There are decisions that have marked the path of the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin and have brought great benefits to the sector, such as the application of the wine maturing system in the 1970s and the emergence of the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin in 1991.
However, this has not been enough to recognise the great diversity within the region, or to provide protection for such important assets as the old vineyards or different terroirs, estates or areas from where the better quality wines come. Rather, it has allowed wines of dubious quality to be marketed under the Rioja brand at ridiculously low prices; which has only led to confusion for the consumer and harm for those within the Denomination who do a great job. You cannot have a Reserve wine selling for €3 with the same rating as another selling for €30, or young wines and crianzas competing with table wines.
Thus, the time has come to act on the three basic pillars regulating the Denomination: producing, maturing and qualifying wines.
Regarding production, we agree yields must be allocated in accordance with the particularities of the land and these controls strictly implemented. This is the most sensible way to improve the quality of the grapes and protect old vines.
For maturing, there must be greater controls to ensure the suitability of wines for ageing, such that not any wine can be chosen, and with very old barrels with no control over them.
In addition, there should not be a single classification, but different ones that recognise the singularity of the wines from the origin in the vineyard.
Thus, the best way to recognise the diversity of the Denomination would be to classify wines as from villages, plots or estates, providing greater recognition for quality and improving the image of the wines on the market.
All these changes are more necessary than ever if we want Rioja wines to remain a guarantee of quality for the consumer for many years to come.