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White Rioja shortage pushes Marques de Caceres into Rueda

One of Rioja's top producers, Marques de Caceres, has said a shortage of white grape varieties in the region prompted it to purchase more than 100 hectares of vines in Rueda to satisfy its white wine ambitions.

Marques de Caceres plans to produce quality Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc from the 125 hectares of Rueda vineyards it has acquired near the villages of La Seca and Serrada. Financial details were not disclosed.

Company president Cristina Forner told decanter.com that the expansion is to ‘make up for a shortage of white grape varieties’ in the firm’s native Rioja.

‘As in 2012, the volume of white grapes collected from the 2013 [Rioja] harvest was insufficient to cover demand, causing significant increases in prices, whilst the yields are becoming more limited as the vineyards grow older,’ Forner said.

A proposal by the DOCa Rioja council to allocate an extra 2,500ha of planting rights for white grape varieties has not been fully implemented, because of disagreements between producers. White grapes account for 6% of Rioja DOCa vineyard area.

‘In recent years, the DOCa Rioja has lost opportunities to strengthen its volumes of white wines,’ Forner said.

‘This situation has driven us to invest in Rueda at the end of 2013 to guarantee excellent quality going forward, for the vineyards we have purchased are more than 20 years old and prices are stable.’

Forner added, ‘We are confident with regard to the quality grapes produced by the Rueda DO’.

While Rueda produces wines at a range of price levels, she said Marques de Caceres will focus on wines aimed at ‘more exclusive distribution circuits’ within Spain and among its 130 export markets.

In April, the group will begin building a winemaking cellar next to its acquired vineyards that is set to be ready for the 2014 Rueda harvest.

Written by Chris Mercer

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