Every region of the world that produces wine has its own unique characteristics. Read on to learn more about two of Spain’s wine-making regions: Jumilla and Rioja.
Located in southeast Spain, Jumilla is an up and coming wine region with quality wines at a great price. Jumilla’s climate is one of hot, dry summers and cold winters, with little rainfall and long periods of drought. The sandy soil’s high lime content helps retain soil moisture, enabling Monastrell vines to thrive.
Monastrell grapes dominate vineyard plantings in Jumilla, making up 85% of the grapes used. Wines made from Monastrell are intense in color, fruit driven and usually have an undertone of espresso, chocolate or savory notes.
Other red varieties planted in Jumilla are Garnacha Tintorera, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot. Sometimes Monastrell will be blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Merlot to add another dimension to the wine.
Rioja is the heart and soul of Spanish wine and Spain’s most prominent wine region and is known for its red wines made predominantly from Tempranillo grapes. Tempranillo is very versatile and produces a range of wine styles.
Flanked on both sides by the Ebro River in northern Spain, Rioja is sheltered to the north by the Sierra de Cantabria mountain range. Here, the opposing climates of the Mediterranean and Atlantic converge, providing mild temperatures and ideal growing conditions for grapes. The cool growing conditions produce wines that are well structured and balanced, with moderate alcohol and elegantly fruity flavors.
There are three sub areas of Rioja: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja. Each area has its own characteristic soil and microclimate, resulting in wines of different personalities and styles.
Traditional Rioja wines are what made the region world famous. Traditional versions are aged in American oak barrels have a balance between black cherry and plum fruit, with notes of vanilla and leather.
Modern Rioja wines are more fruit forward and featured concentrated pure Tempranillo and other fruit aromas and flavors. Modern versions tend to be aged in French oak.
Every bottle of Rioja wine features a DOCa seal. This ensures each wines meets the strict qualifications that are required to be an authentic Rioja wine. Below is a list of aging terms you will see on the seal.
- Wines in their first or second year that maintain their primary freshness and fruitiness.
- Wines that are at least in their third year
- Have spent a minimum of one year in casks
- For white wines, have spent a minimum of six months in casks
- Often the flagship wine of a winery
- Selected wines of the best vintages with excellent aging potential.
- Aged for a minimum of three years, with at least one year in casks.
- For white wines, aged for a minimum of two years, with at least six months in casks
- Exquisite wines made only from exceptional vintages
- Have spent at least two years in oak casks and three years in the bottle
- For white wines, the minimum aging period is four years, with at least one year in casks.
- Many winemakers age their Gran Reservas longer than the minimum required time.