11th January, 2016 by Lucy Shaw
Over 150 winemakers, merchants and wine writers have signed a manifesto in defence of Spanish terroir amid rising opposition towards the governing bodies in the country’s top DOs.
Led by outspoken Spanish winemaker Telmo Rodriguez, the manifesto seeks to combat the close-minded nature of a lot of the regulations enforced by the governing bodies in regions like Rioja and Ribera del Duero.
A longtime champion of the quality of Spain’s terroir and the need to tell the terroir story to consumers, Rodriguez runs his family estate Remelluri in Rioja and other boutique projects across Spain.
Last July, Rodriguez admitted Rioja had become “a victim of its own success“. “The way the big wineries are working today is unsustainable – you can’t make a quality crianza for €3 – it’s a dangerous route to take.
“There are two Riojas: industrial and artisanal. The region’s future lies with the latter. There are beautiful villages in Rioja and we need to be showing the place not the process, which is so boring,” he said.
“There’s too much talk about oak and ageing in Rioja – we’ve lost our sense of place. We have to be serious and talk terroir – even the trade doesn’t know about the different villages in Rioja,” he added.
The manifesto aims to highlight the potential of Spain’s top terroirs and shift the focus in Spain towards its rich winemaking heritage and away cheap, mass-produced wine with no sense of place. Enclosed is an excerpt from the text.
“The Spanish appellation system has been oblivious to soil differentiation and levels of quality. Efforts have been aimed at turning our vineyards into the world’s biggest, not the best. Deep changes are needed to boost our wine heritage.
“The best way to identify wines based on their origin, quality and authenticity is by a pyramid structure, with wines made anywhere in the region at the base; village wines a step above and single-vineyard wines at the top.
“We call upon the Regulatory Boards to be sensitive to the new wine reality that is emerging all over Spain and to approach a classification of the land in terms of quality.”
Among those to have signed the manifesto are Miguel Angel de Gregorio of Finca Allende, Artadi’s Juan Carlos Lopez de Lacalle, Peter Siseck of Pingus, Jesus Barquin of Equipo Navazos, and wine writers Victor de la Serna.
There has been growing unrest in Rioja in particular between terroir-focused producers who feel that regulations enforced by the Consejo Regulador are not only holding them back but communicating the wrong message.
In late December, Juan Carlos Lopez de Lacalle of Artadi quit the Rioja DOCa, sending out a strong message about his feelings towards the Conesejo Regualdor. It will be interesting to see if any other producers follow suit.
Among those to sign the manifesto was Tim Akin MW, who questioned the Rioja DO’s refusal to recognise village names and geographic areas on Rioja labels in his recently published Rioja report.
“It is surely time for villages and vineyard names to be permitted on labels. The differences between, say, Labastida and Villabuena de Álava, situated a few miles apart, should be as familiar to wine lovers as those between Nuits St Georges and Chambolle-Musigny,” he wrote.
Comentario de / Comment of Wines Inform Assessors:
No estoy seguro de que el problema sea poner el nombre de un pueblo ... Creo que la diferencia entre productores viene dada por los valores y el trabajo de cada bodega
Wines Inform Assessors, Barcelona
I’m not sure the issue is to put the name of a village..I think the difference between producers is made by the values and work of each winery
Wines Inform Assessors, Barcelona
Origin information: The Drinks Business