, whose wines earned fame as early as the 19th century, is one of only two terroirs bestowed with Spain's superior appellation qualification of Denominación de Origen Calificada. Taking its name from the Oja River (Rio Oja in Spanish), the Rioja appellation does not correspond to administrative boundaries; instead, it straddles the autonomous communities of Navarre, Basque Country, and Castile and León. Rioja is probably the country's best known wine region, and it is most famous for its highly respected, distinctive red wines. Excellent quality is a certainty in the offerings of Bodega Luis Cañas, Bodega Altanza, and Castillo Labastida.
Most of Rioja enjoys a continental climate, and the vineyards sit at an average altitude of 400 meters (1,312 feet). The red wines produced here give prominence to Tempranillo, a typically Spanish grape that is commonly blended with Grenache Noir. The high quality of these wines can be attributed to strictly controlled yields, the use of old vines, and unique methods of vinification and élevage—Rioja wines spend at least a few months, and sometimes up to dozens of years, maturing in French or American oak barrels before bottling. The wines of this appellation are divided into four categories based on how long they mature before release: simple Rioja spends several months in oak barrels; Rioja Crianza is matured for at least two years, including at least one year in oak; Rioja Reserva ages for a minimum of three years, at least one year of which must be in oak; and Rioja Gran Reserva spends at least two years in oak barrels and at least three months in bottle.
More informations on the website of the wines of Rioja