Quick Spanish wine guide
Here some bits and pieces of Spanish wine information, short and to the point. Think of this as your quick Spanish Wine Guide.
In 1987 Spain redivided the country into something similar to our United States. Spain is divided into political regions, or autonomous communities. There are seventeen of these regions. Each region is divided into Provinces. For example, the wine region of Rias Baixas is in the provence of Pontevedra, in the political region of Galicia.
When you travel to Spain and Spanish wine country, you will experience a mix of very old and traditional, along with new and modern, winemaking techniques. There are wineries over 200 years old and new, very modern and stunning wineries. In these new wineries, you will have an amazing adventure in winery architecture. To name a few very exciting Spanish wineries:
Bodegas Ysios – designed by architect Santiago Calatrava
Bodegas Marques de Riscal – designed by architect Frank Gehrey
Bodegas Biagorri – designed by architect Iñaki Azpiazu
Many of the DO’s have designated wine routes. The wine routes are very handy for the wine traveler. We always stop in the first tourist office we see and ask for a local wine route map, “Ruta de Vino.” These give up-to-date information about tours, tastings, and how to make an appointment at a winery.
The quality wine regions of Spain are designated and governed by the Denominaciones de Origen, or DO for short. There are currently 64 Denominaciones de Origen across Spain. Here is a complete guide to Denominaciones de Origen. (link)
Each Denominaciones de Origen has a governing council. Each bottle of wine must carry a stamped label on the back of the bottle insuring that the wine has met the requirements of the specific DO. Inspections by DO officials are common and very thorough. Officials will only issue as many DO stamps as there are bottles in inventory.
The term “Joven” is a wine released with just a few months of barrel aging or only in stainless steel. It could be aged in barrel or stainless steel.
The term “Crianza” on a label means the wine has been aged a minimum of two years, with 6 months or more in oak barrels, depending on the specific DO. For example, the Rioja DO requires one full year in the barrel.
The term “Reserva” on a label means the wine has been aged for three years, the length in oak barrels is one year (In Rioja).
The term “Gran Reserva” on a label means the wine has been aged for five years, two years or more in oak barrels.
The term “Vino de Mesa” is used for wines below the quality level of DO. These are considered to be table wines. The wines are from a certain location but do not have the requirements of the DO for aging or the amount of grapes. They can be blended. “Vino de la Tierra” is another term used in table wine.