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Rioja produces first commercial sweet wines

Two Rioja producers have revived the region’s tradition of producing late-harvest wines.

Raisined Viura in January, Bodegas Loli Casado

Dinastía Vivanco in Rioja Alta and Bodegas Loli Casado in Rioja Alavesa are among the first to make commercially available sweet wines known locally as ‘supurados’.

These were historically made from grapes dried through the winter in lofts and made into dessert wines for special occasions.

Dinastía Vivanco’s Colección Vivanco 4 Varietales Dulce de Invierno 2009 is made from partially botrytised Tempranillo, Graciano, Garnacha and Mazuelo grapes taken from the producer’s El Cantillo vineyard, in Briones close to the River Ebro.

Bordeaux-trained winemaker Rafael Vivanco fermented and aged the wine in French oak before ageing it in bottles for 12 months before release. The wine is pale orange in colour and is classed as a rosé.

Bodegas Loli Casado, a defender of local varieties, has made a sweet white from the Viura grape.

‘Last October we left a section of 80-year-old vines in our La Llana vineyard and allowed the wind, autumn sun, and cold winter temperatures to naturally raisin the grapes,’ winemaker Loli Casado said.

It will be released as a young sweet wine for around €12, while Dinastía Vivanco’s rosé, already available in Spain, will go into international markets for €21

Rioja’s Consejo Regulador is in the process of modifying regulations regarding sweet wines. Currently producers can make semi-sweet and sweet white or rosé wines but not reds.

Forthcoming changes will allow off-dry and medium-dry reds, whites and rosés to be made.

Written by Patricia Langton

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