Wine had been produced in this beautiful region of northern Spain for centuries but it was not until the great wine blight, phylloxera, hit southern France in the mid nineteenth century and the exodus of many Bordeaux producers across the Pyrenees, with the consequent broadening and deepening of expertise, that Rioja started its journey to world-wide acknowledgement.
It is a truly exquisite area, small in size – only 75 miles from north-east to south west – a rolling landscape of vine covered hills patchworked with the prettiest medieval hamlets.
Such a compact wine-growing area does however produce a tremendous variety of styles: the reds (about 91%) based around the noble tempranillo grape blended with garnacha. Whether young – fruity and light – or aged in oak and bottle offering a more traditional character, rich in fragrance and depth.
And to accompany the Rioja of your choice, may we suggest a little tapas plate;
perhaps bacalao, calamari, patatas bravas, pescaíto frito, gambas al ajillo or pintxos. Por qué no?