Rioja rocks

28 June, 2016

an important volume;

and Rioja has several different areas with different wines made. It can please many different consumers.

“Challenges: the main one is the image of a good price/quality region, and not one of the top wine regions in the world. We should work harder to have some wines or wineries in the top world list.”

Asked specifically about the Artadi affair, his considered view is: “The reality is that Rioja is a big area, with many different climates, geographies, styles and grapes and consequently with many different styles and personalities. Just one name for the whole region doesn’t show local or stylistic differences.”

Agudo continues: “The traditional Crianza/Reserva/Gran Reserva is important to maintain because it gives a lot of information about the product to the consumer, but it should be compatible with other mentions to help the customer get even more information.”

Grupo Faustino director of marketing Gerardo Alonso says: “Rioja has always meant a brand of quality and gained its reputation and market thanks to the contribution of many producers under one brand.

“The DOCa is now evolving and understands this is a natural way of development, but it has to be done with the right steps and gathering the agreement of maximum consensus and timing. This is an open market and consumers want to enjoy good quality/value wines regardless of their origin. The consumer is willing to discover and try new things,” adds Alonso.

Christian Barré, CEO Pernod Ricard Winemakers Spain, says: “This controversy should not exist as you can already produce in Rioja DOC wines from specific areas as long as you have full traceability. This can be coupled, or not, with the Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva classification which is still relevant for the region and for consumers.

“It is precisely the diversity of terroirs (Baja, Alta and Alavesa) and ageing regulations that make Rioja`s uniqueness and quality. This should be promoted and any evolution is welcome if it helps to reinforce Rioja quality/brand franchise.”

Chief winemaker for Pernod’s Campo Viejo brand Elena Ardell tells Drinks International she doesn’t think the classifications are out of date. “I think consumers still value them very positively because they are perceived as a guarantee of wine quality. But obviously they need to evolve and, in fact, they are already evolving.

“In Rioja there’s a place for all of us, and I think it is important that all of us are there, because diversity is a strength.

“I don’t agree with the DO being a ‘straightjacket’. Winemakers have always been able to create the wine they wanted – with or without ageing, with more or fewer ageing months – and can still include the Rioja DO generic seal. But, if you want to include Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, it needs to fulfil the required periods already fixed in the regulation,” says Ardell.

Bodegas Torres president Miguel A Torres makes this statesman-like statement about the future for Rioja: “Without any doubt climate change will be the major problem, but global warming affects all wine producers in the world, not only the ones in Rioja.

“On the opportunity side I would like to mention the outstanding worldwide brand recognition that Rioja has. This, of course, helps in today’s wine market that is really a global one.

“But maybe it could be interesting to consider following a model that also allows mentioning, for example, village names and single vineyards, ideas that my good friend Juan Carlos Lopez de la Calle from Artadi proposed.

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