The style of a Rioja wine is determined by whether it is a crianza, a reserva or gran reserva. And the different levels are determined by how long the wine has been aged by the producer, in oak barrels and in bottle. For consumers, this is a way to identify different Rioja wines. But many producers today in Rioja no longer feel comfortable with this classification. If they age their wines for a shorter period it becomes a crianza and thus, they say, less worthy in the eyes of the consumer, despite the fact that the wine may be of very high class.
Every now and then suggestions pop up that the old system should be scrapped and that producers instead should be allowed to put village names and even vineyard names on the label, much like in Burgundy. Currently, you can only put the three big areas on the label: Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja. Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja already has several suggestions to consider. For consumers, a change would be welcome. But in the end it is, as always, the producer’s name that is the most important.
Read more on the new proposal for division of the Rioja wines: decanter.com.
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