A. Short aging in American and French oak
B. Long aging in large concrete tanks
C. The traditional solera method
D. Long aging in American oak
The signature of Rioja wines is long aging in oak barrels, usually American oak. The story starts in 1780 when a Rioja winemaker named Manuel Quintano adopted the Bordelaise method of aging wine and began maturing his wine in large French oak casks. Oak casks transformed his wines in a way Quintano had never anticipated. Over time, it became apparent that the new “technology” of small oak barrels would prove more economical if oak trees from North America were shipped overseas and the wood was coopered into small barrels in Spain. Today, there are two philosophies about oak when making Rioja wines. The traditionalists tend to use American oak and to cooper that oak in Spain. Modernists do the opposite: they tend to use brand-new French oak that was coopered in France.