Rioja approves village wine and sparkling classifications

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Drinks: Drinks, Wines

Rioja’s governing body has unveiled a series of changes that could have a significant impact on the way in which wine is made and labelled in the region – and that it is listed in restaurants in the UK.

The biggest change is the ability of wineries to put the name of the village on the label. Though this process is common in other parts of Europe, it has never been possible in Rioja, with only sub-regions like Rioja Baja, Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa permitted.

These ‘zonas’ will stay, but we can expect designations like Vino de Haro, Vino de Samaniego and Vino de San Vicente to appear on the label for the first time from this year’s vintage.

Other changes include the ability to make a DOC Rioja sparkling wine, called Espumosos de Calidad – both white and rosé. Though approved by the Consejo Regulador, this process is awaiting further legal ratification.

There has been a shift, too, in the regulations required for ageing Reserva wines. While the wines still require 36 months of ageing, 12 months of which must be in oak, there is now an added stipulation that at least six months must be spent in bottle before release ‘to avoid unbalanced releases’.

‘Rioja has been adapting to the demands of the market since 1925,’ said José Luis Lapuente, general manager of the region’s Consejo Regulador. ‘These new regulations demonstrate that Rioja is continuing to move forward and respond to what consumers and producers are looking for.’

About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

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