The Control Board of the D.O.Ca. Rioja has officially rated the 2014 vintage 'Good'. The wineries of the Designation of Origin produced a total of 312.89 million litres. This is the average rating of the wines that passed a strict approval process applied to 4,383 samples. These were taken directly from the wineries' tanks by Control Board personnel and subjected to laboratory and sensory tests. 293.52 million litres were ultimately approved (20.37 white, 14.99 rosé and 258.15 red).
The 2014 vintage shows a quantitative and qualitative improvement over last year. After a growing cycle with very favourable weather, Riojan vineyards showed excellent canopy development and plant health at the end of the ripening stage. This pointed to a great harvest in terms of both quality and quantity but adverse weather during the harvest only allowed forecasts to be partially fulfilled. Largely, it can be said that these expectations have been met, and this is reflected in the 'GOOD' rating, the result of wide heterogeneity in the wines. Nonetheless, there is a significant percentage of top quality wines which is sufficient to meet the requirements of aged wine categories. Particularly notable is the excellent quality of this vintage's rosés and whites, and aspect on which all 140 members of the Control Board Tasting Panel unanimously concur.
Coinciding with the thirtieth vintage since the implementation of the official vintage rating plan in Rioja, the Control Board has taken a further step in ensuring the utmost guarantees in the certification process —fundamental in turning Rioja wine into a quality wine benchmark. A new sensorial assessment process was put in place this year employing cutting-edge technology and applying new protocols in selecting and training the members of the rating Tasting Panel.
The organoleptic assessment of each sample is carried out with a computer application available to each taster on a tablet with the official OIV tasting form. This offers a significant advantage compared to completing the tasting forms by hand. It also provides results in real time, enabling the statistical analysis of a large volume of data. Over 7,500 samples are taken every year and subjected to lab tests and sensorial tastings. The samples are of both new wines and other wines taken at wineries and points of sale on the main markets.
In addition to its own technical staff, the Control Board has a Tasting Panel comprised of 140 renowned professional tasters. Both access to the Tasting Panel and permanence in it are restricted by a highly-demanding exam and individual follow-up. This ensures uniformity in tasting criteria.
The special condition of 'Calificada' bestowed upon the Rioja Designation of Origin requires that all wines made be subjected to exhaustive tests. Each tank of wine in each winery is sampled, providing highly reliable figures to base the final vintage rating, which is issued by the Rioja Control Board. This final rating is obtained through statistical calculations to ensure it is totally objective.
The 2014 Vintage certification and rating process began in November. Samples were taken by the Control Board Empowered Overseers Service in all the wineries that make wine. The samples are taken from batches of no more than 100,000 litres. The samples were then analysed at the laboratories of one of the three Designation of Origin Oenological Research Stations and assessed by the Control Board tasting committees. The requirements of the certification process have become stricter in recent years, with more demanding parameters seeking to maintain Rioja as a quality wine benchmark in all markets.
PICTURE OF TASTER / RATING:
The Control Board Tasting Panel consists of 140 industry professionals who must pass a demanding exam before they can join.
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