There’s sea and sun to entice
you……..and all that wonderful wine too. In fact, 15% of the world’s vineyards
are in Spain – spread across all of Spain’s autonomous regions. Though the
biggest surface area of vineyards is in Castilla-La Mancha, La Rioja boasts the
greatest density of planting.
At February 2014, Spain was the
world’s third largest exporter of wine, behind France and Italy, and the UK and
Germany were the top customers. (Spain thanks all you lady and gentlemen
inebriates in the UK). Since Spain produces a lot of sherry and brandy, some
61% of its vineyards grow white grapes. Despite this, thank goodness, the
majority of wine production concerns red wine.
The main quality wine regions of
Spain are called denominaciones de origen (similar to appellations in France).
Particular laws dictate the quality of wine they produce. European Commission
regulations require that Spanish wines are placed in a series of
Vino de Pago
These are wine regions that claim
the very highest standard within precise geographical rules, often concerning
single individual estates with an international reputation. At present there
are just 11 regions with this status – 8 in Castilla-La Mancha and 3 in
Denominación de Origen Calificada
These are regions with a
substantiated record of undeviating quality. Right now, there are only 2 wine
regions with this status – Rioja and Priorat.
Denominación de Origen
Currently there are 66 wine regions
with this status – regarded as pre-eminent, high quality wine producing areas
Vino de Calidad con Indicación
There are only 2 regions at present
– a category designed for regions starting to climb the quality ladder.
Vino de La Tierra
These are wines that have no EU
recognition, Even so, there are currently 46 Spanish regions producing them.
They are allowed to bear a regional name on the label. In 2006, a new Vino de
La Tierra “super region” was created and named Viñedos de España, with permission
to blend wines from 11 different Spanish regions. However, this has not yet
received EU ratification and is facing legal challenge by the regional
governments of La Rioja, Castile and León.
”MsoNormal">Vino de La Mesa
The grapes used are bulk-grown and drawn
from a wide variety of regions. As a consequence, there can be no vintage or
area designations on the label, apart from “Produce of Spain”. Production of
this low-grade wine is falling year by year.
”MsoNormal">Although just about all wine regions
are confined to specific centres of production, some of the top denominacionesare produced in more than one autonomous locality (Cava and Rioja are
examples). By contrast, Vinos de Pago have a location
yardstick that is very exact, often pinpointing particular plots of land and
only allowing wines produced in the immediate vicinity