In partnership with ARAEX Grands

Understand this labelling term...

In partnership with ARAEX Grands

What is a Vino de Pago?

The 21st century is showing us Spanish winemakers who want to embrace more finite classification methods and in turn make the higher-quality vineyards of the Iberian Peninsula more visible to the world’s wine drinkers.

One of the fruits of these efforts has been the “Vino de Pago” system that came into legal being in 2003.

Perhaps a foreign term for people who don’t know it yet, the easiest way to think of it is like a French-wide Grand Cru system that while based in Spain’s Denominations of Origins (DOs) functions independently of them. It’s important to note that within the region of Catalonia, a separate classification system exists only for their wines that functions in the same manner but is called “Vi de Finca”.

The term “pago” can make for a play on words as the most typical use is for a “payment” in Spanish but when related to olives or more importantly, grapes, it’s a defined area or “single vineyard”.

To become a certified pago, there are several requirements: the pago needs to be owned by the winery who produces the wines, the pago has to be within a registered DO, and the pago has to demonstrate unique characteristics that make it worthy of receiving the status.

Once certified, a new DO is created for the pago in question and it enters the official list – of which there are 17 at the moment (see below), with several more pending final approval. As with all qualifications placed under national DO regulations, the Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente (Ministry of Agriculture) has the final approval in awarding it.

Vino de Pago

Pago de Cirsus. Credit: Araex

The reason for chasing down this certification for the wineries is that it allows them state on the label what is designed to be a higher qualification of quality than DO or even the top-level DOCa which is only held by Rioja and Priorat currently.

Largely, these classifications have been dominated by the regions of Castilla-La Mancha and Navarra perhaps as a way to show a higher-level of wine production in regions that aren’t as well known in Spain.

However, the much more well-known regions such as Rioja, Bierzo, or Priorat don’t have any vineyards with the Vino de Pago certification and none are currently planning to apply. To a large degree, these three regions have chosen to define their own high-quality “pago” vineyards at a local level by creating a quality pyramid from the ground up as opposed to the top down in Spanish system seen with Vino de Pago.

All of these various qualification systems will undoubtedly persist into the future, however as winemakers in Spain have been on a steady drive to define, promote, and enjoy the top wines emerging from one of the world’s largest wine producers.

The Vino de Pagos

  • Campo de la Guardia ( 2009, Toledo)
  • Casa del Blanco ( 2010, Ciudad Real )
  • Dehesa del Carrizal ( 2006, Ciudad Real )
  • Dominio de Valdepusa ( 2002, Toledo )
  • Finca Élez ( 2002, Albacete )
  • Pago Guijoso ( 2004, Albacete )
  • Pago Florentino ( 2009, Ciudad Real )
  • Pago de Arínzano ( 2009, Navarra )
  • Pago de Otazu ( 2009, Navarra )
  • Prado de Irache ( Navarra)
  • Pago de Aylés ( año 2011, Zaragoza )
  • Pago El Terrerazo, de Bodegas Mustiguillo ( año 2011, Valencia )
  • Los Balagueses ( 2011, Valencia)
  • Pago Chozas Carrascal ( 2012 Valencia )
  • Pago Calzadilla ( 2011, Cuenca )
  • Pago Finca Bolandín, Bodega Pago de Cirsus (2014 Navarra).
  • Pago Vera de Estenas (2013, Valencia)