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Pope Benedict XVI likes La Rioja Wines

Posted: Saturday, 02 February 2013 13:55

Pope Benedict XVI likes La Rioja Wines

Feb 02: While the religious and social sentiments and their political and bureaucratic offshoot continue to hinder the wine consumption due to the government policies equating wine with hard liquor, our Catholic wine connoisseurs and especially those from Spain would be glad to know that Pope Benedict XVI likes wines from Rioja besides German beer

It's not very common, for Benedict XVI to talk about his personal taste, but he did just that when he met with the tribunal of the Roman Rota. He greeted the judges one by one, and when he spoke with a judge from Spain's La Rioja region, he made a comment about the wine produced in that area.

“I'm from La Rioja, Holy Father,” says the judge from La Rioja in the video. “Oh, from Rioja. Very good wine!” replies the holy man of Vatican

As a German he does like beer and typical Bavarian cuisine. He's also said that he likes the Fanta orange flavored soft drink, the second oldest brand of Coca Cola and second most popular brand of the company outside the US.

'It's thanks to these audiences that one can learn more about the personal tastes of the Pope. As a theologian, it's widely known that he's an intellectual. He loves music and books. He's not a big fan of sports, but in his free time he does enjoy playing the piano. Now, we know that from time to time, he also enjoys his meal with a glass of wine from La Rioja', says the news report by Rome Reports. For the Report and the video, kindly visit

For a long time, Rioja has been considered the Burgundy of Spain ... and also its Bordeaux, despite using totally different and indigenous grapes like Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano. Rioja Alta's cool climate mirrors that of Burgundy. The region presents a fragmented picture because of the ‘parcelisation’ of vineyards as a result of the laws of hereditary transfers of land, which are similar to the Napoleonic laws that are responsible for the very small sizes of the vineyards in Burgundy.

Although Rioja has been producing wine for 2,200 years, the defining moment came when many of the producers from Bordeaux who were hit by phylloxera in the 1870s decided to set up their own Bodegas (wineries) in the region. The town of Haro (pronounced ah-row) was already linked with Bordeaux by rail and so it became La Rioja's wine capital.

It is important to understand the difference between Rioja and La Rioja. Rioja is the Appellation (an equivalent of AOC in France and DOC in Italy). DO is a common Denominacion de Origen appellation. DOCa, or DO Calcificada, signifies wines of consistent higher quality and DO Rioja was the first to be promoted to DOCa status in 1991- Priorat and Cava are the two other regions that earned this honour subsequently.

Some of our earlier related articles on La Rioja are:
Spain's 'Burdeaux': La Rioja's Journey to the World Stage
Marquesa de Ca`ceres – Cristina Forner
Rioja Masterclass: Olive Oil and Wines from Roda

It will be interesting to see if this voluntary disclosure by the Pope makes Catholics rush to the wine shops and pick up a bottle or case of La Rioja red wines. These wines are not exactly cheap and due to the ever-gaining popularity even before the Pope disclosed his liking for the wine, the prices have been rising steadily making it tougher to sell and for the region to grow during the previous  decade.

However, it will hopefully help change the minds of the Indian government, politicians and the fundamentalist non drinkers to appreciate that wine must not be equated with alcohol, hard liquor or treated like a thing of beauty to be talked about only in hush-hush tones.

Subhash Arora

Tags: Pope Benedict XVI, La Rioja, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Haro, Rioja, Denominacion de Origen, DOCa, DO Calcificada, Priorat, Cava


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