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Rioja takes to road, but needs to reduce prices

Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jo Burzynska

The Rioja Roadshow heads round the UK at the end of this month, but more is needed to deal with the real problems in the region, according to UK distributors. After rocketing Rioja prices dented the Spanish market in the UK, the Rioja Wine Exporters are trying to re-establish their wines through a series of trade, press and consumer tastings across the country. However, it looks likely that prices rather than a promotion of this kind are key to the region's re-acceptance in the UK. Daniel Brennan, marketing product manager, Private Liquor Brands, said: "The Rioja Roadshow is a good vehicle to show the trade, press and consumers the quality of the Crianza wines, which were not affected as much as the younger wines by the recent price rises. But the region has to do a lot more work to recover and restore consumer and trade loyalty along with realistic value-for-money prices." Robert Boutflower, sales director, Laymont & Shaw said: "The roadshow is necessary as we need to give people the opportunity to taste the wines." Boutflower added: "The Rioja problem will be sorted out by the Riojans bringing prices down, which will pull Spain as a whole up. Rioja will bounce back as Rioja is a world brand, which is unfair on other areas of Spain who did not put their prices up but did not do as well as they expected. The whole of Spain's image is led by Rioja." The tastings held in London, Bristol and Belfast between 31 October and 3 November will feature a wide range of styles from over 30 bodegas. According to Graham Hines, director of Wines from Spain: "We are hopeful that those who attend will be impressed with the quality of wines which has earned Rioja the reputation as Spain's flagship wine."