Winecast: Rioja

Winecast: Rioja

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Language: English

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00:00
hello everybody and welcome to the wine caste it's back to Spain with this cast to talk about a region within that country and this time it's the region that's likely to be Spain's most famous Rioja most of the wine region of Rioja is located in a portion of the Spanish province of La Rioja in north-central Spain and the wine region is essentially a portion of the valley of the Ebro River that straddles the aforementioned province of La Rioja as well as small parts of the neighboring provinces of Navarra and the Basque Country province
00:31
of √°lava thanks to its inland location the climate of Rio has speaking in general terms is best described as continental with a Mediterranean influence that helps take the edge off the extremes of temperature that inland locations like this sea and that reaches Rioja via the Ebro River much the way that maritime influences reach into the Loire Valley thanks to the Loire River the region is divided into three sub areas Rioja Baja or lower Rioja a hot and dry low-lying flat area Rioja Alta
01:03
or upper Rioja a Hillier cooler climate area and rioja alavesa a part of upper Rioja with similar features to that area located in the province of Alava in addition to different temperature and climate profiles each of these areas has unique topographic and soil profiles all of which affect the grapes grown there in different ways and historically wines in Rioja tended to be made from blends of grapes sourced from these different areas speaking of history though Rioja is currently an important player in
01:34
Spanish wine it really didn't come into its own until more or less recently though viticulture goes back millennia in Spain with Phoenician and Greek settlers transporting grapevines to their colonies along the coast of the Iberian Peninsula the grape came relatively late to the inland areas of central Spain and then centuries of Muslim presence in the area with that traditions prohibition on alcohol consumption also set up barriers to the development of viticulture in the region when wine growing did become extensive during the 13th through the 19th
02:05
centuries the wine had an extremely rustic character driven by field blends of both red and white grapes that were often fermented via semi carbonic maceration by the mid 19th century a number of local producers had already begun visiting France and learning from French wine producers in an effort to improve the quality of local wines but things really turned a corner for quality production in Rioja later in that century when flocks were drove French winemakers - as yet unaffected areas where they could continue to ply their craft most of the winemakers that made it to
02:37
Rioja as part of this exodus were from Bordeaux and they brought with them techniques and technologies that they used back home to make their wines including the use of 225 litre oak barrels for aging another milestone toward quality production took place in 1925 when a consejo regulador or regulatory council was established to set up and oversee rules of production for wines bearing the Rioja name this event in Rioja parallels a similar event that happened in the same year in chateauneuf-du-pape in France's Rhone
03:08
Valley with producers in both areas acquiring a production code for wines made in their regions also like chateau enough Riojas rules of production anticipated a future nationwide rollout of the denomination of origin scheme into which both Rioja and Chateau neuf would later be grandfathered finally in 1991 Rioja became the first region elevated to the highest regional classification in the Spanish system the DOCA or the classified denomination of origin an honoree currently shares with only
03:38
one other Spanish region pria rot when it comes to the grapes that are grown in Rioja red is king with about 93 percent of total acreage under vine devoted to red grapes and among those the top dog is Tempranillo that takes up about 80% of total vineyard acreage in the region Tempranillo is the most planted of the five permitted red grapes for still wines in the region with the others being Grenache organic in spanish Graciano a deeply pigmented aromatic red grape that shows high acid mass way low
04:10
known elsewhere in spain as cutting jnana or as Karen Yan in France and an indigenous grape Maturana tinta or Mathura no Tempranillo is very closely associated with Rioja we'll see it plays a very dominant part in all red Riojas but its role wasn't always as big as it is now and as recently as the 1980s only about 30% of Riojas vineyard land was planted to Tempranillo with the other permitted varieties playing a much larger role in the wines whites are grown in Rioja as
04:42
well but they only make up around 7 percent of all plantings and the big dog here without any contest is vue de better known throughout the rest of Spain as maka bale one of the three primary grapes used in cava production prior to 2008 when additional grapes were added to the list of permitted varieties for the first time in 83 years vue de was one of the three permitted white grapes along with garnacha blanca and another varietal called Nava Seattle Johanna about ten thousand six hundred of the ten thousand nine hundred or so
05:12
acres of white grapes in Rioja so about 97% are currently planted to vie aura with the remaining 300 acres taken up by the other two White's I just mentioned along with six additional white grapes after 2008 three of these new grapes are local varieties mato Dona Blanca Tempranillo Blanco and bloom des not to be confused with the door on desks grown in Argentina and three of them are the French varieties Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in the Spanish variety Verdejo from the nearby Rueda region
05:44
