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Bux

D.O.

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I know little about Spanish wines, but I'm starting to learn. They seem to be marked up highly here in the U.S. and Spain is the place to go to enjoy them. Most of the wines I've had seem to enjoy a Dénominacion de Origen equivalent to the AOC or DOC in France or Italy, except that there seems to be little that's required of a wine except that it be grown in the disignated area. What I mean is that, at least in some regions, it appears one may grow whatever grape one pleases and thus the D.O. offers little insight into how the wine will taste. Am I wrong?

P.S.

Since I posted that question, Craig Camp has started a thread entitled New Spanish D.O. with a post that includes a link to an article on the Wine Spectator site -- New Appellation Approved for Spain's Hot Heartland


Edited by Bux (log)

Robert Buxbaum

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I agree that the U.S. markup on many Spanish wines is quite high. We purchased a bottle of Guelbenzu Lautus (Latin for ‘magnificent’) in Pamplona for the equivalent of $23.00 (USD). When we could find it back in the U.S., the exact same wine cost $64.00. Although, if we are discussing the Priorat wines which tend to be priced especially high, this is an area where part of the higher cost can be attributed to the harsh growing conditions of the area. The vines must struggle to generate even the low grape yield produced. While less fruit per vine lends great concentration of flavor and power to each grape and the resulting wine, it also makes these delicious wines a scarce commodity.

The D.O. (denominación de origen) is equivalent to the French A.O.C. (appellation d’origine controlée). In Spain, the D.O. refers to a specific geographical area controlled by a Consejo Regulador, which specifies the area in which the grapes of that denomination must be grown, the grape varieties permitted, grape vine density, pruning methods to be used, how the wines are to be matured, and limitations on the alcohol and sugar content of a wine. A stricter denomination category, the D.O.C. (denominación de origen calificada), was created in 1991. A wine must meet even more definitive standards in order to earn this label. To my knowledge, only wines in the Rioja region have been able to meet these higher standards. When I visited the Rioja Alta winery, our tour guide said that their ability to label a wine 'reserva' did not ensure that that wine would be better than a well crafted crianza with less aging. It merely meant that they jumped through the required hoops to obtain the label for that wine. You may find some excellent wines that have not received a D.O or D.O.C. designation merely because the winemaker chose a variety of grape that is not traditionally grown in the region, or he or she used grapes obtained from an area beyond the exact area designated by the government.

In bars in Rioja we have had some vinos jovenes (young wines) that are apparently not even bottled, never exported, and are quite good. They are truly traditional wines in that they are drunk almost immediately and never leave the area.

- Marina


Marina C.

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When I visited the Rioja Alta winery, our tour guide said that their ability to label a wine 'reserva' did not ensure that that wine would be better than a well crafted crianza with less aging.  It merely meant that they jumped through the required hoops to obtain the label for that wine. 

La Rioja Alta set their hoops at a far greater height than many of their neighbors. They could legally call their excellent crianza wine, Vina Alberdi, a reserva, but choose not to do so because they seek an even higher quality standard for reserva. The same goes for their reserva wines which legally could be called gran reserva. Therefore their wonderful 'Reserva 904" others would call a gran reserva, but they choose not to because they are seeking an even higher standard for their gran reserva - the sublime 890.

Few wineries of this size show such a dedication (and the patience required) to maintaining high quality standards.

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