Knowing Rioja

06 August, 2018

Forner says: “It is not clear that the official ‘labelling’ will correspond better to the current quality of the wines. Reservas and Gran Reservas are an example as they do not always reflect the quality one would expect from such an administrative classification. New terms, such as ‘Rioja genérico’ (instead of ‘joven’), ‘vinos de zona’, ‘vinos de municipio’ and ‘viñedos singulares’ may create even more confusion internationally.”

Bastida says: “Rioja has always been a denomination of origin whose sign of identity has always been the red wine. For history, tradition and oenological excellence I believe that red wines will continue to be the main reference, but at the same time I believe that opening up to new elaborations is also a sign of modernity and adaptation to new consumption and targets.

“It will take time, but I think that, in the end, knowing how to differentiate the types of wine that we elaborate in Rioja will help to understand the complexity and the different styles and origins. Wine connoisseurs will thank these new definitions for sure,” says Bastida.


Forner says: “We are fully committed to this strategy so as to compete in the global wine market. In the end, beyond administrative classifications, it will be the bodegas with their brands that will be the final guarantors of the real quality and consistency of their wines.”

“I believe that the strategy of the wineries must go through differentiation, trying to create different wines within the Rioja style,” says Bastida. “At the same time, we must pay attention to climate change and its challenges. In the case of Bodegas Ramón Bilbao we have been working for several years on the concept of high-altitude viticulture, elaborating on vineyards at a higher altitude, and achieving a more modern and elegant profile in our wines.”

Lapuente says: “We want to focus on geographical traceability and with the indications approved in 2017, such as Viñedos Singulares, in addition to the already used Vinos de Zona (Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Oriental, formerly known as Baja) and recently improved Viñedos de Municipio (village or municipality wine), we are drawing attention to the unique link with the terroir in Rioja and recognising its diversity.

“Education on this will take some time, but our strong brand identity and established reputation for high-quality wines will once again prove that Rioja can permanently remain at the top of consumers’ minds.

“In 2018, Rioja begins a new stage, developing value arguments to back the leadership position of its wines,” concludes Lapuente.”


  • The Rioja Regulatory Council, or Consejo Regulador de Rioja DOCa, announced growth in foreign markets where Rioja wines are sold in 130 countries.
  • Exports made up 35% of Rioja sales over the 12 months from April 2016 to March 2017.
  • For the year ending March 2017, 90.4% of global Rioja exports were red, 4.4% rosé, and 5.2% white.
  • Global Rioja exports were made up of 46.2% Sin Crianza wines, 22% Crianza, 27% Reserva and 5% Gran Reserva over the past year (Rioja Exporters Group stats to March 2017).
  • Rioja volumes have begun to stabilise and plateau in the past 12 months (-1.9%) after a long and sustained period of growth.
  • Rioja value has remained static at £227m with a marginal dip of -0.1% against the previous year.
  • Within the Spanish category, Rioja continues to assert its dominance as the flagship wine region, and now accounts for almost half of Spanish value at 49.4% (up 8.7% YOY) and 38.6% of Spanish volume (up 10.4% YOY). More than 82% of Rioja is sold at more than £6/€6.83, compared to less than 26% across the Spanish category.


Saber Quién Eres:

  • Knowing who you are is valuable and courageous. It means having a course set out and being honest.
  • Knowing who you are is your great wealth. It is not floating, it is swimming. Even if, at times, you swim against the current.
  • Knowing who you are is living proudly and true to your principles.
  • Knowing who you are is having as many convictions as you have real friends. Few but unbreakable.
  • When you don’t know who you are, you ask for permission.
  • When you do know, you ask for a Rioja.

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Nick Strangeway

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