Rioja is undoubtedly the UK’s favourite Spanish wine region. We are also the region’s number one export market with the latest figures showing that we take almost 32 per cent of all the Rioja exported, double the amount which the second largest export market, Germany, takes.
But it perhaps won’t surprise you to know that the vast majority of the Rioja we drink is red. Indeed, globally Rioja only exports about 12 per cent of its white and rosé wines.
However, it does seem we are beginning to wake up to the fact that there is so much more to Rioja than just its red wines, with sales of white and rosé wines increasing, albeit from a relatively small base.
I have visited Rioja a number of times in the past few years and I have to admit that I have always thought that Rioja produces some really interesting and eminently drinkable rosé, or rosado, as it is labelled.
With Provencal rosé currently occupying most of the headlines and certainly driving the rosé market, here are some alternatives from Rioja to try. You never know, we may even get an Indian summer to go with them.
Muga is one of the most traditional of Rioja’s bodegas and is based in the old railway quarter of Haro, capital of Rioja Alta.
Muga Rosado 2017, Rioja (Waitrose £9.99, The Wine Society £9.50) is made from a blend of garnacha, viura and tempranillo and is fermented in older wooden barrels.
Pale salmon pink in colour, the nose is very attractive with summer red berries, think strawberries and cream here as well a touch of ripe peach. The palate is very fresh with more red fruits as well as some citrus notes before a long, refreshing finish.
This would work really nicely as an accompaniment to tapas, such as chargrilled squid, potatoes bravas or a simple salmon quiche.
Finca Manzanos Rosado Barrica 2017, Rioja (Hermitage Cellars £10.65) is a blend of garnacha and tempranillo.
The distinction here is it has been aged for around six months in a mixture of new and second use French and American oak barrels giving just a little more creamy texture to the finished wine.
Deeper in colour with some hints of copper onion skin, the nose shows ripe red fruits and some spice, followed by a nicely textured palate with candied red fruit.
This is more of a food rosé and would work really well with some simply grilled or barbecued fish.
Ramón Bilbao LaLomba Rosado 2017, Rioja (greatwesternwine.co.uk £19.95) is a relatively recent creation and was a conscious effort by the winery to make a world class rosé.
As winemaker Rodolfo Bastida says: ‘You have to take rosé as seriously as you would a red or a white’.
And he does seem to have succeeded here.
No, it’s not cheap and, yes, it does come in a somewhat elaborate bottle, but this is a fairly convincing statement.
This is very classy wine.