Classification of Rioja wines according to their ageing
In the world of wine, few places can match the rich tradition and exceptional quality of Rioja. This region of Spain is famous for its winemaking diversity and its unique capacity for ageing. One of the most relevant aspects of Rioja wines is their ageing classification, a practice that has been perfected over generations.
The best things in life take time and our great capacity for ageing is one of our distinctive features. The Regulatory Council of the Qualified Designation of Origin (DOCa) establishes four categories based on ageing time.
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Discovering the Classification of Rioja Wines
Discover how each bottle tells a unique story and how Rioja wines acquire their distinctive personality. In this section we uncork the secrets of ageing and guide you through each stage of the winemaking process.
- Garantía de origen: Let us begin our journey with the youngest Rioja wines, those that preserve the freshness and primary aromas of the grapes. The ‘Garantía de origen’ category certifies the origin and vintage of the wine, but does not guarantee the ageing process. These are usually first or second year wines, fruity wines that retain their primary characteristics of freshness.Rioja’s young reds are renowned for their intense aromas, evoking vibrant fruit, fresh flowers and herbaceous notes. Their balanced acidity makes them the perfect choice to accompany a variety of dishes, from tapas to barbecues. The young whites, on the other hand, have predominantly fruity aromas, a medium body and a fresh acidity that makes them refreshing and delicious.
- Crianza: At least two years after the harvest, with at least one year in oak barrels (six months for whites and rosés). This is where the magic happens: the primary aromas and flavours of the grapes are balanced by the oak notes. The reds develop a beautiful ruby colour with aromas of vanilla, coconut, spices and toasted wood. Smooth and ready to enjoy, with soft tannins. The crianza whites offer golden tones, ripe fruit aromas and complexity on the palate.Rioja’s Crianza wines are the perfect balance between youth and maturity, preserving the primary aromas while revealing the secondary ones. Lose yourself in the aromas of vanilla and coconut, while the fruit continues to dance with every sip.
- Reserva: Made from selected grapes that are aged for a minimum of three years (two years for whites and rosés). They are the maximum expression of Rioja, rich in nuances and with a great ageing capacity. Reserve wines are more complex, with three types of aromas: fruity (primary), woody (secondary) and finally aged (tertiary), such as tobacco, leather, truffle, etc.These wines are the crown jewels of Rioja. Their complex aromas tell stories of times gone by and are perfect for special occasions.
- Gran Reserva:Our journey culminates in the “Gran Reserva” category. These are Rioja’s most precious treasures, aged for at least five years (four years for whites and rosés). Gran Reserva wines offer an exceptionally rich palette of flavours and aromas, reflecting the patience and art of winemaking.The Gran Reserva reds have a ruby red colour with russet tones, the result of long ageing in cask and bottle. Their aromas are complex, with notes of spices, dried fruit and balsamic wood. In the mouth they are supple and elegant, with a silky texture that caresses the palate.
Gran Reserva whites stand out for their golden colour and exhibit aromas of ripe fruit, dried flowers and toasted notes. Their texture is silky, and their elegance on the palate makes them a unique choice for lovers of aged white wines.
Each glass of a Gran Reserva tells a story of dedication and patience of Rioja’s winemakers. They are the perfect choice for truly special moments, celebrations and occasions when you want to appreciate the magnitude of Rioja’s winemaking tradition.
In conclusion, the classification of Rioja wines according to their aging is an exciting journey through time, where each category offers a unique taste experience. From the freshness of the “Guarantee of Origin” to the mature treasure of the “Gran Reserva”, Rioja has something for all wine lovers. So, the next time you uncork a bottle of Rioja, remember that you are exploring a winemaking tradition that has stood the test of time and continues to delight palates around the world. Cheers!