The Rioja Denomination of Origin was created in 1991. La Rioja, together with the D.O. El Priorat, are the only two appellations of origin in Spain that have obtained the category of Qualified Designation of Origin (D.O.Ca). These denominations are obliged to comply with much stricter regulations since their level of protection is greater. Wines that wish to opt for the D.O.Ca must also have been produced in a region with D.O. at least for a period of ten years.
The Rioja Denomination of Origin is located in the Ebro Valley, and limits, to the north with the Sierra de Cantabria and to the south with the Sierra de la Demanda. The La Rioja area encompasses three Autonomous Communities: La Rioja, for the most part, Navarra and a small part of Euskadi. Rioja wines are consumed practically all over the world, with the markets of Great Britain, Germany, the United States and Switzerland being the most demanding. In total, exports of Rioja wines account for more than 30% of total production.
The wines of Appellation of Origin Rioja are characterized by very balanced wines in terms of alcohol content, with good color and acidity, good body and structure, with a smooth and elegant flavor. They are velvety wines when they grow old and fruity when they are young.
The grape varieties currently authorized by the Regulation of D. O. Ca. Rioja are:
Red grapes: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo and Maturana Tinta. White grapes: Viura, Malvasía, Garnacha Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco, Maturana Blanca, Torrontés, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo.