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.
‘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.