Spain for dummies


  • Denominacion de origen (DO)
  • Denominacion de origen calificada (DOCa) – top tier
  • Vinos de calidad con indicacion geografica (VCIG)
  • Vino De la Tierra (VdiT)

Wines at the DO level and above must adhere to ageing requirements


Vino Joven – Less the 2 years for white and red

Crianza – Red wines is 2 years with 6 months in cask. Whites are 18 months with 6 months in cask

Reserva – Red wines is 3 years with 1 year in cask. White wines is 2 years and 6 months in cask

Gran Reserva – red wines is 5 years with 18 months in cask. White wine is 4 years with 6 months in cask


Additional ageing terminology

Noble: 18 months of ageing

Anejo: 24 months of ageing

Viejo: 36 months of ageing


North central Spain

Contains 3 atonomies

  • Rioja
  • Navarra
  • Aragon

–       the Ebro river runs through the Rioja DOCa





Rioja DOCa

  • Rioja Alta
  • Rioja Baja
  • Rioja Alavesa
  • Tempranillo is the main red grape variety of Rioja and may be blended with carignan, graciano and garnacha
  • Macabeo is the dominant white grape followed by garnacha blanc, malvasia, chardonnay, sav blanc and verdejo.
  • Rioja cask must be 225 litres
  • Soils include clay and alluvial soils



  • Navarra is adjacent to the east of Rioja
  • Red wine accounts for 60% of the Navarras Production
  • Grenache and tempranillo are the main red grapes
  • Viura is the most prominent varietal

5 Districts are

  1. Valdizarbe
  2. Baja Montana
  3. Tierra Estella
  4. Ribera Baja
  5. Reibera Alta


Green Spain: Galicia and Basque Country

5 DO’s

  • Rias Baixas
  • Ribeiro
  • Valdeorras
  • Ribeira Sacra
  • Monterrei


Rias Baixes

  • boarders Portugal and has 5 subzones (Val do salnes, ribeira do ulla, soutomair, O Rosal, Condado do tea)
  • the main grape is albarino which is produced in a cool climate, this keeps the acid up
  • the red grapes are produced from caino, espadeiro and mencia


Ribera del Duero DO

  • the ribera del duero which is south of rioja is one of spains best producing wine regions
  • one outstanding producer is vega Sicilia
  • white is not allowed in this region instead it is red and rose produced from

–       Tempranillo, Cabernet sav, Merlot and malbec


Rueda DO

  • SW of ribeiro del duero, prodced grapes from the white verdejo grape
  • The white wines of Rueda must contain a minimum of 50% of the local verdejo grape + macabeo or palomino



  • west of Rueda and produce reds from Grenache and tempranillo and whites from verdejo


Priorat DOCa

  • Grenache and carinena are the traditional varietals
  • Rock strewn schist soils with a mix of black slate and quartz


Monstant DO

  • Grenache and carinera are the main red grapes



  • Much of the area is being converted into white grapes for cava
  • Tarragona classico, 100% fortified Grenache aged for 12 years


Penedes DO

  • Perfectly suited for growing the parellada grape (principal grape for cava)

4 Grapes are authorized for Cava

  • Parellada
  • Macabao
  • Chardonnay
  • Xarel – lo


Cava is the only DO that covers a style rather then a region

The most important city for cava is San Sadurni d’anoia


Southern Spain



The most planted grape here is the airen followed by tempranillo known locally as cencibel. This area has a higher concentration of chalk bedrock 

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