All About D.O.s

All About D.O.s

For many people, one of the most confusing aspects of Spanish wine is the system used to categorise it - the Denominación de Origen system.

You may be slightly reluctant to dig into the dry and somewhat bureaucratic process used to classify the various wines in Spain. And we'd be the first to admit that it's not the most riveting subject around. But getting a basic grip of what the different classifications mean can be useful when it comes to making a more educated guess about what's inside the bottle and whether that wine is the right one for you.

So, let's see if we can outline the basics in an easy-to-understand way.

Why we have Denominaciones de Origen

The first thing to understand is that Denominaciones de Origen (or DOs as they are often referred to) aren't just for wines. They exist to protect the names of a broad range of food and drink products and promote their unique characteristics – i.e., where they come from and how they are made. Think of Camembert cheese or Parma ham for example.

On the one hand it acts as a kind of copyright system so that only authorised people or companies can sell products under a protected name. But it also acts as a signal to the consumer that products with a specific DO label have followed a certain set of rules, laid down by governing bodies, when making their products. And whilst it's not an absolute guarantee of quality, it does at least require certain practices and guidelines to be followed.

How does the system work for Spanish wine?

In Spain, wines fall under two umbrella categories:

  • Denominación de Origen Protegida, or DOP
  • Indicación Geográfica Protegida, or IGP

For a winery to be part of a DOP, every stage of their winemaking has to happen within the designated geographical area, which means that all the grapes have to be grown within the region where the wine is made. And each DOP has a list of grapes which wineries are allowed to use.

For IGP wineries, only one of the production stages has to take place in the area, and only 85% of the grapes have to come from the area where the wine is made.

All clear so far? Good.

DOP Subcategories

The DOP category then gets subdivided into four further categories and these are what you’ll see on the labels of wine bottles. You can think of the subcategories as layers on a pyramid (see the graphic below).

Vinos de Pago (VP)

At the 'top' of the pyramid we have Vinos de Pago or VPs. This is a group of wineries that have been granted their own status covering just very specific vineyards.

Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa/DOQ)

Then it’s Denominación de Origen Calificada, – DOCa – or DOQ in Catalan. This is a sort of DO+ category with stricter rules than standard DOs on how grapes are grown and how wine is made. For the moment only Rioja and Priorat are classified at this level.

Denominación de Origen (DO)

Then you have Denominación de Origen or DO wines. This is where the bulk of DOP wines are classified in Spain. The rules are still fairly strict though. For example, wineries have to have been making wine within the area for at least five years before they can join the DO.

Vinos de Calidad (VC)

Then at the entry level for DOP wines you have the Vinos de Calidad, or VC wines. These wines meet the minimum DOP requirements and are usually where vineyards will sit for an initial 5 years before graduating to DO classification.

Some wineries feel that being a VC can put them at a disadvantage commercially. So, you will sometimes see vineyards, or even entire wine growing regions, using the umbrella DOP category to classify themselves. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, it's important to remember that if you see a wine calling itself "DOP Sierra de Salamanca" (for example) that is not the same as DO and usually means the wine or region sits at the VC level.

IGP Subcategory - Vinos de la Tierra

In Spain, the Indicación Geografica Protegida category isn't broken down into subcategories. All the wines that fall under this category are labelled Vinos de la Tierra, or VT for short. VTs tend to cover much bigger geographical areas than DOPs. So you'll get wines labelled VT Castilla y León, or VT Castilla, for example, which cover very large parts of the country.

So, the whole thing looks something like this:

Does a classification equate to quality?

The DO system in itself is not a cast-iron quality guarantee. It’s true, the rules get stricter the higher up the pyramid you go. But rules don't make the wine. Few in Spain would say that Vinos de Pago are, by definition, Spain’s "best" wines. And you can find some excellent wines within the VC and VT categories. But it’s another piece in the puzzle that help you to understand what’s in the bottle and decide which wine to buy.

List of Spain's DOPs

To help you get a fix on the differences between DOCs, DOs and VCs and give you a sense of whereabouts in Spain all those DOPs are located, we've put together this (pretty) comprehensive list. We're doing our best to keep it bang up to date, but changes do happen. So if you spot any information on here that is a touch out of date, please let us know.

