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Spanish Wines classification

Vines have been cultivated in Spain for thousands of years; long before the Romans conquered the country they called Hispania. Today Spain is the third largest producer of wines in the world and the largest grower of vines by area. It is also the country using the largest number of native varieties, said to be over 400. For a long time Spain produced simple, strong and alcoholic bulk wines meant for early and local consumption.
Things changed somewhat when French wine makers arrived in Spain in the 19th century after the phylloxera louse devastated the vineyards there. Their expertise and knowledge improved the quality of Spanish wines and especially those of Rioja. In 1926 first steps were taken to regulate the production of quality wines in Rioja. Improvements accelerated after the death of Franco in 1975 and especially after Spain joined the EU (European Union) in 1986. Spain adopted International wine making techniques and by now has been recognized as serious and first class producer of high grade quality wines the production of which is now considerably larger than the one of ordinary bulk wines.

The Spanish wine classification system is similar to the French and the Italian classification system. In 1932 the first regulation was established. It was up dated in 1970 and later adjustments to comply with respective EU (European Union) regulations. INDO the Instituto Nacional de Denominaciones de Origen is the national institution which governs the regulation, however, each autonomous region administers it and is supported in this task by a regional administrative body made up of growers, traders, wineries and representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture. Together they decide such things as the applicable boundaries, grape varieties, degree of alcohol, permitted yields and other matters pertaining to the growing and making of regional wines. Spain has five wine classifications :

DO de Pago, Sp. Denominación de Origen de Pago

(of strictly designated origin); quite unique in its way this classification regulates (very strictly) only 10 estates (vineyards), not regions or areas. All of these estates are well known internationally. The name of the classification may be changed to VPP (Vino de Pago Protegida) in the future.

DOCa Sp. Denominación de Origen Calificada

(of denominated and qualified Origin). Similar to the Italian DOCG the areas and wines, which qualify, must have a record of consistent high quality. Since it institution three areas have qualified, Rioja was the first region in 1991, followed in 2003 by Priorat and which, in 2008, was followed by Ribera del Duero. The name of the classification may be changed to DOPCa/DOPQ - Denominación de Origen Protegida y Calificada/Qualificada.

DO Sp. Denominación de Origen

(of denominated origin). Nearly 2/3 of the wines produced in Spain belong to this category of wines. More than 60 regions have been granted the status. The wines have, of course, to comply with a variety of quality standards. Nowadays these are excellent quality wines and often are offered at very reasonable prices. The name of the classification may be changed to DOP - Denominación de Origen Protegida.

VdlT Sp. Vinos de la Tierra

(Country wines). Like other Country win regulations in Europe the wines must be come from designated regions (which can be quite large) such as La Mancha, Levante etc. There are over 40 such regulated regions in Spain. The name of the classification may be changed to IGP - Indicación Geográfica Protegida.

Vino de Mesa

(Table wine). Table wines, like in other EU countries can be made of blends from all regions of the country. They do not have an area or vintage designation on the label. In Spain, like in other EU countries, the production of Table wines has decreased considerably during the last years. The name of the classification may be change to Viñedos de España in the future.

Other designations related to the aging of a wine and stated on the front or back label of the bottle have been regulated as follows:
Joven: The word means “young”. These are young wines which, as a rule, have not undergone barrel ageing. They are mostly fruity and meant to be drunk young.

Roble or Barrica: Barrica means barrel and Roble means oak. The designation identifies wines  that have undergone some barrel ageing below the Crianza level, as a rule, for between 3 ~ 5 months.

Crianza: Crianza means “nursing”. Crianza wines must have been aged in oak for at least 6 months but higher quality wines often mature for 12 months in barrels. Reds must be aged for at least 6 months in barrels and for 2 years in total before being released. Whites and Roses must be aged for one year with at least 6 months in oak

Reserva: These wines are more complex. Reds must be aged for 3 years and at least one year in oak. Whites and Roses must be aged for 2 years and at least 6 months in oak.

Gran Reserva: These wines are generally made only in excellent vintage years. Reds must have been aged for at least two years in oak and three years in the bottle before being released. Whites and Roses must have been aged for at least four years and of this at least 6 months in oak before being released. It should be noted thay many Gran Reserva wines are released later and can still be cellared for years to come.


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231-0862 Yokohama,Naka-Ku,
Yamate-cho 155-7, Japan

Tel : 045-232-4499
Fax : 045-623-7906