Everything you need to know about Rioja’s new rules

1. Viñedos Singulares

The most significant change to the nature of Rioja’s quality tiering comes with the addition of a completely new category, called Viñedos Singulares.

Designed to highlight the terroir and origins of the wine, as well as reflect the diversity of the region, it was introduced in June 2017.

As reported by db at the time, the new category followed a long-running battle over Spanish terroir between The Regulatory Council of the Designated Origin Denomination of Origin (DOCa) and more than 150 producers, who argued that the current appellation system was “oblivious to soil differentiation and levels of quality” and calling for “deep changes” to boost the countries heritage and prevent it valuing quantity over quality.

The new category can be used in conjunction with existing quality tiering in Rioja, which concerns the length of time a wine is aged in barrel and bottle.

Those who choose to use the new category must conform to the following requirements on the label:

• The commercial labels will show the vineyard name, which must be registered as a brand.
• The term ‘Viñedo Singular’ must appear directly underneath the vineyard name, and the text size must not be larger than the word ‘Rioja’ on the label.
• The guarantee seals on the back of the bottle will keep the traditional ageing classifications, but will now also include ‘Viñedo Singular’.
• The guarantee seal might read, ‘Crianza Viñedo Singular’, or ‘Gran Reserva Viñedo Singular’.

Meanwhile, the requirements for becoming a Viñedos Singulares are listed below:

• If grapes have been purchased from a grower, then the winery must have had a commercial partnership for at least 10 years.
• Vineyards must be at least 35 years old.
• Yields must be below those currently allowed for Rioja (Maximum of 5,000 kg/Ha. for 
red and 6,922 kg/Ha. for white).
• Volume of wine obtained for each 100 kg of grapes must be 65%.
• Vineyards must be well-balanced with limited vigour.
• Hand-harvested.
• Production traceability with prior checks.
• Double quality assessment which involves an initial certification and then certification prior to release which must receive a rating of ‘excellent’.

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