with so many available grapes to work with it should come as no surprise that Rio has tend pretty overwhelmingly to be blends both red and white and it's not just different varietals that get blended but there's a strong tradition of combining grapes from the three different sub areas of the region Rioja Alta Baja and alavesa into a single batch or cuvee that said the production regulations do allow for the possibility of a 100% Tempranillo and that's becoming more common as is
06:15
the practice of producing cuvee is from grapes grown in a single sub region or even a single vineyard in Rioja speaking of the production regulations they don't specify any percentage requirements for how much of a given permitted varietal can or must be in each bottle but they do state that them Granny o + V Ora should be the dominant grapes in red and white blends respectively and they also specify that if shard solved Blanc and or Verde home that is the non-local permitted white grapes are used in a white wine they shouldn't be the
06:45
dominant varietals roses must be made from a minimum of 25% permitted red grapes and again if the three non local grapes are used they shouldn't dominate the blend so what's with all this stuff about blend domination well as far as I can tell from reading the production rules on the Rioja regulatory councils official website what's important for a Rioja to be called a Rioja is that its organoleptic or sensory properties be consistent with what people think of when they think of Rioja and that means that a Rioja should taste and smell like
07:18
a red wine made from Tempranillo or a white wine from the aura and that it should definitely not taste and smell like a wine made from non-local grapes like shards Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo so for the regulatory council it's less about having a specific percentage of certain grapes than it is about producing a wine with certain characteristics this approach works in no small part because as with other top-quality wine designations throughout the EU each wine is submitted to a tasting panel to confirm its organoleptic properties before receiving
07:49
the Rioja designation speaking of grapes and blending in Rioja here's a fun fact for you according to the regulatory councils production rules up to 5% of a red Rioja can be made from grapes other than the five permitted grapes a number that goes up to 15% if the wine is made by whole cluster fermentation what's up with that well it turns out that all of those expat French winemakers in the 19th century brought some French vines with them along with their French know-how including among others Cabernet
08:19
Sauvignon and some of these vines now grafted and replanted after four locks were hit Rioja are still there in tiny amounts and occasionally make their way into blends though they can't be identified on the bottles label so you'd be surprised what you might find in a bottle of Rioja finally you can't talk about Rioja without talking at least a little bit about Aging which is something that Spaniards take seriously in general but especially so here the tradition in Rioja has been to wines for a long time on American oak
08:51
with its characteristically strong vanilla as well as coconut and dill notes and then bottle the wine when the producer felt it was at a peak age how long could some of these wines sit in barrel quite a while actually with a famous example being the 1942 mutt guests the Moody Etta he guide around her said of I that sat in oak for around 41 years until its release in 1983 as remarkable as some wines aged like this could be there is such a thing as too much aging and more recently producers have taken a lighter those still
09:21
significant approach to time and barrel and more and more often those barrels are being made out of the more gently perfumed French oak in terms of legal requirements for aging Rioja and its neighbor Ribera del Duero follow a stricter version of this general Spanish three tiered system of Crianza thus a divine grant of a set of our wines under this protocol Reds have to age a total of two three or five years to qualify for each tier with a mandatory minimum amount of that aging having to happen in
09:52
barrel for whites Rioja follows the standard protocol that's used throughout Spain that again requires a combination of total aging with a minimum amount of barrel time Rosa is a rare style in Rioja but if a real and Rosie is aged it'll follow the same requirements that a white does while you aren't likely to see too many cases anymore of wines aged in 40 plus years before release producers who are known for their quality will sometimes exceed these minimum requirements by large margins in addition to the three legally defined
10:24
aging categories you may see a few other unregulated terms on Rioja labels semi crianza and prob'ly the latter being just the Spanish word for oak suggests that the wine receives some aging including an oak treatment but less than the required time to qualify for Crianza status while labeling a wine joven or young in Spanish implies that the wine hasn't seen any time on oak at all joven wines were also often but not always have a fairly pronounced carbonic character from having undergone semi
10:54
carbonic maceration which was an important style historically in Rioja and still remains popular for inexpensive easy drinking youthful red wines thanks again for joining me for another wine cast I hope this one helped you get your head around the at times complicated but remarkable wine culture of Rioja and if it did please like and subscribe if you haven't already personally I love real husbands and roses and though I don't usually talk about individual producers or wines I'd love to hear from you in the comments if you have any particular favorite producers and bottles either
11:25
from Rioja or from any other regions that I have done or will do I'm your host the unknown wine caster and I'm out enjoy the grape but always enjoy it responsibly

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