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Spanish Wine Classifications

Explore the tiers of Spanish wine classifications, from prestigious DOCa to emerging IGP regions, and discover the unique qualities of each.

Wine corks

The wine classification system in Spain is a complex web that guarantees quality and authenticity, reflecting the cultural and viticultural richness of the country. These Spanish wine classifications are essential for consumers and wine enthusiasts alike, as they provide valuable guidance on the provenance and character of each bottle

They are narratives of regions, a reflection of ancestral methods and a commitment to excellence.

In this article, we will delve into the two main categories: the Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) and the Indicación Geográfica Protegida, or IGP.

DOP: Guarantee of Quality and Authenticity

The  Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) represents a quality standard that guarantees that each wine is produced in a specific region, with indigenous grapes and under traditional methods. This category is crucial to preserve inherited techniques and ensure the authenticity that wine lovers value.

Vinos de Pago (VP)

Vinos de Pago are the quintessence of the concept of 'terroir'. Each 'Pago' is a vineyard with unique characteristics, whose wines unmistakably reflect its singular origin.

Here are some of the main Vinos de Pago in Spain along with their locations:

Name

Location

Pago de Chozas Carrascal

Valencia

Pago de Arínzano

Navarra

Pago de Otazu

Navarra

Pago de Vallegarcía

Castilla-La Mancha

Pago de Aylés

Aragon

Pago de Calzadilla

Castilla-La Mancha

Pago de Vicario

Castilla-La Mancha

Pago de Vallegarcía

Montes de Toledo, Castilla-La Mancha

Pago El Terrerazo

Utiel-Requena, near Valencia

Pago Finca Élez

Albacete, Castilla-La Mancha

Pago Guijoso

La Mancha

Pago Florentino

La Solana, Ciudad Real, Castilla-La Mancha

 

Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa/DOQ)

The DOCa, or Denominación de Origen Calificada, represents the top of the quality pyramid. These wines, from regions such as Rioja and Priorat, are emblematic for their consistency and excellence. These regions have stricter quality controls and have consistently produced wines of high reputation, contributing to their elevated status.

Priorat region

There are only a few regions with this prestigious status:

Name

Location

Rioja

La Rioja, Basque Country, Navarra

Priorat (or Priorato)

Catalonia

 

Denomination of Origin (DO)

Within the DO, we find an impressive diversity. From the robustness of a Ribera del Duero to the freshness of an Albariño from Rías Baixas, each DO has its own distinctive character, the result of its climate, soil and characteristic grapes.

Here are some of the main DO regions and their locations in Spain:

Name

Location

Rías Baixas DO

Galicia

Ribera del Duero DO

Northern plateau

Jerez-Xérès-Sherry DO

Andalusia

Rioja DO

Rioja region

Valdepeñas DO

Central Spain

Cava DO

Primarily Catalonia

Rueda DO

Castilla y León

Priorat DOQ

Catalonia

Navarra DO

North, near Rioja

Somontano DO

Foothills of the Pyrenees

Toro DO

Castilla y León

Bierzo DO

Northwest

Montilla-Moriles DO

Near Córdoba, Andalusia

Penedès DO

Catalonia

 

Vinos de Calidad (VC)

Vinos de Calidad (VC) are the first stepping stone for emerging regions on their way to DO status. This category is witness to the dynamism and constant evolution of Spanish viticulture.

Here are some of the main Vinos de Calidad (VC) and their locations in Spain:

Name

Location

VC Tierras de León

León, Castilla y León

VC Tierra de Zamora

Zamora, Castilla y León

VC Valtiendas

Segovia, Castilla y León

VC Sierra de Salamanca

Salamanca, Castilla y León

VC Valle de la Orotava

Tenerife, Canary Islands

VC Cangas

Asturias

VC Granada

Granada, Andalusia

VC Lebrija

Andalusia

 

IGP: Vinos de la Tierra - Flexibility and Innovation

The Indicación Geográfica Protegida (IGP), known as 'Vinos de la Tierra', offers a more flexible framework. It is a classification in Spanish wine law that is one step below Denominación de Origen (DO). 

It's similar to the 'Vin de Pays' system in France and is used for wines that come from specific regions and adhere to particular quality standards, but with more flexible rules than DO.

Rioja region

Also here, innovation and experimentation have a prominent place, allowing winegrowers to explore new possibilities.

Here are some of the main 'IGP: Vinos de la Tierra' and their locations in Spain:

Name

Location

Vino de la Tierra de Castilla

Castilla-La Mancha

Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz

Andalusia, Cádiz

Vino de la Tierra de Extremadura

Extremadura

Vino de la Tierra del Bajo Aragón

Aragon

Vino de la Tierra de Castelló

Valencia region

Vino de la Tierra de Murcia

Murcia

Vino de la Tierra de Valles de Sadacia

La Rioja

Vino de la Tierra de Mallorca

Balearic Islands, Mallorca

Vino de la Tierra de las Islas Canarias

Canary Islands

Vino de la Tierra del Norte de Almería

Andalusia, Almería

DOP and IGP: Two Sides of the Same Coin

While the DOP emphasises tradition and uniformity, the IGP celebrates diversity and innovation. Together, these classifications form a spectrum that ranges from the most classic and representative wines to bold, contemporary creations.

The Importance of Classifications for the Consumer

Understanding these classifications is not just an academic exercise. For the consumer, they are a guide to help navigate the vast universe of Spanish wines, ensuring an informed and satisfying buying experience.

The Impact on Viticulture and the Local Economy

These classifications not only benefit consumers; they are vital for winegrowers and wine regions. They ensure the protection of their heritage, promote sustainable practices and contribute significantly to the local economy and tourism.

Conclusions: Beyond Labels

Spanish wine classifications are a reflection of its rich winemaking history. With each glass, we not only taste a wine, but we participate in a tradition that has been carefully cultivated over the centuries. 

Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) and the Indicación Geográfica Protegida, or IGP are not just marks of quality; they are invitations to explore and appreciate the diversity and richness of Spanish wine

Every bottle is a story, every sip an experience; and on this journey, every discovery is another step in our understanding of the art and culture of wine.


FAQs

How many Denominations of Origin (DO) are there in Spain?
At present, there are more than 70 Denominations of Origin (DO) in Spain, each one with its own characteristics and regulations.

Can a wine have more than one classification?
Yes, some wines can belong to multiple classifications as long as they meet the requirements established for each one.

What is the difference between Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva?
These designations refer to the time the wine has spent in barrel and bottle ageing, indicating different levels of quality and maturity.

Are there specific laws for labelling organic wines?
Yes, organic wines must comply with specific regulations related to organic cultivation and production without chemical additives.

What role does the Consejo Regulador play in Spanish wine classifications?
The Consejo Regulador oversees compliance with the regulations for each classification and guarantees the authenticity and quality of the wine according to its origin.

 

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