Rioja Alavesa Wine Region Guide

Discover the essence of Spain in every sip - explore Rioja Alavesa with us


Last updated: February 15, 2024


La Rioja Alavesa, the smallest of Rioja’s three subregions, is today responsible for producing some of the area’s most expensive and venerable wine. Across the zone, old vineyards planted in select sites produce expressions of Tempranillo that are simply magnificent – arguably the most refined and structured Tempranillo in the world. Much smaller amounts of excellent white wine, with a good acid balance, are also made in Alavesa, typically from a blend of Viura and Malvasia. The best examples are vinified and aged in oak barriques to spectacular effect: a clear competitor to white Burgundy.

Yet the zone’s reputation for superlative quality has become lost in the noise and furor over a massive schism that threatens to tear Rioja apart. Several years ago, the association of Rioja Alavesa producers (ABRA) demanded the creation of an entirely new appellation within the wider DO – part of Rioja Alavesa lies in the Basque country. In April 2019, ABRA voted in favor of a name change to the Association of Bodegas de Euskadi (ABE) while expanding its remit to all interested Basque wine producers. If the EU and Spanish authorities accept their final proposal, bottles of “Viñedos de Álava” will eventually hit the shelves, marking a significant change in the region.

However, there is fierce opposition to the move from the region’s key stakeholders; the DO introduced rules in 2022 to prevent ex-Rioja wineries from selling their bottles as Rioja (for one year) if they elected to rejoin the appellation. According to some, the regulations were driven by rank bitterness on the part of the Consejo, which does not want a dynamic rival on its doorstep. This argument will run and run.

Rioja Wine Region Map



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James lawrence

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