Forbes Feature: There Is More To Rioja Than Just Red WineGET TO KNOW RIOJA
When wine-lovers hear the name Rioja the first thing that most likely comes to mind is an aged red made from the Tempranillo grape. That image would not be wrong; 86% of the wine produced in this storied Spanish region is red, and the majority of that is made with Tempranillo. Of the balance, 5% is rosé and 9% is white. Winemakers will tell you that just over 100 years ago many wineries were producing half red and half white wine, but as the local and international thirst for Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva wine from Rioja grew many vines bearing white grapes were ripped out and replaced with red.
That said, as the global demand for rosé continues unabated and wine lovers look for lighter options when imbibing, winemakers in Rioja are setting their sights on increasing their production of white and rosé wines once more. Last week the Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja (Rioja Regulatory Council) held a virtual tasting of newly released white and rosé wines to re-introduce this fast-growing category to USA-based journalists and members of the wine trade. The event was hosted by Iñigo Tapiador, Marketing Director for the council and Pia Mara Santomauro, who heads up the region’s public relations efforts in the United States.
White and rosé wines from three wineries, one from each of Rioja’s subregions, were sent to attendees in advance, and family members from each winery spoke about the wine and their commitment to growing the category. The winery representatives were Maria Urrutia, the fifth-generation owner of CVNE in Rioja Alta, Raquel Perez Cuevas, fourth generation owner and winemaker at Bodegas Ontañon in Rioja Oriental, and Jesus Martínez Bujanda Mora, fifth generation owner of Bodegas Valdemar in Rioja Alavesa.
Speaking about the virtual tasting as opposed to a large, live trade event that would have been held if Covid-19 travel restrictions were not in place, Iñigo Tapiador said “I think it’s great that we are taking this opportunity to share our wines. Wine can travel but people can’t.” He went on to explain that Rioja is most famous for red wines but that white and rosé are important to consumers as well.