The Rioja Renaissance 2019
The Rioja Renaissance – The Exciting New Breed breathing Life into One Europe’s Most Revered Wine Regions
Rioja is going through a moment, an epoch, a (re)defining shift in its identity. As Josh Raynolds wrote earlier this year, it is a: seismic shift that has opened the way for a new breed of ambitious and talented producers to rediscover the true identity of the Rioja region/s: an identity that has long been subsumed by the industrial wine complex that saw more commercial gain in dumbing down the world’s understanding of the wines of this multi-layered region rather than emphasise the beauty of it’s diversity. Of course, this paradigm was conveniently enshrined by the wine laws which were, of course, controlled by those making this kind of wine.
That’s all changing! The new breed are making wines that emphasise the vibrancy and efficacy of the fruit and the ground in which its grown. If oak is being used then it’s being kept in balance and extraction and alcohols are being controlled. Many are naming the village or the vineyard (or both) on the labels from whence the grapes are harvested in recognition of the pre-industrial wines when regional typicity meant something. On top of all that, there are significant rule changes that recognise this new way of thinking. The producer can now label the wine under the Municipio or village designation and, even more surprising is the new designation within the law whereby a producer can state the name of an approved single site or Vinedo Singular.
This small tasting and offer highlights two of the better producers, Artuke and Tentenublo, who are slap bang in the middle of the new putsch and they are making remarkable wines. MICHAEL MCNAMARA