Sales of Rioja hit record levels in 2015, driven by stronger demand for the Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva red categories, as well as white wines.

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According to the Rioja Control Board, demand for barrel aged Rioja meant that total Rioja sales in 2015 rose for the third consecutive year, by 1.13% versus 2014 to 388m bottles, or 284m litres. Sales by value increased by 5.33%.

Control board director general José Luis Lapuente highlighted the performance of the higher-value red wine categories, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva, where sales grew by volume and value.

These three categories sold 160m litres of wine in 2015 – nearly two-thirds of all the region’s red wine sales – with Rioja Reserva registering the strongest growth (+3.56%) and selling 62% of its wine overseas.

White wine sales rose 14% to 16.89m litres – their second consecutive year of double-digit increases – while rosé sales increased 17% (and were up 30% in Spain) to 14.52m litres.

Exports reached 106.6m litres, or 38.2% of all sales, but growth in the Spanish market matched international sales rises for the first time since the onset of the economic crisis.

‘Achieving this milestone in the current circumstances is due to the great strength of the Rioja brand and to the Rioja wine industry’s ability to adapt to market demands with a dynamic and innovative model which offers both confidence and security to consumers,’ said Lapuente.

The UK strengthened its position as the leading Rioja-importing country with a 2% increase in sales to 36.8m litres, and sales in China were up 34.5%, lifting it to sixth on the list of Rioja importers.

Sales in Ireland (+42%) and Canada (+23%) also performed well, but there were ‘slight’ drops in Germany, the US and Switzerland, as well as declines in traditional markets such as Sweden and Mexico.

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