Spanish wine regions and classifications

by Neil Morris

Spanish wines are divided into two main categories in order to differentiate between the quality, origin and method of production. These categories are then further divided into subcategories depending on the adherence to certain production criteria.

Below is a breakdown of the different denominations by category and by region.

Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada (VCPRD)

  • Denominación de Origen de Pago (DO de Pago): These are high quality estate-grown Spanish wines that adhere to strict geographical guidelines. Despite being officially recognised as producing some of the the best wines in Spain, it has been argued that this denomination is too focused on popularity and commercialism and that they do not accurately reflect the best wine available in Spain. There is no doubt, however, that wines bearing this Denominación will be of a very high quality and will not disappoint.

  • Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa), (Denominació d'Origen Qualificada (DOQ) in Catalan): Spanish wine regions with an international reputation for producing consistent, high quality wines over a long period of time; these are generally regarded as being amongst the best Spanish wines. Currently only the Rioja and Priorat regions enjoy this prestigious status.

  • Denominación de Origen (DO), (Denominació d'Origen in Catalan, Denominación de Orixe in Galician and Jatorrizko Deitura in Basque): Spanish wine regions that are notable for producing high-volume wines of a certain quality. These wines are often mass-produced and exported worldwide but are well above table-wine quality; they represent a benchmark of quality that adhere to their geographical guidelines.

  • Vino de Calidad con Indicación Geográfica (VDC): A classification designed to indicate an up and coming Spanish wine region that is close to achieving DO status.

  • Grandes Pagos de Espana: This is an independent classification - formed by an elite group of wine makers from the regions of Castile - aimed at promoting single-estate vineyards that produce exceptional quality wines with unique personalities. The emphasis is on wines that accurately reflect the soil and climate in which they are grown; each producing a unique character that can only be obtained in their own particular terrain. The groups own website gives the following summary of the criteria required for membership:

" The GPE Association contains various requisites in its statutes which include that the wine must come from an exceptional single vineyard, that its winery should have attained a demonstrable fame with at least five years of recognised prestige in the marketplace and high marks in national and international competitions. The winery must pass a meticulous inspection by a technical auditing committee and its wines must surpass the quality requirements set at a vertical tasting to be conducted by the general assembly of our association."

Website: www.grandespagos.com

Vino de Mesa (Table wine)

  • Vino de la Tierra (VdlT) (Vi de la terra in Catalan): These wines are below DO status but still above standard table wine. The labels will state the year, vintage and grape variety. Some of these wines can be of very high quality and certain wine makers enjoy the freedom of not having to adhere to the strict DO guidelines. It also keeps the costs of production down for some smaller vineyards.

  • Vino de Mesa (Table Wine): A lower grade wine often blended from many sources resulting in no particular Spanish wine region classification or vintage. Widely produced for the tourist market, these wines will simply state "Produce of Spain" on the label and will be served in cheaper restaurants and cafes as a standard bottle often included in a fixed price menu. Local people will mix these wines with with a soda drink called "La casera" to make "Tinto de verano," they also form the basis of Sangria which is a popular tourist drink.

"Whatever the denominacion, there are great wines to be enjoyed in all the Spanish wine regions. Many vineyards now use multiple grape varieties to produce fantastic wines that do not conform to the strict guidelines of the denominaciones and some producers use grape varieties that are completely unknown in their blends.

Spain is well known for its maverick wine makers and some of the greatest Spanish wines are not always the most obvious ones! Explore, taste and discover; its the only way to truly understand what amazing surprises the Spanish wine regions can offer."

Map of the Spanish wine D.O's (PDF) | Map of Spanish country wines (Vino de la Tierra) IGP's (PDF)

A comprehensive list of all the currently recognised Spanish wine regions and denominations:

Andalusia

  • DO: Condado de Huelva, Jerez-Xeres-Sherry y Manzilla de Sanlucar, Málaga, Sierra de Malaga, Pasas de Malaga, Montilla-Moriles

  • VdlT: Bailén, Cádiz, Contraviesa-Alpujarra, Córdoba, Desierto de Almería, Granada Sur-Oeste, Laujar-Alpujarra, Los Palacios, Norte de Almería, Norte de Granada, Ribera del Andarax, Sierra Norte de Sevilla, Sierra Sur de Jaén, Sierras de Las Estancias y Los Filabres, Torreperogil, Villaviciosa de Córdoba

Aragon

  • DO: Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano, Cava

  • VdlT: Bajo Aragón, Ribera del Gállego-Cinco Villas, Ribera del Jiloca, Ribera del Queiles, Valdejalón, Valle del Cinca

Asturias

  • VdlT: Cangas

Cantabria

  • VdlT: Costa de Cantabria, Liébana

Castilla y Leon

  • DO: Arlanza, Arribes, Bierzo, Cigales, Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Tierra de León, Tierra del Vino de Zamora, Toro, Cava

  • VdlT: Castilla y León

  • VDC: Valles de Benavente, Valtiendas

Castile-la Mancha

  • DO: Almansa, Jumilla, La Mancha, Manchuela, Méntrida, Mondéjar, Ribera del Júcar, Uclés, Valdepeñas

  • DO de Pago: Campo de La Guardia, Dehesa del Carrizal, Dominio de Valdepusa, Finca Élez, Guijoso, Pago Casa Del Blanco, Pago Florentino

  • VDLT: Castilla, Gálvez, Pozohondo, Sierra de Alcaraz

Catalonia

  • DO: Alella, Catalunya, Conca de Barberà, Costers del Segre, Empordà, Montsant, Penedès, Pla de Bages, Priorat (DOCa) Tarragona, Terra Alta, Cava

  • DOCa: Priorat

Community of Madrid

  • DO: Vinos de Madrid

Valencian Community

  • DO: Alicante, Utiel-Requena, Valencia, Cava

  • DO de Pago: Finca Terrerazo

  • VdlT: Castelló, El Terrerazo

Extremadura

  • DO: Ribera del Guadiana, Cava

  • VDLT: Extremadura

Galicia

  • DO: Monterrei, Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro, Valdeorras

  • VDLT: Barbanza e Iria, Betanzos, Valle del Miño-Orense

Balearic Islands

  • DO: Binissalem-Mallorca, Plà i Llevant

  • VDLT: Formentera, Ibiza, Illes Balears, Mallorca, Isla de Menorca, Serra de Tramuntana-Costa Nord

Canary Islands

  • DO: Abona, Tacoronte-Acentejo, Valle de Güímar, Valle de La Orotava, Ycoden-Daute-Isora, El Hierro, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, Gran Canaria

Comunidad Foral de Navarra

  • DO: Navarra, Rioja, Cava

  • DO de Pago: Señorío de Arínzano, Prado de Irache, Otazu,

  • VDLT: Ribera del Queiles

Basque Country

  • DO: Txacolí de Bizcaia, Txacolí de Getaria, Txacolí de Álava, Rioja (Alavesa), Cava

Murcia

  • DO: Alicante, Bullas, Jumilla, Yecla

  • VDLT: Abanilla, Campo de Cartagena

La Rioja

  • DO: Cava

  • DOCa: Rioja

  • VDLT: Valles de Sadacia
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