Typicality of Rioja wines: identification of sensory profiles for the three subregions of DOCa Rioja
Within the DOCa Rioja three main production areas are differentiated: Rioja Alta (RA), Rioja Alavesa (RAv) and Rioja Oriental (RO). They are three diverse territories with particular characteristics that are claimed to give rise to differentiated profiles. The present work aims at evaluating the sensory diversity of young commercial red wines in these three subregions. Therefore 30 young red wines (mainly Tempranillo and vintage 2021), ten from each subregion, were sensory described following a non-verbal free sorting task and a verbal free comment task by 32 well-established Rioja winemakers. The sorting task evidenced that the main sensory differences perceived were between Rioja Oriental and Rioja Alta/Rioja Alavesa. These differences were mainly attributed to colour intensity, body/structure and liquorice aroma, which were perceived with higher intensity in wines from Rioja Alta/Rioja Alavesa than in those from Rioja Oriental. The free description task showed shared sensory profiles but also specific sensory profiles for each of the three regions. Rioja Alta and Alavesa display a common sensory profile characterised with high colour intensity and purple-violet hue, high aroma intensity with fresh fruit and lactic aromas and high acidity. Similarly, Rioja Alavesa and Oriental share a prototype of wine described with low colour and medium aromatic intensities, grassy and fresh aroma, and powerful tannin with low acidity. Regarding specific characteristics, Rioja Alta presents a unique and typical profile with high colour intensity, ripe fruit, spicy and balsamic/mint aromas with powerful tannins. Rioja Alavesa´s typical profile is characterised by medium colour intensity, gummy candy, fresh fruit, lactic and floral aroma, with silky, and mellow mouthfeel. The characteristic profile for Rioja Oriental was moderate colour intensity with ruby-garnet hue, dried fruit, jammy fruit, alcohol and spicy aromas and light in mouth. This project is of particular importance since it is the first-time scientific research tries to distinguish between the three subregions of DOCa Rioja and attempts to provide a sensory identity, contributing at the same time to a better understanding of the notion of typicity in wine.
Acknowledgements: This project was funded by the Instituto de Estudios Riojanos (call 2022).
Issue: ICGWS 2023
1Instituto de Ciencias de la Vid y del Vino (Universidad de La Rioja-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Gobierno de La Rioja). Departamento de Enología, Logroño, La Rioja, Spain
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designated origin, red wine, typicity, free description, sorting task