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Premium Aged Riojas Swirl the U.S. Wine Scene

NEW YORK, Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The DOCa Rioja wine region announced today that exports of the Reserva and Gran Reserva category have consistently increased over the past several years, by over 30% so far as of June 2012, and by 57% in 2011, year over year. Demand has swung from younger, more modern-styled wines to the more classic, aged wines, showing that people's palates have expanded to the next level in favor of Rioja's traditional offering. While modern styles have maintained their appeal, the classic styles have increased in popularity dramatically.

"A few years ago, the modern style grew more favored in the U.S.," said Victor Pascual Artacho, Rioja DOCa Chairman. "While this style remains a popular choice, we are noticing an increasing demand on the U.S. market for traditional and classic Riojas in the premium aged categories." Leading U.S. wine writers have also noted these new consumer demands, including The Wine Advocate, The New York Times, The Huffington Post and Wine Spectator, among others.

Given Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva wines are generally priced in the $20 and over category, it came as no surprise that wines at this price point were the fastest-growing segment of the market by volume year-to-date through September 9, rising 18.4%, according to M. Shanken Daily. On-premise sales have also followed suit. According to Tylor Field, Vice President of Wine and Spirits at Morton's Steakhouse, "for the last couple of years, the Morton's Steakhouse concept has seen sales increases in the Reserva and Gran Reserva categories."

Selected from the best vintages with excellent ageing potential, Rioja Reservas and Gran Reservas are typically made in a more classic style that made Spain's most recognized wine region respected around the world. In the October issue of Wine Spectator's Rioja cover story, Executive Editor Thomas Matthews noted "Rioja has a glorious past. Propelled by a wave of innovation and investment in the late 19th century, a wine style merged that is now called traditional, producing supple, elegant reds with delicate flavors of dried fruits, tobacco and spices."

Wine writer Eric Asimov discussed in The New York Times how Gran Reservas overcame the worldwide consumer craze for plush, dark, bountiful flavors. He writes, "these graceful, elegant wines captivate both sensually — their polished textures feel so good in the mouth that you are drawn irresistibly to the next sip — and intellectually, by almost demanding your attention as you seek out each elusive nuance."

In a recent Huffington Post piece, Richard Jennings notes Rioja distinguishes itself as the region offering the best value for great quality. "For those of us looking for our aged red wine fix without having to pay exorbitant prices…a region that has long made high-quality, age worthy wines…is Rioja."

Recently in the news, younger traditional Riojas have also been described as exuding characteristics comparable to aged Riojas. In a recent Wine Advocate piece, Neil Martin wrote "Rioja boasts some wonderful Crianzas that are fresh and vibrant and can offer as much complexity as the Reserva or Gran Reserva."

Regardless of taste preference or budget, Rioja makes a versatile collection of elegant and food-friendly wines to please a crowd, from the casual consumer to the most discerning wine aficionado. With the holidays, and thus the busiest wine buying season just around the corner, demand for these classic wines of Rioja is forecasted to continue to climb through the end of 2012.

About Rioja

Located in north central Spain, Rioja is considered one of the greatest red wine regions of the world. Rioja reds are blended predominantly with the indigenous Tempranillo grape from one of the region's three subzones — Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. The DOCa of Rioja administers highly sophisticated and stringent quality control in the winemaking process, from viniculture to bottling. More than 200 brands from Rioja are available for purchase in the U.S. For more information, please visit