Rioja (ree oh hah) is the name of Spain’s most popular wine and region but the wine is made from Tempranillo grapes. Tempranillo is grown in New World regions but Tempranillo is synonymous with Rioja.

tempranillo 174x210

Tempranillo is one of my favorite wines to pair with food. It’s no surprise that my favorite “food” wine is Sangiovese wines – Chianti’s and Super Tuscans from Italy. Tempranillo and Sangiovese make any food taste better – cheese, pasta, meats or soups.  These wines are medium body, nice acidity, soft tannins and well-balanced. Both wines do well with a few years aging and decanting is always better.

Like other Old World wines, winemakers now produce a modern Rioja that appeals to the American palate (bright fruit flavor, lighter taste and less oaky).  A distinct characteristic of Rioja wines is their oak aging and the following classifications appear on the label:

  • Crianza  – 2 years aging includes 1 year in oak barrels
  • Reserva – 3 years aging includes 1 year in oak barrels
  • Gran Reserva – 5 years aging includes 2 years in oak barrels.

baronDeLey rioja resv 2010
BARON DE LAY Reserva Rioja 2010
Rioja Baja, Spain $19
Decanter 95 rating “Evocative scents of coconut, woodsmoke, dark cherry and strawberry fruit. Displays punch of citrus acidity and a fine rasp of tannin on the long, classic finish. Very well balanced with firm structure.”

Cheers, Bob the WineGuy

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