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Wine section: the Rioja region presents a wide range of Spanish wines


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In the north-west of Spain lies the wine region of La Rioja (“ree-oh-ha”). Here you will not only find their internationally renowned red wines, but also whites and rosés that range from simple and elegant to complex and deep.


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Rioja’s flagship red grape is Tempranillo (pronounced “temp-rah-nee-yo”). The other authorized grape varieties are: Graciano, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Maturana Tinta. What is interesting to note is the seal of the back label – the aging of the production is guaranteed by the inspection of a regional wine control council.

A leaf green seal indicates the wine is young, juicy and easy to drink, spending very little time, if at all, aging in barrels. This category also includes “other wines” that do not fit into the classification system, oddities (Tentenublo is an example). For example, putting the name of the city where the grapes come from disqualifies the wine from the classification system.

Next is Crianza, with a brilliant cherry red seal – aged at least one year in cask and one year in bottle before being marketed.


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The Reservas have a darker burnt red seal and are produced only with quality vintages that have aging potential – aged a minimum of three years with at least one year in cask.

At the top of the Rioja Pyramid, producing long-lived, world-class wines is the Gran Reserva category, sporting a blue seal and bottled only in exceptional vintages – spending a minimum of two years in cask. oak and a further three years of aging in bottle before leaving the cellar – ready to drink.

Viura is the most widespread white grape variety, a beautiful aromatic and elegant grape with a lot of acidity. Others include Malvasia and the white mutations of Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Maturana.

Sampling each category side by side with a few wineries would be a good thing. You’ll be amazed at the range – from producers using more traditional methods with American oak – compared to more modern expressions using French barrels for aging.


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I had a great chat with Vivanco winery’s export manager Hugo Urquiza and Margaux Burgess, local wine lover and certified Rioja educator, about Rioja wines before coming up with some favorite selections.

Juanita Roos recommends a variety of wines from the Rioja region.
Juanita Roos recommends a variety of wines from the Rioja region. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia


An elegant, vibrant and everyday white Rioja. A blend of 50 percent Viura with white Tempranillo (not red Tempranillo) and white Maturana. It is lively and fruity with notes of citrus, green apples, tropical fruits and dried herbs.


A light, aromatic, elegant and fresh blend of Viura and Malvasia, which makes it easy to enjoy on its own or as an accompaniment to lighter meals. You will discover crunchy pears, wild herbs and dill. Chef Roger de Clémentine has paired this wine perfectly with a brilliant poached cod.


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Viura is the main grape – 70 percent – with Garnacha Blanco and Malvasia, spending 12 months in American oak barrels creating a rich white wine, intensely aromatic and flavorful: notes of cream, vanilla, pear, spices and toasted oak, with just enough acidity to keep it interesting. It is a great alternative for the wealthy Chardonnay lover.


A pretty, very dry rosé resulting from a blend of Tempranillo and Grenache. Excellent kitchen rosé with savory herbs, almost ripe Morello cherries and wild strawberries and a hint of citrus. It is lively and lively with a slight bitterness on the finish. Perfect for aperitifs.


Mainly Tempranillo, with a touch of Maturana Tinta and Graciano. Aged for 16 months in French and American oak barrels, followed by at least six months in bottle. Concentrated aromas of fresh and ripe red fruits, spices and smoky notes. This wine is young, juicy and fresh. White and Crianza are both flagship wines of the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. It’s a wine list that needs to be revamped, so it will be a treat for customers.


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It’s a red wine that everyone likes with a fun label. Ripe red berries and tart cherries with floral and earthy notes, wrapped in medium body with silky tannins make this an easy drinking red. Enjoy it with everyday dishes such as pizza, pasta, burgers and grilled vegetables, also on Luisa’s wine list in St. Albert.


This wine is mainly composed of Tempranillo with some Grenache and Graciano, aged in older French and American oak barrels for 18 months. You will find fresh ripe red fruits with hints of licorice, coffee, vanilla and balsamic, sweet and easy to drink.


The label was designed by the same artist as that of La Maldita de Vivanco. Roberto Olivan, the owner, is a nonconformist winemaker. Therefore, all of its bottles will have the green leaf sticker on the back (like an oddity) regardless of how old they are. A brilliant blend of co-fermented Tempranillo and Viura. Biodynamic, organic, dense and complex with juicy black berries and beautiful dry, fine tannins – while preserving freshness. Roberto is all about agriculture and this is evident with the quality of all Tentenublo wines, a spiritual journey with every sip. Discover the photos on its website!


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A bold and fruity tempranillo with lush cherry, berries, wild herbs, coconut and spices from 20 months aging in new American oak barrels, plus two years of bottle aging. Pip has this on their list, order with the meatballs or the braised beef on the dinner menu.


Made in the same way as 150 years ago by the founder of the winery, Celestino Navajas, producing the best 1,870 bottles in the winery. A blend of Tempranillo, Graciano, Garnacha and Mazuelo, from four selected plots of old vines grown in the bush, on poor soils (the key to the best grape production). Aged for 30 months in French barrels, plus an additional five-year aging in the bottle. Elegant, complex and robust Рready to drink now, but it also has great aging potential. Surprisingly, the fruit is still present and fresh, with dusty cherries, leather, cigar box, coffee and soft round tannins, a real spectacle. Chef Roger Letourneau from Cl̩mentine has paired it perfectly with roast and braised lamb and mangalitsa ham from Meuwly, and manchego cheese with a quince compote.

Wine selections are available in select Alberta stores. Log on to to check availability and call them to check.

Juanita Roos opened Color de Vino, a fine wine and spirits store, with her family in 2014. She has traveled to wine regions around the world and obtained the prestigious WSET diploma from London, England, a prerequisite for the Masters program. of Wine. Send your wine questions to [email protected]



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