Global consumption of Rioja wines hit an all-time record in 2013 as Spain's domestic drinkers rediscovered one of the country's best-known wine regions.
Spanish consumers appear to be reappraising Rioja, trade body Wines from Rioja said today (19 February). It announced a 4% increase in global Rioja wine sales for 2013 versus 2012, to a record 277m litres – equivalent to 369m bottles.
It is the first time Rioja wines consumption has risen in Spain since 2008. Total wine consumption in Spain has fallen by a third since the year 2000, according to figures from the Organisation of Vine & Wine (OIV).
A Wines from Rioja spokesperson told decanter.com the recent recovery in Rioja sales is reassuring. ‘We’re confident that this encouraging trend will continue into 2014.’
The wider world is also consuming more expensive wines from Rioja, said the trade body, without providing value sales figures.
In particular, volume sales of Grand Reservas increased by 17% in both Spain and export markets last year, albeit global sales of 5.87m litres fits around 17 times into worldwide sales of Rioja Crianza, which stood at 101.5m litres.
Crianza remains crucial as an entry-point for new drinkers, a Wines from Rioja spokesperson said. In Spain, ‘with the younger generation often choosing beer over wine, the Crianza category is key to helping us convert them’, he said.
The UK continues to be a major market, even though a report by Accolade Wines two years ago found that only one in four consumers surveyed knew Rioja was a winemaking region.
One of the leading Rioja labels, Campo Viejo, saw sales increase by around a quarter in the second half of 2013, versus the same period of 2012, brand owner Pernod Ricard revealed during a briefing in London this week.
Beyond the UK, Wines from Rioja said volume sales to Belgium and Russia rose by close to a third last year, while the exports of Reserva wines to the US jumped by 48%, following a strong marketing spend by the Rioja DOCa council.
Globally, the overall sales figure for 2013 masked a 9.4% drop in volume sales of white Rioja wines, to 13m litres. That meant rose wine sales from the region overtook white varietals, rising by 3% to 13.34m litres for the year.
Written by Chris Mercer