We are looking for the ‘ace of glasses’, the professional from all over the country who demonstrates the greatest knowledge of traditional Rioja areas and varieties in a blind tasting. Bodegas Familiares de Rioja is organising the First ARGRAF Award for the best sommelier of the ‘Other Rioja’, a tasting competition exclusively for sommeliers (distribution and catering) with a significant cash prize of 5. We have been working for years in the association with a regionalisation of the designation of origin that, following the geographical features, goes beyond the traditional official division of areas (Rioja Alta, Alavesa and Oriental) and arouses considerable interest among professionals,” explains Ana Jiménez, coordinator of the winemaking group, “What we want with this competition is to create a new wine region in the Rioja region. What we want with this competition,” she continues, “is for people to have fun, to be encouraged to test their knowledge, but above all to enjoy different wine profiles and styles and to get to know the extraordinary diversity of wines that we group together under the Bodegas Familiares de Rioja label.

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In collaboration with the ARGRAF group, leader by far in Spain and one of the largest in Europe in the design and printing of wine and food labels, Bodegas Familiares is launching this original competition to be held at the Delicatto restaurant (Logroño) on 18 March, coinciding with the traditional presentation party for the 2023 vintage wines: “For us -continues Ana Jiménez-, it is very important, and we greatly appreciate the full support of a company like ARGRAF to an event of a large but modest association like ours, and with a strong implantation and territorial roots throughout the geography of the wine-growing region”.

Alberto Torroba, general manager of ARGRAF, pointed out that “we are the leading national group in wine labelling, but we are also deeply rooted in this wine region and we work regularly with many of these family wineries that require special designs and printing, so we could not miss this first competition that we believe will generate great interest among professionals in the hotel and catering and distribution sectors”. Alberto Torroba specified that the ARGRAF Award for the best Rioja sommelier of the ‘Other Rioja’ will have a prize of 3,000 euros for the first place winner, along with another ARGRAF prize of 1,000 euros for the second place winner and two ARGRAF runners-up prizes of 500 euros each for the third and fourth place winners.

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The tasting

Pedro Salguero, a former Control Board overseer with more than 35 years of experience, is in charge of the technical organisation of the tastings: “We have selected eight wines from family wineries for each batch, trying to ensure that, beyond their price and quality, they reflect the identity of the area, although we will also include some infiltrators to throw people off the scent and have a good time with the professionals”. In this sense, the event will include two tasting rounds, in order of registration at www.laotrarioja.com, of which only the ten with the best scores will go through to the grand final.

Participants will be provided with a map showing the seven defined geographical areas of the Rioja wine region (Viñedos del Oja y el Tirón, Sonsierra, Riberas del Ebro de La Rioja Alta, Viñedos del Najerilla, Viñedos del Iregua y el Leza, Riberas del Ebro de La Rioja Baja y Navarra and Sierras de La Rioja Baja) and must mark with a cross where they consider the wine in question to come from. They must also fill in the grape variety of the wine (within the traditional and/or minority Rioja grape varieties, but always indigenous) and a third section on the method of winemaking: “The question of the area will be worth three points, two points for the variety and one for the type of winemaking,” explained Salguero. The competition,” he added, “is open to all professionals in the sommelier or wine trade who are active and we think it is an unprecedented formula so far in Rioja and a very fun way to showcase the extraordinary versatility of the wines that Bodegas Familiares de Rioja wineries offer today”.

The competition also coincides with the traditional presentation party of the 2023 vintage of Bodegas Familiares de Rioja, an event that, in addition to the main distributors and restaurants in the region, attracts numerous top-level professionals from the north of the country: “The wines in the tasting competition are, of course, a small selection of those that fifty wineries will offer to all the professionals attending the event,” explains Ana Jiménez.

First ARGRAF Award to the best sommelier of the Otra Rioja:

  • Dates: 18 March at the Delicatto restaurant (Logroño), with two previous rounds in the morning, with free registration at www.laotrarioja.com.
  • Classification: the first ten classified in both rounds, by score, will enter the final, which will be held in the same facilities of the Delicatto restaurant in the afternoon.
  • Methodology: guessing the geographical area (3 points), grape variety (2 points) and wine-making style (1 point) in a blind tasting.
  • More information (rules and registration) at www.laotrarioja.com
  • ARGRAF prizes: 3,000 euros for first place, 1,000 euros for second place and two runners-up prizes of 500 euros.

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