Understanding Spanish Wine Classifications

Coming from the top wine exporter in the world, Spanish wine is known for its premium quality and exquisite taste. No wonder it is the most popular wine according to the latest international export figures.

But despite its popularity, not all Spanish wine lovers know the proper classifications. The Spanish wine qualifications are strictly followed by vineyards or regions. Having such knowledge will give you an edge as a consumer because not every Spanish wine exporter follow these regulations and you might end up paying more for a cheap wine.

Here’s a simple guide that will help you classify the Spanish wine you love.

DOC or Denominación de Origen Calificada

The wines under DOC are considered the most premium quality of the region since it is the strictest Spanish wine classification. Only the designated regions of Rioja in 1991, followed by Priorat in 2003 and Ribera del Duero in 2008 have the DOC title to date.

Vino de Pago (VP)

This classification is intended for individual single-estate with an international reputation and as of now, there are only 14 estates in Spain that have this status.

Denominación de Origen

DO System was organized in 1932 and is a classification similar to Italy’s Denominazione d’Origine Protetta (DOP), France’s Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) and Portugal’s Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC ).

The wines under DO represent high-quality wines from over 80 Spanish wine regions and considered as the mainstay of Spain’s quality control system.

Each region has its own designated Consejo regulardor who decides the boundaries, permits, maximum yields, limitations of alcohol content, and other quality standards production zone limitation.

Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada (VCPRD)

Proposed in 2005, this classification is considered as the stepping stone towards achieving DO status.

VdlT Sp. Vinos de la Tierra

Also known as country wines or wine of the land, this level is similar to France’s Vin de pays system.

Vino de Mesa (VdM)

All unclassified vineyards and grapes are under this designation, and usually refer to most country’s table wines.

Spanish Wine Aging Classification

Aside from classifying regions and vineyards, Spanish wines are also classified based on aging time. Mostly applied to red wines, each region may have their own classification, but is generally the following:

Joven or Cosecha

This means young, and no minimum aging is required. Mostly, the wines are directly bottled to age, no longer requires for barrel aging.

A Joven wine are known for its fresh fruity flavour and is best for immediate consumption.

Crianza

Crianza means aged and is required a minimum of 12 months in a barrel and another 12 months in bottle. However, aging requirements still depends on the regions. These wines are quite complex, and you can smell the oak and has soft tannins.

Reserva

The wines under reserve are those who are aged longer than 12 months, thus coined the term “reserve”. Although not followed by most regions, Reserva wines are followed by top vineyards and regions like Rioja.

However, such a term is sometimes used for a marketing strategy that is why you should buy only to Spanish wine exporters a reputable wine producers.