Grape Varieties

Tempranillo

Tempranillo grape is the most characteristic variety from Rioja wines. It provides them finesse and aromatic power. It is a really versatile variety which, based on the cultivation conditions and the production system, allows to produce from simpler wines, with soft tannins and delicate acidity, to powerful and structured wines, aging extraordinarily well.

The name ‘Tempranillo’ refers to the capacity of the grape to ripe before many other grapes cultivated in southern Europe.

Recent investigations on Tempranillo suggest that it is related to Turruntés. Investigation and evidence highlight the local origin of the grape.

Its typical aromas are plum, ripe strawberry, and licorice.

Its berries are medium size and have a thick skin. It is a vine with a high yield, which makes it very attractive to wine makers. However, wine makers who seek more quality than quantity tend to limit its performance to produce concentrated and structured wines. The finest Tempranillo can be found in hot climate areas with cold influence (cold winds or altitude).

Grenache

Grenache is the Spanish variety which covers the largest area in the world.

After the phylloxera crisis in the first decade of the 20th century, a big part of the Riojan vineyard was replanted with this variety. However, Grenache has given way to the more versatile Tempranillo in the last few decades, so that this variety has changed from dominating forty years ago to representing nowadays 8% of the surface planted in Rioja. The origin of the Grenache variety could be found in the middle of the Ebro valley, between Aragon and Navarre.

It is a variety with  high yield and needs a hot climate to ripen. It has a late ripening, so it can be impacted by early fall rainfalls. Its vertical growth makes it suitable for bush vines, with short pruning to limit its vigor, and it has very good results in dry and not very fertile soils. It has a great resistance to droughts.

Wines produced with Grenache often have a pale ruby color, ripened red fruit (strawberry, plum, red cherry), spicy notes, high alcohol levels, low/medium tannins and low acidity levels. Grapes are medium-sized with thick skin and abundant juice.

Graciano

It is a classic component of Riojan blends. It contributes towards interesting aromas and structure. Currently, it represents 2% of Riojan vineyards, even though its plantations are increasing. 

Wines of this variety present an intense color, high tannin levels and a marked acidity, all of which gives them a great capacity for aging. 

They are characterized by fruity aromas of cherries and red fruits, pepper, and even a touch of mint. 

It is a grape with low yield, late budding and ripening, which thrives in hot, arid climates and is drought resistant. It presents great resistance to diseases.

Traditionally, Graciano variety has been a companion of classic Riojan wines, to which it gave a greater aging potential, thanks to its intensity, tannin, and acidity. However, in the past few years, we have witnessed the the emergence of interesting of single-varietal Graciano wines, which let us enjoy this variety as a main character. When the conditions for suitable ripening are given, Graciano variety produces very fresh, intense wines with a moderate alcoholic proof. 

Viura

Viura, the main white variety from Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin, practically monopolized the cultivation until five years ago, covering 4300 hectares (70% of the total white wines that represent 6,5% of the Riojan vineyard).

DNA analysis suggests Viura is related to Xarel•lo, which would explain the fact that Catalan origin is attributed to it. Similar varieties are Macabeo or Macabeu in France and Catalonia.

It is a  vine relatively neutral and very versatile that grows well in places with hot and dry climate. When it is cultivated with high yield and fermented in stainless steel, it produces white wines with subtle green apple, almond, and white flower aromas for an early consumption. However, with low yields and produced in oak barrels, it can provide complex and concentrated wines, with long guard potential and notes of honey and nuts. It has later budding and ripening than other white varieties, and it is usually harvested at the same time as the red Tempranillo.

Tempranillo blanco

Tempranillo Blanco variety does not exist in any other part of the world; it is a very Riojan variety. 

Tempranillo Blanco is the result of an accidental relatively recent discovery: in 1988, a wine maker from Murillo del Río Leza (Rioja) found a single cluster of greenish yellow grapes in the middle of all Tempranillo vineyards. The Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario de La Rioja (Rioja Center for Agricultural Research and Development, CIDA) collected cuttings to assess what was undoubtedly a new mutation, and planted an experimental vineyard. The results of this work determined that wines from this new variety could be of interest to the Designation, which was included among the authorized as from 2007.

Tempranillo Blanco wines have an intense aroma and a marked varietal characteristic, with banana, citrus and tropical fruit aromas as well as floral. It has a balanced, fresh palate, with medium-long persistence and structure. 

Regarding its cultivation, it is not a very resistant variety to water stress and high temperatures. It is wind sensitive, which is why it is recommended to be grown on trellis.