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Rioja Recgonises awards announced






London, Tuesday 10th November: Six industry personalities were honoured by the Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja last night at the inaugural Rioja Recognises awards. During a canapé reception at Hispania London, where guests enjoyed a selection of wines from the earlier Rioja 10x10 trade tasting, the Consejo’s President, José Maria Daroca, along with Charles Metcalfe as compere, presented Sarah Jane Evans MW and Tim Atkin MW with ‘Outstanding Contribution’ awards for their ongoing commitment and support of the Rioja category.

An ever thankful Olly Smith was recognised as Communicator of the Year, and leading Spanish chef José Pizarro received an award for On-Trade Personality of the Year for ongoing support and enthusiasm for Rioja wines.

Beth Willard was recognised as Off-Trade Personality of the Year for her efforts with Laithwaites before Distributor of the Year was named as Matthew Clark’s long-standing purchasing director of wine, Simon Jerrome.

Delighted in his win, Olly Smith commented: “I’m delighted to accept this award from Rioja, a wine region which perfectly balances tradition with a zest for communicating its passion for wine in an invigoratingly modern way. I salute these inventive wineries for engaging and encouraging consumers the world over to sample for themselves the hoard of diversity from this world class treasury of vineyards, skill and invention. Hooray!”

Chef José Pizarro was equally as delighted: “It is an honour to receive this award so thanks to all of you for giving me this opportunity. It means a lot for me to be recognised by Rioja, a region well-known for the amazing wines it has produced for many years."

And of his award for Outstanding Contribution, Tim Atkin MW, who was unable to attend, commented: “Thank you very much for giving me this award which means a lot to me. Rioja was among the first regions I ever visited as a wine writer, back in 1986, and it still occupies a special place in my heart. I am convinced that Rioja's best days and vintages lie in the future, thanks to a new generation of dynamic winemakers, an increased focus on wines that reflect place, as opposed to pan-regional blends, and a growing recognition that the area produces some of the great wines, not only of Spain, but of the world.”

Ricardo Aguirano, Marketing Director for the Consejo Regulador comments: “This evening, Rioja Recognises has been the perfect opportunity for us to show our gratitude to those within the industry who are helping us to continually grow the category in the UK. Their commitment to growing awareness and affinity for the region amongst consumers has been second-to-none. We look forward to working with these personalities on their continued commitment to the category as well as seeking out new champions for next year.”

Earlier in the day guests had enjoyed exploring the top 100 Rioja wines, specially selected by an expert panel, at the Rioja 10 x 10 trade tasting. The 100 wines were selected from over 400 wines which were tasted blind by a distinguished panel of twelve experts including wine buyers, writers and specialists, chaired by Tim Atkin MW and Sarah Jane Evans MW.



For more information, please contact Phipps on 020 7759 7400 or email