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Rioja breaks all records in Russia

Around 1,000 people attended the 4th Rioja Wine Show organised by the Control Board last Wednesday in the Baltschug Kempinski Hotel in Moscow.

A host of wine sector professionals came together in the Russian capital to learn about the latest trends in Rioja wines and to taste the wines of the more than 60 wineries that travelled to Russia to take part in the event.

A new feature of this event is that it was open to end consumers, as well as wine importers, sommeliers, buyers, educators and restaurant trade professionals, who gave a seminar on the latest decisions taken in Rioja and presented the new global brand concept Saber Quién Eres.
As part of the advertising and communication plan that the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja is rolling out in Russia, the eighth biggest market for the region’s wine exports, the Control Board also organised the 4th Rioja Wine Show which on this occasion was attended by 64 wineries from Rioja and 115 representative brands (as compared to the 40 wineries that took part in the previous edition in 2016).

The event was directed at market operators either with or without an importer, and the objective was to provide wineries with the chance to get together with some of the top professionals and opinion leaders to achieve greater penetration in Russia.

José Luis Lapuente, the general director of the Control Board, held a private meeting with importers at which, as well as getting a first-hand insight into the Region’s current situation, they were able to learn much more about the latest news with regard to legislative matters. Sommeliers, buyers and hospitality industry professionals showed a particular interest in white wines as well as the new geographical indications and the wine tourism strategy.

During the seminar, the new global brand message, Saber Quién Eres, was presented to a group of around fifty trade professionals and opinion leaders. The new advertising campaign, based on the region’s values of tradition, diversity and origin, was launched last March and to date has been presented in eight of the key markets for Rioja wines: Spain, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Mexico and Russia.

Leonid Gelibterman, a respected wine expert and the official Rioja educator in Russia, led a tasting session based on the history of Rioja which took a journey through the past and present to the future of the Region. Gelibterman asserted that the “great variety of Rioja wines makes this meeting a unique opportunity for the almost one thousand Russian wine professionals to get access to all kinds of very high level wineries. This year the show has exceeded all expectations, as well as previous editions, and is now an absolutely essential event for Russian wine professionals.” Meanwhile, Angelica Subbotina, an official Rioja educator, emphasised “how Rioja has been able to round off its traditional system by incorporating changes that make it such a vibrant brand, with the capacity to continue moving forward into the future.”

A new feature this year was the inclusion of a session aimed at end consumers. Several of the country’s most prestigious wine and gourmet clubs attended the event, enabling the general public, who are increasingly seeking out Rioja wines for everyday drinking thanks to their proven versatility when paired with Russian cuisine, also took part in the experience.

The Spanish ambassador to Russia, Ignacio Ybañez, the Minister-Councillor, Ignacio García-Valdecasas, and the officer in charge of wines at the trade office, David Feijóo, all visited the trade fair and shared their views with the many winemakers present. The ambassador emphasised and applauded the outstanding response from trade professionals and consumers, a factor that was also reflected in social media exchanges throughout the meeting.

In addition to the general director, the Board was also represented by the president of the Promotional Committee, Íñigo Torres; marketing manager Ricardo Aguiriano; and press officer Marta Echávarri.

Russia has become one of the key markets for Rioja wine sales, having exhibited a very positive upward trend in the last few years, especially since it was allocated its own promotional campaign in 2014. The results for 2017 ratified the huge potential of Russia for Rioja wine exports, with a 40% increase in end-of-year figures compared to 2016. Over the last twelve months, Rioja wine sales have risen by 29% in terms of volume and 43% in value, and there are now 65 Riojan wineries exporting to this market.