Rioja Recognises: On-trade dominates as ETM and Abel Lusa win

Drinks: Wines
Location: Spain
Other: Competitions

The on-trade dominated this year’s Rioja Recognises, with two of the four awards given going to restaurant groups.

ETM Group won the On-Trade category, while Abel Lusa, the brains behind Cambio de Tercio, Tendidos Cuatro and Cero and Capote y Toros picked up a gong for Outstanding Contribution.

Other awards went to Berry Bros and Rudd (Off-Trade) and Alliance Wine (Distributor).

ETM, which has 13 sites across London, was praised by the judges for its efforts in the two week campaign it put together for the Think Rioja challenge, the early stages of which were featured in the last issue of Imbibe.

LR: Abel Lusa, José Luis Lapuente, general manager Consejo Regulardor Rioja DOCa and Guillaume Mahaut

‘They were very creative and imaginative about what they did, and followed it up with an impressive programme of staff training, which was key,’ said Ricardo Aguiriano, marketing director of the Riojan Consejo Regulador.

‘It’s amazing – completely out of the blue,’ said ETM’s group wine buyer Guillaume Mahaut, who will now join four staff members on a three day trip to the region. ‘I’ve always liked Rioja but the Think Rioja competition really made me rethink what it can be about and brought home to me just how versatile it is. There’s a wine for every occasion.’

Abel Lusa’s award was in recognition of his continuing commitment to the region’s wines for over 20 years – he currently has 80 Riojas on his list at Cambio de Tercio.

‘Rioja doesn’t just produce some of the best value for money wines in the world, it produces some of the best wines full stop,’ he said.

Alliance Wine’s Spanish wine buyer Paul Shinnie was equally confident about the region’s future. ‘The changes that the Consejo has introduced for single vineyard wines are going to have a real impact on the region,’ he said. ‘Rioja has been consistent for many years. The next challenge is to show the differences from one vineyard to another.’

Read more about the new Vinedos Singulares in our feature here.

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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