A guide to the indigenous Spanish and local Riojan grape varieties

Rioja's Red Grapes

Tempranillo
The classic red grape variety of Spain, and in particular, Rioja.
On its own Tempranillo produces soft supple wines, with aromas of soft red summer fruits like strawberries and raspberries.

Tempranillo produces wines of great structure, wines which can be enjoyed as young, fresh wines for early drinking or matured for many years to become wines famous for their depth, character and elegance.

Mazuelo
This grape variety can be blended with Tempranillo to add colour, weight and tannins which helps the wine to age gracefully. Mazuelo on its own is very rare.

Garnacha
This grape variety adds warmth and spice both for early drinking and aged styles of Rioja. Single varietal Garnacha wines are starting to make their way to the UK so keep your eyes peeled for warm, spicy everyday drinking wines and the refined, highly prized wines made from “old vine” Garnacha.

Graciano
As a blending partner with Tempranillo, a small quantity of Graciano (typically 3-5%) can add extra fruit and elegance to the wine. But as a grape variety, Graciano is capable of making varietal wines of great character and finesse. They can often be very long lived.

Rioja's White Grapes

Viura
Viura produces clean, fresh, zesty and lightly herby young white wines.

Garnacha blanca
This grape variety can be used in small amounts to add weight and body to Viura wines which are aged for 6 months or more. However, small amounts of varietal wines are made from Garnacha Blanca grapes from very old vines to produce concentrated and exceptional white wines.

Malvasia
This grape variety is used in small quantities alongside Viura to make classic oak-aged white wines. Its musky, savoury character, added to the fresh crispness of the Viura and the vanilla of the oak produce wines of great individuality and style.

Rioja's New Grape Varieties

In 2007, Rioja regulators approved the use of 9 new varieties of grapes, enabling greater complexity in its white wines while maintaining its identity and heritage.

These include three non-native varieties —Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo— as well as three native ones —Maturana Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco and Turruntés. Another three native minority grape varieties, these red, were also approved: Maturana Tinta, Maturano (also known as Maturana Parda) and Monastel.

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