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The International Wine Review

August 2008

Report #13 The Wines Of Rioja: Classical and New Wave

Introduction

Rioja is the heart and soul of Spanish wine. Not only is it one of Spain’s oldest and most prestigious wine producing regions, but no other wine region in Spain is better known or appreciated by consumers both within and outside Spain. As shown in a recent survey, European consumers put Rioja on a par with Bordeaux in terms of recognition for quality wine. Wine critics in both Europe and America rate top Rioja wines as among the best in the world. Contributing to its fame is the fact that the Rioja DOCa’s six hundred wineries make it Spain’s largest producer and exporter.

Perhaps for too long, Rioja rested on its laurels, producing traditional wines that often tasted over-oaked and tired in the international marketplace, especially compared to the fruit- dominated wines of the New World. However, over the past two decades Rioja has undergone a continuing transformation that has led to dramatic improvements in both the quality and diversity of its wines. This transformation began in the 1990s with a new generation of producers intent on realizing the potential of Rioja. They modernized winemaking practices and vineyard management while strongly committing to making authentic Rioja wines that are expressive of their microclimate, soil, and vines. Equally as important as what these new winemakers did is what they did not do. They did not succumb to the temptation to produce the overly extracted alcoholic wines popular in some export markets. The result of this transformation is authentic wines that are richer in fruit with better integrated oak that continue to express their terroir.

These quality improvements can be found in both Classical

In This Issue Introduction ..................................

................ Cover

30 Noteworthy Classical And New Wave Producers ........

History of Modern Winemaking ... The Region ................................... Rioja’s Classification System ......... The Grapes .................................. In the Vineyard .............................. Winemaking ..................................

Styles of Rioja Wine: Classical and Pairing Rioja Wine with Food: A Tasting at Jaleo Restaurant....

The Market for Rioja ...................... Tasting Notes and Ratings ............ Map of Rioja .................................. Wines of Rioja by Price and Rating References and Further Reading ...

........................3 ........................4 ........................4 ........................5 ........................6 ........................6 ........................8 New Wave......9

......................10 ......................11 ......................12 ......................30 s .................... 31 ......................35

gran reserva. New Wave Rioja rejects these regulations and alters oak treatment and aging depending on the quality

of the fruit and the vintage.

Many wineries produce and

market both Classical and New Wave Rioja wines to satisfy consumers whose tastes range from the traditional to the modern.

and New Wave Rioja wines.

Classical Rioja obeys the

traditional DOCa regulations concerning mandatory oak and bottle aging required for classification as crianza, reserva, and

In this report, the International Wine Review explores the changes which have taken place in Rioja over the past

Continued on page 3.

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