Rioja is a wine region situated in northern Spain. Rioja DOC (Denominacion de Origen Calificada) covers roughly 63,000ha and consists of three designated sub-regions: Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja.
There are about 1,200 wineries producing red (tinto), white (blanco) and rose (Rosado) wines from red grapes including; Tempranillo, Garnacha Tina and Graciano and whites including; Viura, Garnacha Blanca, Malvasía, Torrontés, Verdejo, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Rioja red wines are classified in four categories depending on length of ageing; ones simply labelled Rioja (formerly vin joven) are the youngest, spending less than a year in oak.
Crianza reds must be aged for a minimum of one year in oak and a few months in bottle before being released. For whites the minimum cask ageing period is six months.
Rioja Reservas are selected wines of very good vintages – they must be aged for a minimum of three years, one of which is spent in oak before being bottled for two years and then released. For the whites, minimum ageing period is two years with at least six months in oak.
Rioja Gran Reservas comes from outstanding vintages and are aged for at least two years in oak and three years in bottle before being released. For the whites, the minimum ageing period is 4 years with at least one in oak.