Rioja Baja

Rioja Baja

 

Rioja Baja is known to be the hottest and driest of the three winemaking regions in Rioja and is the sub-region most strongly influenced by the Mediterranean climate, which contributes to higher temperatures both daily and seasonally. Although Baja has been known for its vineyard land planted closer to the Ebro river at a lower elevation, a good portion of the most prized vineyard land in Baja, is planted at elevations higher than those in both Alta and Alavesa. The Baja region has the most diverse soil profile of any of the sub-regions, and consists of fertile alluvial soil with large amounts of iron-rich clay and limestone deposits.

 

Rioja Baja Vineyards are located along the Ebro River and in the valleys formed by its tributaries, the Leza, Cidacos, and Alhama, as well as in the higher elevation slopes of the Sierra Yerga mountain range that sits above these river valleys. The higher elevation vineyard land planted along the slopes of Mount Yerga, can reach upwards of 2,500 feet where there is a substantial diurnal shift and the soil is less fertile and more varied in composition, producing much lower yields and fruit of particular interest.

 

Rioja Baja has gone through significant change in the last few decades. Historically, Rioja wine was a blend between all three regions (Alta, Alavesa, and Baja). However, this practice stopped as warmer temperatures in Alta and Alavesa meant that blending across regions was no longer necessary as grapes were able to reach higher levels of ripeness. Vineyards in Baja were replanted, with Tempranillo and Graciano replacing Garnacha as the dominant grape varietal. The best wineries source their grapes from estate vineyards on the slopes of Mount Yerga.