Explore Spain wines

  • Wednesday, Day 27/01/2021
  • Spain is the third-largest wine producer in the world but has the largest area of land planted to vines. This is due to the very dry conditions in much of Spain and the low density of plantings.

    Protos winery
    Protos winery (old days)

     

    For many years, sherry was the only Spanish wine known to the wine-drinking public but then Rioja, Cava, Ribera del Duero, Penedès, Albariño, and many others become well known, while sherry has been in decline. Since the 1960s, Spanish wine has made enormous improvements due to modern winemaking equipment and technology, modern viticultural methods, and the importation of quality grape varieties. This has resulted in quality wines being produced in the areas where previously they were very ordinary. The traditional varietals Tempranillo, Garnacha, Cariñena and Monastrell (Mourvèdre) for red and Macabéo (Viura), Xarel-lo and Parellada for white have been joined by Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Muscat, Chardonnay and a number of other grape varieties. The new varietals have either been used to create completely new wines or been used in blends with the local varietals. The wines are now highly rated and their production and labeling are governed by the Instituto de Denominaciónes de Origen (INDO), which is controlled by administrative grower’s committees or Consejos regulados.

     

    There are six quality levels:

    • Vino d’Espagna, Vino de Mesa (VdM) is the lowest category table wine and may not be sold under a region or vintage.
    • Vino de la Tierra: Indicación Geográfica Protegida (IGP) is table wine of a delimited region and must contain a minimum of 60% from the stated region.
    • Vino de Calidad con Indicación Geográfica (VCIG) is for those who are attempting to be upgraded to DOP status, but they must wait for a minimum of 5 years at this level.
    • Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) is equivalent to the previous DO classification and AOP in France. These wines must wait for a minimum of 10 years at this level before they can be upgraded to DOCa.
    • Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa), called Denominación de Origen Qualificada (DOQ) in Catalan, is the highest classification.

    In 2006, there were 72 Denominaciónes de Origen (DOs), many of which are unknown outside Spain. With a number of other applications made, it is expected that the number of DOs will continue to increase for a number of years.

    The first region to receive DOCa status was Rioja in 1991; Priorat has become the second, but is known as DOQ as it is Catalan. All DOCa wines must be bottled in the bodega of origin. The Spanish wine law includes minimum requirements for aging descriptors although some DO/DOPs and DOCa’s stipulate longer periods in cask.

    A new classification, Vinos de Pagos, was introduced in 2003. This is for estate wines of, particularly high quality. Denominación Pagos are within existing DOs or DOCa.

    Monseran winery harvest the grapes
    Monseran winery harvest the grapes

     

    Aging criteria

    The barrel used in the regulation is called barricas (225 liter oak casks).

    Designation

    Red Wines

    White and Rosé Wines

    Minimum total aging (months)

    Minimum time spent in barrel (months)

    Minimum total aging (months)

    Minimum time spent in barrel (months)

    Joven

    0

    0

    0

    0

    Crianza

    24

    6

    12

    6

    Reserva

    36

    12

    24

    6

    Gran Reserva

    60

    18

    48

    6

     

    Some new aging qualification introduced in 2003 in addition to the above apply to Vino d’Espagna, Vino de la Tierra and Vino de Calidad con Indicación Geográfica (VCIG)

    • Noblé – The wine has been matured for 18 months in cask (maximum size 600 litres) or in bottle
    • Anejo - The wine has been aged for 24 months in cask (maximum size 600 litres) or in bottle.
    • Viejo – The wine must undergo 36 months aging, a minimum of 12 months in cask (maximum size 600 litres) and the wines must show an oxidative character.

     

    Let's explore special Spain wines from La Rioja Alta, Monseran, Protos wineries, at WeWine stores nationwide. 

    Source: Sales & Service for the Wine Professional, Brian K. Julyan, 2015.