RiojaThe largest and most famous region in Spain covers an area of over 63,000 ha. Sheltered by three mountain ranges, Rioja is fairly dry with an average annual rainfall of just 530 mm. The climate of the region varies from cooler wetter, elevated areas of the northern Rioja Alavesa, to the warm and dry areas of the Rioja Alta to the hot continental Rioja Baja on its south-eastern side. Rioja is famous for its red wine styles which are usually a Tempranillo dominant blend with portions of Garnacha (Grenache) and Cariñena. Rioja has a hierarchy of quality based on the maturation and ageing of its wines. Joven styles are generally fruit-forward unoaked styles made to drink young, while oak maturation is used for Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva styles. Traditionally American oak is used in the region, although the use of French oak barriques is on the rise. The finest Tempranillo grapes are grown on the chalky soils of the Alavesa sub-region offering elegance, perfume and acidity for the Reserva and Gran Reserva styles while the Rioja Alta and Baja produces the majority of fruit that provide the body and spicy ripe fruit characters. Attractive white Rioja wines made from Viura, Garnacha Blanca and Chardonnay, are also produced in both modern unoaked and more traditional oaked styles.