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Designations of origin
To understand what wines without Protected Designation of Origin are, it is first necessary to understand what it means to have this indication.
Spanish designations of origin - DO (Denominación de Origen) - were introduced into the country in the early decades of the twentieth century. Like the Italian system (DOC), the Spanish system also provides for regulations that regulate the areas of production, cultivation and winemaking practices, yields per hectare, minimum aging times, bottling and labeling.
More than half of Spanish wine production belongs to the DO category. Among the most important designations are Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rías Baixas, Penedès, Priorato and Jerez.
Earth wines, table wines and quality wines
The level immediately below the DO is represented by the Wines of the Earth - [Vino de la Tierra], (VdlT) - which is roughly equivalent to the Italian IGT. These wines have a geographical indication, with specific characteristics determined by environmental and cultural conditions. The label authorises the indication of the vintage, the wine varieties used and the production area. However, unlike designations of origin, the geographical delimitation can only be represented by administrative units.
The European Union also differentiates between table wines (vinos de mesa) and quality wines (vinos de calidad). Table wines should not indicate either the year of harvest or the grape variety used, except with the consent of a certification body. They are usually produced from grapes grown in different regions of the country.
There are wines, however, that even though they do not have any denomination, aspire to be of superior quality compared to normal table wines. The Vinos de Calidad con Indicación Geográfica (VC) must be produced and processed in a given region or locality and the grapes must have the same origin. The wine must also be aged in that area.
Classification of Spanish wines according to maturation period
The Spanish wine is also classified according to the period of aging before it is marketed:
- Sin Crianza:* young bottled wine, without maturation period;Joven:** about one year of aging;
- Crianza:**Red wines with at least two years of aging, at least one of which in cask; white or rosé wines with aging of at least six months in cask.
- Reserves:**quality wines produced only in particularly favourable years. For red wines, ageing of at least three years, at least one of which in cask; for white or rosé wines, ageing of at least two years, of which at least six months in cask.
- Gran Reserva:**quality wines produced only in particularly favourable years. For red wines, maturation of at least five years, at least two of which in cask; for white or rosé wines, maturation of at least four years, of which at least six months in cask.
In Spain you can find a majority of native vineyards compared to the so-called international vineyards. The country is famous above all for its red wines, although paradoxically there are more white berry vineyards. In particular, the variety, typical of the Mancha region, is the most cultivated, followed by Albariñocon.
In the famous La Rioja we find vines of Macabeo, Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca, while in the Catalan region of Penedès are widespread Xarel-lo, Parellada, Macabeo and Chardonnay. The most famous fortified wine of Spain, Jerez, - known in Italy as Sherry - is produced with white grapes of the Palomino, Moscatel and Pedro Ximénez varieties.
The most typical black berry grape of Spain is, without doubt, the [Tempranillo]https://www.uvinum.co.uk/wines/grape/tempranillo, used to produce the famous reds of Rioja. Followed by Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano. In Ribera del Duero the most common vineyards are those of Garnacha and Tempranillo, while in Priorat those of Carignan, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. In Penedès Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Monastrell are cultivated.
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