Global Rioja sales have continued their resurgence started in 2013, reaching a record 281m litres last year and with exports up by 3.5%, show official figures.
Rising demand for white Rioja and Gran Reserva reds within Spain, plus increased popularity for barrel-aged reds in general in export markets, saw overall Rioja sales reach the equivalent of 375m bottles in 2014. That is a 1.4% rise on 2013, said the Rioja DOCa council.
The news comes as Spain is challenging France’s position as world’s biggest wine exporter nation.
Rioja exports increased by 3.5% in 2014, a slower pace than in 2013 but still a sign of solid demand from key markets, such as the UK, Germany, US and Switzerland.
Exports to the UK rose by 10% to reach the equivalent of 48m bottles, meaning that the UK accounted for a third of Rioja’s export volumes last year.
The DOCa council referenced a survey by the Wine Intelligence research agency last year that found Rioja was one of the best known wine regions among consumers, and commanded strong loyalty as a brand.
Rioja sales in Spain remained stable last year, which the council said was a positive outcome given the overall decline in wine consumption in the country. But, domestic white Rioja sales did jump by nearly 28% versus 2013, to around 13m bottles, following poor sales in previous years.
Rioja producers’ strategy of focusing on barrel-aged wines also contributed to their success both in Spain and in export markets. Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva wines accounted around 62% of sales last year.
Gran Reserva sales rose by 50% in Spain to 2.7m bottles, while unaged Rioja reds saw volume sales slip by 7%.
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Written by Liz Sands and Chris Mercer