Vinos de Pago (VP)

Name

Where in Spain

Aylés

Aragon

Campo de la Guardia

Castilla-La Mancha

Casa del Blanco

Castilla-La Mancha

Dehesa del Carrizal

Castilla-La Mancha

Dominio de Valdepusa

Castilla-La Mancha

El Terrerazo

Community of Valencia

Finca Élez

Castilla-La Mancha

Guijoso

Castilla-La Mancha

Los Balagueses

Community of Valencia

Pago Calzadilla

Castilla-La Mancha

Pago de Arínzano

Navarra

Pago de Otazu

Navarra

Pago Florentino

Castilla-La Mancha

Prado de Irache

Navarra

 

Denominación de Origen de Calidad (DOCa/DOQ)

Name

Where in Spain

Priorat

Catalonia

Rioja

La Rioja, Navarra & Basque Country

 

Denominación de Origen (DO)

Name

Where in Spain

Abona

Canary Islands

Alella

Catalonia

Alicante

Community of Valencia

Almansa

Castilla-La Mancha

Arlanza

Castilla & Leon

Arribes

Castilla & Leon

Bierzo

Castilla & Leon

Binissalem

Balearic Islands

Bullas

Murcia

Calatayud

Aragon

Campo de Borja

Aragon

Cariñena

Aragon

Cataluña

Catalonia

Cava

Aragon, Catalonia, Community of Valencia, Extremadura, La Rioja, Navarra, Basque Country

Cebreros

Castilla & Leon

Cigales

Castilla & Leon

Condado de Huelva​

Andalusia

Costers del Segre

Catalonia

Cuenca de Barberá

Catalonia

El Hierro

Canary Islands

Empordá

Catalonia

Gran Canaria

Canary Islands

Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

Andalusia

Jumilla

Castilla-La Mancha, Murcia

La Gomera

Canary Islands

La Mancha

Castilla-La Mancha

La Palma

Canary Islands

Lanzarote

Canary Islands

Málaga

Andalusia

Manchuela

Castilla-La Mancha

Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Andalusia

Méntrida

Castilla-La Mancha

Mondéjar

Castilla-La Mancha

Monterrei

Galicia

Montilla-Moriles

Andalusia

Montsant

Catalonia

Navarra

Navarra

Penedés

Catalonia

Pla de Bages

Catalonia

Pla i Llevant

Balearic Islands

Rias Baixas

Galicia

Ribeira Sacra

Galicia

Ribeiro

Galicia

Ribera del Duero

Castilla & Leon

Ribera del Guadiana

Extremadura

Ribera del Júcar

Castilla-La Mancha

Rueda

Castilla & Leon

Sierras de Málaga

Andalusia

Somontano

Aragon

Tacoronte-Acentejo

Canary Islands

Tarragona

Catalonia

Terra Alta

Catalonia

Tierra del Vino de Zamora

Castilla & Leon

Toro

Castilla & Leon

Txakoli de Álava

Basque Country

Txakoli de Bizkaia

Basque Country

Txakoli de Getaria

Basque Country

Uclés

Castilla-La Mancha

Utiel-Requena

Community of Valencia

Valdeorras

Galicia

Valdepeñas

Castilla-La Mancha

Valencia

Community of Valencia

Valle de Güímar

Canary Islands

Valle de La Orotava

Canary Islands

Vinos de León

Castilla & Leon

Vinos de Madrid

Community of Madrid

Ycoden-Daute-Isora

Canary Islands

Yecla

Murcia

 

Vinos de Calidad (VC)

Name

Where in Spain

Cangas

Principado de Asturias

Granada

Andalusia

Islas Canarias

Canary Islands

Lebrija

Andalusia

Sierra de Salamanca

Castilla & Leon

Valles de Benavente

Castilla & Leon

Valtiendas

Castilla & Leon

 

List of Spain's IGPs

And here's our list of all the IGPs that Spain currently has to offer.

Vinos de la Tierra (VT)

Name

Where in Spain

3 Riberas

Navarra

Altiplano de Sierra Nevada

Andalusia

Bailén

Andalusia

Bajo Aragón

Aragon

Barbanza e Iria

Galicia

Betanzos

Galicia

Cádiz

Andalusia

Campo de Cartagena

Murcia

Castelló

Community of Valencia

Castilla

Castilla-La Mancha

Castilla & Leon

Castilla & Leon

Córdoba

Andalusia

Costa de Cantabria

Cantabria

Cumbres del Guadalfeo

Andalusia

Desierto de Almería

Andalusia

Extremadura

Extremadura

Formentera

Balearic Islands

Ibiza

Balearic Islands

Isla de Menorca

Balearic Islands

Islas Baleares

Balearic Islands

Laderas del Genil

Andalusia

Laujar-Alpujarra

Andalusia

Liébana

Cantabria

Los Palacios

Andalusia

Mallorca

Balearic Islands

Murcia

Murcia

Norte de Almería

Andalusia

Ribera del Andarax

Andalusia

Ribera del Gállego-Cinco Villas

Aragon

Ribera del Jiloca

Aragon

Ribera del Queiles nota 3​

Aragon

Ribera del Queiles nota 3​

Navarra

Serra de Tramuntana-Costa Nord

Balearic Islands

Sierra Norte de Sevilla

Andalusia

Sierra Sur de Jaén

Andalusia

Sierras de Las Estancias y Los Filabres

Andalusia

Torreperogil

Andalusia

Valdejalón

Aragon

Valle del Cinca

Aragon

Valle del Miño-Ourense

Galicia

Valles de Sadacia

La Rioja

Villaviciosa de Córdoba

Andalusia

 

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