja wines that night. The spectrum was very wide. In mind I had pretty heavy Rioja wines (which my parents like to drink). The lighter, elegant Rioja wines absolutely convinced me. I also liked the white wine, which we got as welcome drink a lot.
When reading the article about Rioja in the Marmite booklet it makes me really want to visit that region in Spain.

no matter the weather, Rioja wines are the perfect companion for a cozy evening with friends.
Especially loved the white wine in combination with a cheese platter (bellow: baked camembert with rosemary, honey, pear and grapes). Also great for fondue / raclette! let the season begin!