It’s all about ageing for Tempranillo, the great grape behind Rioja’s reds. Look out for these terms on the label to give you an idea of the style to expect:
Joven (young) - No oak ageing, for a simple, fruity wine
Crianza - The wine must be aged for 2 years. At least 6 months of this time must be in oak barriques
Reserva - From good vintages only. Wine must be aged for 3 years, at least one 1 of which must be spent in oak barriques
Gran Reserva - From exceptional vintages only. The wine is aged for a minimum of 5 years before release, at least 2 of which are in oak barriques
Rioja isn’t Tempranillo’s only stronghold. The grape has more alternate names throughout Spain than “Patrick” does over here. In Toro, the small but mighty Castilla y León appellation based around the medieval village of the same name, it is simply known as Tinto de Toro.