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New Rioja president targets rise in exports

Spain's financial crisis means Rioja must redouble efforts to find drinkers abroad, the new president of the region’'s ruling council has said.

Exports of Rioja rose by 7.7% for the first six months of 2013 versus the same period of 2012, reaching 47.7m litres, and maintaining momentum will be the key focus for Luis Alberto Lecea, who became president of Rioja DOCa earlier this year.

Spain accounts for around 65% of annual Rioja DOCa wine sales by volume, and Alberto Lecea would like to even up the split. ‘To reach 50% in exports would be a great challenge and a great goal for us,’ he told decanter.com at the Wines from Rioja trade tasting in London.

While he doesn’t want Rioja to drop volumes in Spain, he conceded that there is unlikely to be much growth on the domestic market.

Total wine consumption in Spain has fallen by a third since the year 2000, according to figures from the Organisation of Vine & Wine (OIV).

Younger people have turned away from a drink favoured by their parents, and there has also been marked decline in consumption during Spain’s economic crisis of the past few years. ‘The good news for us is that when young people do drink wine, they want DOCa,’ said Alberto Lecea.

Still, he said, ‘in the export market, there are many countries where we are starting to sell more’.

The UK remains Rioja’s largest export market, followed by Germany. However, Alberto Lecea said the Rioja DOCa council is also turning more of its attention to the US, as well as to key emerging markets, such as Mexico and China.

Written by Chris Mercer

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