'Wine is good for you': new Spanish wine law
- Monday 30 June 2003
Under the Ley del Vino - the biggest shake-up in wine laws since Franco - the National Government will provide funds for local and national information campaigns, which should promote wine as an integral part of a mediterranean diet.
The law makes it clear that wine will be promoted as distinct from any other alcoholic beverage, and that campaigns should include recommendations for responsible consumption.
Growers and producers are actively encouraged to use environmentally friendly and sustainable farming methods, and the 'historical and traditional' aspects of Spanish wine should be emphasised. Funds are also available for research and development projects at a local and national level.
The law, which came into effect on 26 June, has been eight years in the making. It sweeps away the pre-democracy laws of 1970 and claims to allow more freedom and flexibility for producers to compete, as well as more transparency for the consumer.
Some of the changes are radical. There are two new levels of Quality Wine:
at the top end, parallel with DO (Denominación de Origen) and DOCa
(Denominación de Origen Calificada) is DO Pago ('single vineyard'). Then
below DO is Vinos de Calidad con Indicación Geográfica, or VCIG, the
equivalent of the French VDQS
Vinos de Pagos are top-quality wines from single estates. There are only two at the moment, Dominio de Valdepusa and Finca Elez, which were both 'promoted' by the regional government of Castilla-La Mancha last year. Only single estates are eligible, so producers like Rioja's Muga or Rioja Alta could not be Pagos because they buy in some grapes. But Torres could well put forward its top wine Mas la Plana for Pagos status.
There are also complex new regulations and names for ages of wine. Reserva and Gran Reserva stay, with different stipulations for barrel size (ie the 1000 litres requirement comes down to 330l), and new requirements for length of stay in barrel and bottle.
New ageing names are noble, anejo, and viejo, for 12, 24 and 36 months respectively in bottle or barrel. Viejo wines must also show a marked oxidative effect.
Consejos Reguladores will still make the rules, but a new, autonomous body will be created to police their appellation.
The Federación Español del Vino has welcomed the new law. 'A new phase opens for a struggling sector which will permit it to compete with rivals operating in very deregulated environments. It is an important advance on the law of 1970.'