The President of the Consejo Regulador, Luis Alberto Lecea, and the Grand Master of the Rioja Brotherhood, have awarded a special recognition to the well- known journalist and Master of Wine, Tim Atkin, by welcoming him into the Cofrade de Merito de Vino del Rioja. The ceremony took place at the Consejo Regulador and was attended by members of the Junta de Altos Dignatarios de la Cofradía.
On receiving his ‘cepazo’ from the ‘Gran Maestro’ Tim Atkin revealed that Rioja will always have a special place in his heart, as it was one of the first wine regions he visited when he started his professional career in 1986. “I love its people, its land, its styles of wine, and it seems to me that Rioja is at a critical moment in its journey. I believe that Rioja needs to promote the diversity of its terroir as much as possible, as Rioja is known the world over for producing high quality wines, but in my opinion, the majority of these are sold too cheaply’.
Tim Atkin, a recognised authority on Rioja, has been writing about wine for 30 years and has won more than 25 awards for his work in newspapers such as The Times and The Observer. He’s the proud owner of five Glenfiddich awards, four Lanson awards and has been voted UK wine columnist of the year on four occasions. In 2007 he was awarded international wine communicator of the year by the International Wine & Spirit Competition. He currently contributes to numerous publications including The World of Fine Wine, Intelligent Life, Gourmet Traveller Wine, Imbibe, Decanter, Wine-Searcher, Fine Drink (China), Woman & Home and is a regular on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. He is also one of the chairmen of the International Wine Challenge, one of the most prestigious wine competitions in the world.
In 2007, he named Rioja D.O.Ca ‘Wine Region of the Year’ stating that ‘the region is producing some brilliant, Tempranillo based reds, working with its strong heritage and winemaking traditions but bringing in modern elements and more structure to is wines’. On a previous visit to Rioja in October 2008, he said ‘Rioja is synonymous with quality, consistency and unlike other wine regions, never goes out of fashion’. His recommendation was that rather than make wines to please the critics, the region should focus on making the most of ‘its ability to make its own style of wines, respecting the particularities of each vineyard, each winemaker and each variety’.
As noted by the President of the Consejo Regulador, his work as a journalist has made an important contribution to the popularity of Rioja wine on the UK market, which is the most important importer of Rioja wines and which has seen a positive increase in the last few years. In 2014, exports of Rioja to the UK reached 36 million litres, a 10% increase on the previous year, demonstrating its stand out position as Rioja’s number one importer, representing 35% of total exports from the region.