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The Master of Wine Tim Atkin highlights Gómez Cruzado’s wines among the best from a changing Rioja

The wine critic includes Juan Antonio Leza and David González – the duo at the helm of this century-old winery – in his list of young winemakers who are changing the face of this region

Haro, 16 December 2015.-British Master of Wine and wine writer Tim Atkin has written a special report dedicated exclusively to Rioja’s D.O.Ca. to be published at what he deems a “crucial moment in the history of this region" when “the momentum of change is now unstoppable”. This region is currently undergoing a significant transformation and Atkin has selected Juan Antonio Leza and David González, the oenologists leading Gómez Cruzado's century-old winery, as members of the new generation of talented wine-makers who he claims "are changing the face of the region". Likewise, Atkin includes wines from this house, located in Haro’s Barrio de la Estación, as some of the best from Rioja D.O.Ca. Atkin also highlighted Montes Obaranes, a village wine that will form part of this winery’s terroir selection, as the ‘White Wine Discovery of the Year’.

“This report has been gestating for years”, explains the British writer and critic, who decided to spend a significant amount time in Rioja during 2015 getting to know wine-makers and visiting vineyards to further inform his report. Atkin tasted 532 wines during two visits to Rioja in June and September, an event hosted by the Regulatory Council in London, and at tastings hosted by the Rioja D.O.Ca. Regulatory Board. The Master of Wine also led a joint wine the tasting in Haro’s Barrio de la Estación in September, which was the first ever collaborative event organized by the wineries located in this privileged corner of Rioja.

According to Atkin, Montes Obarenes 2013 is Rioja D.O.Ca.’s White Wine Discovery of the Year. This Viura (95%) and Tempranillo white (15%) will join Gómez Cruzado’s village wines collection in 2016, which the winery calls its Terroir Selection. The Viura grape, from Villalba and Haro, represents the starting point for this wine that the Wine Master defines as “complex, leesy, citrus and stone fruit white, complemented by baking spices, a touch of oak and a long, refreshing finish. A wine to watch”, once being tasted en primeur.

Change in Rioja: “Now or Never”

Tim Atkin insists that the recent movement in Rioja towards a legal framework that would classify and protect its land and village wines and reflect such classifications in wine bottle labels is "a question of now or never. Rioja is indubitably a success story, but it is also a victim of that success”. Atkin goes on to explain, “wine lovers should be able to discuss the differences between Rioja’s villages in exactly the same way they do those of Barolo and Burgundy. Instead, Rioja is sold as a generic block”.

The Master of Wine makes clear his opinion regarding the cream of the crop in Rioja: “What increasingly separates the best Rioja wineries from the rest is not an attachment to modern or traditional precepts, but something much more important: they care about their vineyards and want to express them in the bottle, relying on fruit quality rather than cellar techniques to make wine”. Atkin estimates "that around 25% of Rioja’s wines have a specific sense of origin”. Atkin also describes himself as a passionate enthusiast of this region and maintains that: “Rioja has only expressed a small part of its potential, hamstrung by regulations that are sometimes nonsensical and by an image that is way too downmarket”.

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AVDA. DE VIZCAYA, Nº 6 · APDO. DE CORREOS Nº 34 · 26200, HARO, LA RIOJA (SPAIN)T. (+34) 941 312 502 · F. (+34) 941 303 567 · bodega@gomezcruzado.com

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