Spanish Wine is among the best in the world and if you’ve ever wondered what’s on the wine label, here are a few tips to help you familiarize yourself with Spanish wine. First of all Spain is divided up or organized into demarcations and these wine areas are categorized by what is known as the DO Label or Denominación de Orígen. This is just like a quality control system that guarantees the origen of the grapes used in wine-making along with the methods used to produce it.
Young wines are denominated the tag Vino Joven (young wine) and these come from DO areas and may be aged a little. A “Crianza” wine has been aged a minimum of 2 years with a least 6 months spent in oak barrels. A decent bottle of Crianza wine is well balanced in fruity and woody flavours. A “Reserva” winehas been aged a minimum of 3 years and is a quality wine. A “Reserva” has spent a year in oak barrels and is made from top vintages.
Top of the list is none other than the “Gran Reserva” which has spent a minimum of 2 years in oak casks and 3 years aging in the bottle. A “Gran Reserva” is made from exceptional vintages. Notable Spanish wine regions at the moment are Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Penedés, Valdepeñas and Rueda. In Catalonia there are ten “Denominacíon de Origen” areas. These are: Emporda, Allella, Pla del Bages, Penedès, Tarragona, Conca de Barberà, Costers del Segre, Priorat, Terra Alta and Montsant. Lastly, this brings us to the “Vins de Catalunya” (wines of Catalonia) and the DO Cava.
The DO areas in Catalonia are more or less the same as the “comarques” (counties) that often share the same names. The name Catalunya (Catalonia) has been applied to a denomination of origin fostered by the Catalan wine industry in order to have a DO with less restrictions than so far existing local or county DOs. It is inspired in a brand approach similar to the one used in Bordeaux.
A generic DO was created to indicate the area embracing practically all existing DOs in Catalonia, with less restrictive regulations so they could include wine makers wishing to operate with this DO only or together with a local DO, provided they were registered and addressing the market with one single DO. Of all winemakers operating with the Catalunya DO, the most important company is by far Miguel Torres from Vilafranca del Penedès. The big sparkling wine or Cava makers, Freixenet and Cordorniu, also use the Catalunya DO for some of their wines.