Rioja is Spain’s finest wine region, and is divided into three subzones: La Rioja Alavesa, La Rioja Alta and La Rioja Baja. La Rioja Alta generally produces the finest wines, followed by La Rioja Alavesa. Red Rioja styles include: Joven (unoaked); Crianza (released after two years, including a year in oak); Reserva (released after three years, including two years in oak), and Gran Reserva (released after five years, including two years in oak). Red Rioja is made predominantly from Tempranillo and is synonymous for its classic vanilla flavour derived from new American oak. Other grape varieties, including Garnacha Tinta (Grenache) and Cabernet Sauvignon are also permitted in blends.
White Rioja is made from Viura (Macabeo), Garnacha Blanca and Malvasia. In the past these whites have tended to be heavily oaked, although many are now made in a crisper, fresh style.
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