The Best Selling red wine in the UK
By Master of Wine, Christopher Burr
One of the best selling wines in the United Kingdom is Rioja, made up in the hills inland in Northern Spain near Bilbao and Santander.
Other popular reds at the moment are Argentinian Malbec and Merlot from various Countries.
But Rioja has been popular for many years, mainly because the British tend to enjoy wine with a bit of maturity, and complexity in their wine.
The regulations governing production state that the best, Gran Reserva, which is generally produced in the best years, is matured in oak barrels for a minimum of two years, then a further minimum two years in bottle before release. Top producers will most often give their wines substantially longer.
Reserva wines have to be a minimum of three years befor release, with at least a year in barrel and six months in bottle.
whilst Crianza's again require a minimum of a year in oak, but tend to be released young and fruity.
More recently Rioja producers have made young generic wines which used to be called "joven" or young, after as little as a year. But these do not have anything of the complexity and interest as the more aged wines.
Rioja is a big production area of 65,000 hectares of vineyards and 673 wineries, with the best producer making wines in the higher cooler regions. The main grape used is the Tempranillo, but again complexity in the best wines is often added by other varietals like Graciano and Garnacha, often very old plants interspersed in the vineyard and all picked at the same time, so a "field" blend.
White Rioja is a fine tradition wine also with strict ageing criteria and a selection of different local white grape varietals, and these complex wines are well worth trying.
Some of the best Reds to try at the moment are from Laithwaites, Baron de Barbon Gran Reserva at £16.99 for a mixed case, and the Los Hermanos Manzanos Gran Reserva 2008 from great producers and great value at £15.99 for a mixed case.
Waitrose have a very good Gran Reserva El Piadoso 2011 for £16.99.
Sainsbury's have a top producer, Cune's Gran Reserva 2013 under their Taste the Difference range for £13.50. which is superb value for a lovely complex wine.
These wines are fantastic with long roasted meats like slow cooked lamb or pork. I cannot recommend them highly enough, my mouth is watering at the thought!
Shop Rioja now! >