Located in northern Spain, Rioja is arguably the country’s top wine-making region producing barrel-aged red wines from Tempranillo and Garnacha. Rioja’s vineyards run along the Ebro River for roughly 60 miles and the Catabrian Mountains, which flank the region to the north and west, provide much needed shelter from the Atlantic Ocean. It was the first Spanish region to be awarded DO status and has since been awarded the top-level DOCa status. There are four styles of traditional Rioja wine; Rioja (which literally means young wine) are wines in their first or second year that are made to drink young. Crianza wines – possibly the most accessible level of Rioja wines, must have spent a minimum of one year in casks and a few months ageing in the bottle. Reserva is the next level – wines are selected from the best vintages with excellent potential and must have been aged for a minimum of three years with at least one year in cask. The highest level of Rioja is that labelled Gran Reserva – these are wines selected from exceptional vintages and must have spent at least two years in oak casks and three years in the bottle. The Gran Reserva level spends the most time ageing under oak which gives the wines fantastic structure and age-worthy potential.

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