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.


Top 25 Riojas on the shelves right now

26th January 2015

Rioja is all things to all wine lovers: from simple unoaked wines, through traditional Tempranillos aged in American oak, to more modern blends and terroir-driven examples. Sarah Jane Evans MW...

value rioja

24 great-value Riojas between £8-£20

13th December 2013

Our tasters were stunned by the quality on offer from Rioja at under £20, and particularly by the older vintages. No other region does complexity and value like it, they agreed. See the top 24...

Rioja through the ages

Top Riojas through the ages

14th September 2013

Sarah Jane Evans MW explores the stylistic evolution of Rioja and suggests the best wines to look out for and buy from vintages spanning the last two decades...

Rioja 2007

Rioja 2007: panel tasting results

2nd March 2012

On the whole, judges recommended this approachable vintage with particular praise for the reservas. The top Riojas were found to have drinkability, appeal and balance. See all 26 wines, including...