With a limited amount of space to fight for on ever decreasing wine lists, Rioja is one of the few regions outside of France that is pretty much guaranteed a place on the vast majority of restaurant, bar, and pub lists. So as a wine distributor to be recognised for your Rioja as well as your Spanish wine offer is doubly important. Which is why Paul Shinnie, Spanish wine buyer for Alliance Wine, was particularly pleased to pick up the ‘Distributor of the Year’ award at this month’s Rioja Recognises initiative run by Wines of Rioja.
With so many distributors all looking to source and bed in growers and producers in Rioja for long term partnerships it is becoming increasingly more difficult to have a range that is genuinely different from the rest. But it is what Alliance Wine has long set out to do, explains Paul Shinnie.
What is your reaction to winning this Rioja Recognises accolade from Wines of Rioja?
We are absolutely delighted to have won this award. We have been concentrating hard with the growers we work with in Rioja to develop existing range. It’s an exciting time to be involved in Rioja.
Why are Rioja wines an important part of your business?
In the same way as Rioja is important to Spanish sales in general. We have a partnership with three producers who work along lines that very much mirror our own obsession with vineyard and soil. Not only do the wines from these producers play an important commercial role for us, but they are, at the same time, aligned with our own aims.
Can you describe your Rioja portfolio and why you have chosen the selection you have?
We have been working hard with the growers we work with in Rioja to take our range to a level that encompasses all that Rioja has to offer. From satisfying humble wines to some of the most extraordinary, eclectic and forceful wines that reveal the full potential of the region.
Which styles and price points are selling the most?
Varietals as cosecha wines, with a little oak ageing.
How do you see yourselves developing your Rioja range in the year ahead?
We will certainly be placing more emphasis on individual vineyards and what they can do. We will also be doing all we can to champion Garnacha. Entering initiatives such as the Rioja 10×10 tasting is also important as it allows our wines to speak for themselves to key buyers.
How do you see Rioja wine in context with the rest of the Spanish wine category?
Rioja leads the Spanish wine campaign, but while consumers may see all Spanish wine in relation to Rioja, I don’t think adventurous producers in other regions are necessarily following the Rioja model where oak is such an important part of the style. High quality Riojas do help to raise the banner for quality wine production in Spain. That said I think Rioja could do more to assert and make the case for its own fruit and vineyards.
How do you think you are going to use this award in your business?
The decanter is already full – well half full now.
* You can catch up on all the Rioja Recognises award winners, that were celebrated at a special ceremony last week at London’s Hispania restaurant, in this specially produced mailer produced by The Buyer and Wines of Rioja.