During Rioja’s annual celebratory wine festival, Cata del Barrio de la Estación de Haro, an interesting debate surfaced surrounding the century-long tradition of blending and the recent tentative step towards producing single vineyard wines.
Pedro Ballesteros MW stands firmly on the side of tradition with his opinion saying in his recent interview with Wine-Searcher, ‘It’s a concept very much in fashion to look at the difference between terroir and blend but you will never get a good blend if you don’t know your terroir intimately… Why should a wine from a single vineyard better than a wine from several unique vineyards?’
Presently, and possibly because these wines are still not officially recognised in Rioja, there are very few producers who have ventured into making single vineyard cuvées. Among these are some well-established bodegas, like Marques de Murrieta, Gomez Cruzado and Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España, which have begun producing single vineyard wines in an attempt to showcase Rioja’s different villages.
While those like Ballesteros admire the value that blending affords the wines of Rioja and are happy to continue with the region’s age-old practices, others are more open to discovering its many terroirs. Tim Atkin MW is of the latter’s mind, saying in a comment on the Wine-Searcher article, ‘Why does this have to be an either/or scenario? Why can’t it be both? Why not encourage producers to express their terroirs and give consumers the chance to understand the region and its different villages? I really can’t see how this can be detrimental to Rioja.’