Perhaps you have wondered what the traditional wine classifications: Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva refer to. They basically regulate minimum ageing times in the barrel according to Spanish legislation, although, in cases like Rioja, the ageing time is voluntarily increased. For a Rioja wine to include the term “Reserva” on its label, the wine must have aged for at least three years in the winery and at least one year in oak barrels.
In its day, the traditional mentions were used by a pioneering Rioja to differentiate between young wines and aged wines, which were practically only sold by historic wineries and some large companies. It was not until after 1990 when the Regulating Council of Rioja reduced the minimum number of barrels from 500 to 50 for a winemaker to be dedicated to wine production.
In any case, traditionally, “Reserva” was originally a selection of some of the best wines that winemakers ‘reserved’ for their own consumption; coining the traditional mention that popularized Rioja throughout Spain.
Unfortunately, the “Reserva” concept has become more trivial over the years, as its mere mention, or in other words, ageing for at least one year in a barrel and a further two years in the bottle have become an added value beyond the quality of the wine. It has reached such a point that, for example, a Crianza wine can become a Reserva simply because it has not left the winery and fulfils the three years of ageing established by legislation, without it ever having been intended for such a designation.
However, at Familia Martínez Bujanda, we still believe in the origin of the term “Reserva”. Our Finca Valpiedra is a Reserva, that exceeds Crianza ageing in a barrel (20 to 24 months) and in a bottle (24 to 48 months) as defined by legislation simply because we understand that the wine requires it; even though this goes against the increasingly popular trend of getting the wines on the market as soon as possible; above all, because it respects the original concept of the term.
At Finca Valpiedra, we make a selection of soils; those with the most clay add more structure, vines and grapes in the field and in the winery and also of the barrels for Crianza. We choose what we consider to be the best to respect the character of the wine itself and the landscape from where it comes.
In short, there are many Reservas on the market, with a wide range of prices, but we believe that the consumer should know that there are still wineries that are loyal to the principles: the selection of the best for these wines with which Rioja, at least in its day, earned its prestige in most of the world.