Rioja Rundown and Stanlake Park Suggestions
How well do you know Rioja wines?
This week we will carry on looking at Spain, turning from Spanish Sparkling wine (a previous blog topic), to delve into the world of famous Rioja. This entry will give you an overview of this fabulous offering including grapes used, some tips on buying, a couple of my own favourites, followed by two alternatives from Stanlake Park.
The Nuts and Bolts of Rioja
Let’s get started! For those of you who have had less experience with this particular option, Rioja is a region found in the North/Centre of Spain. There are a variety of grapes that are key. We won’t go into them all in this particular entry, but here are a few just to whet your appetite; Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo, Graciano, and Viura.
As with lots of wines, Rioja can be split in a number of ways that can help you in your buying choices. What’s more, thanks to these different sections, we have the perfect excuse to sample them all! Hopefully with the following brief information you will be able to find what you like more easily.
First up, a key division to understand is that Rioja is sorted into; Rioja, Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva. These titles refer to oak and bottle ageing time, with Gran Reserva having received the most ageing. So, if you prefer wines that have oakier characteristics, it would be a good idea to try examples of the last on the list.
A second important detail, is that Rioja is split into 3 different regions; Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Baja. It is worth sampling wines from each of these to see which best matches your tastes.
My Rioja Rockstars
Moving on, we have a couple of examples of my favourite names in Rioja. At the top of my list are CVNE and Muga. Both of these are located in Haro. I would thoroughly recommend sampling these two and would love to hear your thoughts on them. So if you have some time, please post any feedback in the comments section below. Of course, you can always share your favourite Riojas as well!
Some Stanlake Park Options
For my Stanlake Park suggestions, I am proposing the two reds, both of which make use of oak. As we now know, this is an important concept in Rioja wine making. If you don’t know these two already, they are The Reserve, and the Cricket Grove.
For both of these options, Stanlake Park’s winemaker, Nico Centonze, has chosen to use French oak specifically. For the Reserve, only used barrels were involved so there aren’t any oak flavours in the wine, while the Cricket Grove is aged in 20% of new barrels, showing some hints of the typical spices of the barrel such as vanilla, cloves and toast.
I hope that this has put you in the mood to sample some Rioja and learn more about this wonderful Spanish offering. As always, we are looking forward to seeing you all on our wine tours and tastings.