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Breakaway Rioja group demand single estate appellation

Published:  28 July, 2016

Forty Rioja wine producers in Alava have launched a bid to create a new appellation for single estate vineyards. 

ABRA, the Association of Rioja Alavesa producers has announced that it has presented plans for a new appellation to the Basque government in Spain, with the title Viñedos de Alava (Vineyards of Alava).

The move would allow Rioja Alavesa producers to distinguish their wine from generic Rioja wine. Among current plans for the appellation is a move to put Euskadi (Basque Country) on the label of wines made within the new appellation.

The MP for Alava, Ramiro González, said on July 27 that he supported moves to establish a new appellation that would defend the business model of family producers who make wine from their own vineyards.

According to Spanish newspaper, El Correo, he said the process would have to be accorded with Rioja's Regulatory Council (Rioja DOC).

In a statement, the Rioja DOC accused ABRA of "disloyalty", saying that ABRA had failed to inform them of the move to establish a separate appellation. A meeting between ABRA and the Rioja DOC is scheduled for tomorrow.

The move to create a new appellation in Rioja follows rising tension between the Rioja DOC and producers across the region. In December, leading Rioja Alaves producer Artadi, made the decision leave the Rioja appellation. And last November 150 wine producers merchants and journalists signed a petition in defence of Spanish terroir.

Rioja DOC and ABRA were unavailable for further comment, but in an earlier interview with, ABRA's director, Ines Baigorri said: "We want to work with our business model which is about long term sustainable production of quality wine, rather than the mass production of wine at low prices."

Last year, ABRA called for the establishment of new categories of quality within the Rioja appellation together with the right of producers to provide further information about their individual wines on labels so that consumers can distinguish producers from one another. It also said it wanted the name Rioja Alavesa to be more visible on labels, a move which it said the Rioja DOC had declined to pursue.

Writing in a column for Spanish newspaper, El Mundo in December, Spanish wine critic and producer Victor De La Serna, said: "In Spain, history, tradition and the knowledge of terroir would allow qualitative classifications, but the interests created by large industrial groups stops this from happening. The great trick in Spain is the ability to mix grapes from any parts of a Denomination, which allows these groups to make great savings in their creation of brands of wines made in large volumes; talk of wine from a village, let alone a Pago, does interest them in the slightest."