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La Rioja, located in northern Spain is a wine-making province which is bordered by the Basque country, Navarre, Aragón, and finally, Castilla y Léon. It is named after the river Oja, which flows through the region with the river Ebro. Formerly known as Logroño, due to the fortified site around which it was developed, it is the second smallest autonomous community in Spain and has the smallest population. Although the region has changed its name, the capital is still known as Logroño. The Mediterranean climate provides hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Like its wine, the gastronomy of La Rioja makes it a notable Spanish region. Riojan cuisine is characterised by the astonishing abundance of local produce. The higher areas produce primarily pork products such as chorizo, black pudding and cured Serrano ham and dishes such as chuletillas al sarmiento (lamb chops on vine cuttings) and freshwater Riojan trout can be tasted in the region’s traditional restaurants.
The region is well-known for its hilltop medieval towns, impressive mountains and huge monasteries. The capital, Logroño was an old Roman settlement and was the main seat of the Basque witch trials, part of the Spanish Inquisition in 1609. It is filled with beautiful plazas and parks, such as Carmen Park, which possesses a large quantity of flora and fauna and the Town Square, which has hosted numerous public events and concerts over the years. The town of Haro is extremely important in terms of the region’s viniculture, as the coveted Haro Wine festival is held here each year. It is home to many of La Rioja’s great bodegas (wineries) and is known in particular for its fine red wines.
DOCA Rioja wines are made from grapes grown in parts of Navarre and the Basque province of Álava, as well as in La Rioja itself. The three wine regions of Rioja are Rioja Alta, known for its “old world” style of wine, Rioja Alavesa, producing wines with a fuller body and higher acidity and Rioja Baja, whose wines are deeply coloured and often highly alcoholic. La Rioja produces red, white and rosé wines which are usually a blend of various grape varieties. The most widely-used grape variety in La Rioja’s red wines is Tempranillo, which contributes the main flavours and ageing potential. Other popular grape varieties include Garnacha Tinta, Graciano and Mazuelo. For the region’s white wines, Viura is the most prominent grape and is typically blended with Malvasía and Garnacha Blanca.