Keys to understand the new Rioja wine regulation

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The campaign Saber quién eres (“Know who you are”), recently launched by the Rioja Qualified Denomination of Origin, will promote the new wine regulation of the region, approved last year, which reflects its growing diversity and gives producers more tools to communicate each of the terroirs.

According to the direction of the Regulatory CouncilRioja wine is constantly improving, revising its definitions and reinforcing what it currently offers with new geographical indications. The main goal, then, is to highlight the unique origin of the terroir, recognize its diversity and continue to establish quality requirements that ensure the high standard of its wines.

The new legislation allows producers to make their region more recognizable to consumers, including the use of a more visible typeface, which takes up more space on the label. Rioja will have, from now on, three regional categories:

Viñedos Singulares: This new category aims to recognize unique single vineyards. To qualify, wines must come from a single vineyard registered as a brand that must appear on the label. The vineyard may be owned by the producer or a grower with whom it has a long-term relationship. In addition, it must be established for at least 35 years. In addition, a reduction of 20% in yield is established in comparison with that of Rioja DOC, the harvest must be manual and new traceability standards are proposed.

Vinos de Municipio: This regulation establishes that the grape must come from a municipality indicated on the label, with a maximum percentage of 15% coming from another neighbouring municipality.

Vinos de Zona: This category covers the labelling of wines from the Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental (formerly Rioja Baja) sub-regions . Up to 15% of the grapes included in the elaboration can be from a neighbouring area.

Another innovation is the introduction of a new category of varietal white wines, which now includes the international varieties Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, in addition to the traditional ones. Producers will also be able to label their sparkling wines as Espumosos de Calidad de Rioja.

Finally, the regulation establishes that, starting 2019, Reserva wines will have a 3-year ageing, with 12 months in oak and 6 in bottle; Gran Reserva must be aged 5 years, with 24 months in oak and 24 in bottle.

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