About the Rioja
In a nutshell: Spain's most famous red... Rioja has traditionally been American oak's most expressive ambassador. The wine is made from a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache) grapes aged for a considerable number of years in the sweet, vanilla-scented warmth of small American oak barrels. The result of this prolonged ageing was to allow a high proportion of phenolics to be left behind in the bottom of the barrel, making bottled Rioja a relatively pale, gentle, soft wine reminiscent of strawberries and stewed fruit. It was this flattering, easily appreciated character, and the fact that fully mature examples did not cost very much, that made Rioja the first non-French wine to woo non-Spanish wine drinkers in the late 1970s.