Grapes have been grown in the La Rioja region for thousands of years. First carefully tended to and crafted by monks as early as 873, Rioja wines have a fascinating heritage, dating back to the Phoenicians and the Celtiberians. According to VinePair.com, it’s the most famous wine on the American market, it’s fruitiness, structure and tannins making it similar to Cabernet Sauvignon. The strawberry-ish Tempranillo is the dominant grape, but you know that fruitiness we were just talking about that? You can thank Garnacha, Mazuelo or Graciano for that. Often called “Spain in a glass”, a wine this rich in history is something definitely worth toasting. Here are five reasons to celebrate the Rioja region and this multi-faceted vino.
The Rioja region hosts a wine fight. Yes, we said wine fight.
Each June 29, thousands of people travel to the heart of the Rioja region for the Haro Wine Festival. The tiny town of Haro comes alive with festivities, the most famous of all is the La Batalla de Vino de Haro, the Wine Fight. Festival goers climb to the top of a mountain 3 miles away for a wine-fuelled party with wine filled water guns, sprayer trucks, buckets of wine and backpack wine sprayers.
Drink your Rioja now, or cellar to celebrate later
There are four classifications of Rioja: Rioja, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Ranging from Riojas, which may have been aged for only a few months to Gran Reservas, Riojas made in exceptional growing years. Those younger Riojas can be enjoyed right away (say, after a hard bike ride), whereas you can save a Gran Reservas for several years and bring out for a special occasion. And while those nifty wine bicycle holders are fun to look at, we don’t recommend tucking a Gran Reservas in there (a Rioja should be just fine though).
You can enjoy a Rioja Wine of the Year at the fraction of the price
If you’re wondering just how good a Rioja can be, the Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 was named Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year in 2013. This Rioja can be picked up for only $63 a bottle. whereas the 2015 wine of the year is $195 a bottle.
Because Rioja is more than just fabulous red wines
Here’s a fun Rioja fact we bet you didn’t know! The region produces those world famous oaky and fruity reds, but also unoaked white wines similar in taste to albarino and verdejo. The Telegraph names the maturana tinto (made from the Mazuelo grape) as a wine to discover this year.
The Rioja’s youthful update is worth raising a glass to
Remember how we said that the Rioja is thousands of years old? Recently the Regulatory Council for the La Rioja Denomination of Origin updated the labels and logo for the Rioja with the aim of attracting younger connoisseurs.
Pure Adventures’ newest Spain bike tour takes cyclists on a scenic and delicious escape throughout the La Rioja region of Spain. This self guided bicycle tour in Spain is a truly original, off the beaten track, experience of wine and food in the old world of rural Espana. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date on other tour announcements. Looking for travel inspiration? You’ll find it on Instagram.