Ebro River Valley Wine Area Map

Ebro River Valley

The region’s most important river isn’t Rioja’s namesake, Rio Oja, but the Ebro River which is Spain's mightiest. Snaking between the Sierra Cantabria and the Sierra Demanda, the Ebro and its tributaries have helped carve out vineyards that have been celebrated for centuries.

This area has very important D.O. like D.O.Ca. Rioja, Spain's most famous fine wine region, as well as the four D.O. in Aragón (Somontano, Campo de Borja, Cariñena and Calatayud) and one in Navarra (D.O. Navarra). Rioja itself has three sub-regions — Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta, and Rioja Oriental — and each one has distinct characteristics.

Among the varietals grown here, Tempranillo is king, certainly, but Garnacha, Mazuelo (Carineña), Graciano and increasing numbers of other indigenous grapes are generating new ideas and styles in the region. Reds, whites and rosés all have a home in the Ebro Valley, with reds accounting for the greater part of its fame.

When Calatayud achieved DO status in 1990, it became Aragon’s second largest quality wine-producing region after Cariñena. Since then, it has been upgrading and perfecting its wines with both cooperative and private bodegas undertaking progressive improvements.

There has been considerable investment in new technology, new winemaking systems and vineyard research. Thanks to all of these factors, the Calatayud wines are now beginning to show their true potential.

Many of the new wines are exploring the possibilities of the Garnacha grape, harvested when fully mature. A new category of young red wines called Calatayud Superior is made from Garnacha from vines that are at least tfifty years old, with yields of no more than 3,500 kg per hectare.

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Since this area acquired DO status in 1980, it has been progressively acquiring an identity of its own.

Whilst most production continues to be red wines, the number of crianzas and reservas is steadily increasing, they produce white wines too. Today both red and rosé wines have won the respect of experts, and the intensely fruity, young reds are enjoying considerable commercial success.
 
The winegrowing heritage of the D.O. Campo de Borja is very rich in relation to Garnacha grapes; the oldest vineyards in the D.O. date back to 1890, and of the almost 4,000 hectares of this variety, more than 2,000 are between 30 and 50 years old. Levels of production are low, but highly appreciatted enologically, because of the complex structure and aroma they endow the wines.

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Cariñena, the largest and oldest of the Aragonese DOs, was one of Spain's earliest areas to be demarcated, in 1932. It has given its name to the grape of the same name, called the Mazuelo elsewhere in northern Spain and the Carignan in France.

The last decade has seen fast development thanks to fusions between small bodegas and cooperatives, and the reshaping of wines to modern tastes.

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Somontano, with centuries of wine tradition, won its DO status in 1984, and ever since it has produced impressive results. The vineyards, located in the foothills of the Aragonese Pyrenees, have an ideal altitude and climate as well as an interesting range of grape varieties and wineries intent on making unique, high-quality wines.

The excellent results obtained are reflected in the attitude of the domestic and international market, which have created a demand for these products - elegant, structured, and suitable for long life.

The wines, made from fifteen native and foreign grape varieties, have a refreshing lightness and delicacy, and show the efforts undertaken by the local vine growers and bodegas. This has been one of the keys to the DO’s success and to the creation of critical and sales success.

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In 1926, Rioja was the first Spanish wine region to obtain DO status. In 1991, it was again the first one promoted to D.O.Ca. (Qualified Designation of Origin), a higher category reserved for wines maintaining a proven consistency and quality over a long period of time.

The area of D.O.Ca. Rioja spans 3 different Autonomous Communities: La Rioja, Basque Country and Navarra. Rioja is famous worldwide primarily for its reds although it also makes whites and rosés and, from 2019 onwards, sparkling wines too. Most bodegas still use their own formulas for blending red wines, using mostly Tempranillo, the noblest of the native Spanish grapes. This grape gives the wines their elegance, concentration of aromas and complexity of flavors that allow for great development through oak aging. It is this, as well as oak ageing, which gives the wines such personality and individuality.

At the same time Rioja wines have evolved steadily. Today they offer a broad range of styles including many varietals, blended wines all along the spectrum from oak to fruit; organic wines; and, at the top end of the market, the Reservas and Gran Reservas.

The changes in winemaking implemented in the past decade have produced excellent results. New generations of growers and makers have placed their emphasis in the careful development of the grapes through their growth and maturity cycle, in the careful selection at harvest in the optimum moment for each vineyard, and in the latest winemaking technologies to ensure that the wines reflect the best from the grape. This has been recently reflected in new regulatory changes that stress the particular origin of the wines within the D.O.Ca., its 3 sub regions,  and even specific vineyards.

The aspiration for excellence of producers in Rioja has contributed to the consolidation of their prestige among consumers, making them a reference for fine Spanish wines worldwide. The development of productive and commercial structures in Rioja and the prestige attained by their wines has also positioned the area among the elite in historical European denominations of origin.

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The autonomous of Navarra region extends from the central Pyrenees to the Ebro Valley through a variety of landscapes. Spectacular mountains in the north give way to green, undulating foothills and, in the south, an arid plain. The vineyards of Navarra DO are located in the southern part of the region, between Pamplona and the plains. This location is practically unique in the Iberian Peninsula and is marked by the confluence of the Atlantic, Continental and Mediterranean climates. The proximity of the Bay of Biscay, the influence of the Pyrenees and the temperate incluence of the Ebro valley are all key factors in giving Navarra its unique range different climates.

Until the 1980s Navarra, a producer of reds, whites and rosés, was best known for its traditional rosé wines, but it has since emerged as one of Spain’s most experienced winemaking areas. This evolution was due, to a large degree, to the work of the Estación de Viticultura y Enología de Navarra (Navarra Viticulture and Oenological Research Station). This centre, established by the Regional Government near Olite, undertakes research and training in the area of viticulture and winemaking and has contributed to turning the DO into a producer of wines as diverse as any found in Spain. Thus, today Navarra makes reds, rosés, whites and Moscatels of quality.

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