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Rioja discussing shift to terroir-based regulation

Published:  18 December, 2015

The Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja is looking at introducing terroir-based regulation for the first time.

 A range of different proposals are currently being discussed which would help the diverse range of producers within Rioja differentiate themselves more clearly.

If introduced, the new system would represent a major change from traditional practices in Rioja, which privilege the Rioja brand itself above all else.

At present, Rioja winemakers are barred from mentioning vineyard names or villages on wine labels.

Possible parameters under discussion include specific terroirs, estates or towns.

Exact criteria have yet to be defined, but factors like uniqueness of the terroir, the age of the vineyard, the extent of its property, and the length of time that the estate's name has been in commercial use, are under consideration.

Under the proposals, the yields of the designated plots would have to be reduced, while their wines would also have to meet more stringent quality criteria than are currently in operation under the DOC Rioja.

Sales of Rioja hit a record 281 million litres last year.

Ricardo Aguiriano, marketing director of the Consejo Regulador, said: "Rioja is an innovative region and has a track record of listening to the market and responding to trends.

"This approach includes regular analysis of a number of issues in order to achieve excellence and the continuous improvement of quality and reputation.

"At present, several new questions are on the table."

Rioja was recently singled out by Guy Woodward in Harpers as one of the world's most under-rated wine-producing regions.

"Name me another wine that offers such complex, layered flavours in its older guises at such astonishing value," he said.

Wines of Rioja's recent 10 x 10 tasting event was aimed at highlighting the diversity of wines produced in the region.