The Rioja wine region is the flagbearer for Spanish wine, a ‘brand’ synonymous with Spain and premium wine. Rioja’s prestige and rare DOCa status (Denominacion de Origen Calificada) reflect its geography, climate, soils and grapes as well as a pioneering, high-quality winemaking culture dating from the 9th century and recognised in law since 1650. Located in northern Spain on the river Ebro, the Rioja region enjoys a warm climate and poor soils known to promote wine quality. While small amounts of white wineand rosé wine are made in Rioja and can be delicious, Rioja’s production and reputation are focused on red wine. Tempranillo is the main grape, sometimes seasoned with Garnacha,Mazuelo and Graciano. Styles vary from easy-drinking, fruity Rioja ‘Joven’, to richer, lightly-oaked Rioja ‘Crianza’, while Rioja ‘Reserva’ and ‘Gran Reserva’ styles attain complexity from years in barrel and bottle.