Europe’s Myriad wine laws and classifications have probably left most of us, at least once, scratching our heads in confusion. And it’s quite probable that one more furrow was added to the brow when, in 2003, the DO Vino de Pago was introduced as a new official category in Spanish wine, parachuted in to sit at the very peak of the appellation pyramid, above the DOCa/DOQs of Rioja and Priorat.
To be a Vino de Pago, single estates must demonstrate unique characteristics, such as climate and soil, and that all grapes are estate grown and all wine bottled on the property. However, there are legally defined exceptions, which complicate matters. Furthermore, some voices argue that the regulations attached to this classification are not strictly adhered to by all members.
The modern concept of the Pago is, on balance, an honourable one, particularly in terms of demanding (in theory) top-notch procedures in both vineyard and cellar. But confusion over the whole issue stems from the creation of the Vino de Pago classification and arbitrarily putting it at the apex of Spain’s wine rankings. This, compounded by its still limited geographical reach, suggests there is more than a whiff of politics in the air.
Mark O’Halleron picks 10 Grandes Pagos de Espana wines to try…
A gorgeous, breezy, uplifting Monastrell that spends six months in barrel. It’s wonderfully pure with an abundance of fruits such
A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Petit Verdot and 5% Merlot, this contains only the best parcels of Valdepusa’s
See Decanter experts' rating, tasting notes and drinking window for Pago de Arínzano 2004.
This is pure, unadulterated Tempranillo from vines that grow in a single vineyard near the Duero River.
A super-concentrated, polished Bordeaux blend of both Cabernets, Merlot and Petit Verdot.
See Decanter experts' rating, tasting notes and drinking window for Aalto 2010.
See Decanter experts' rating, tasting notes and drinking window for Mas Doix 2010.
Merseguera is rarely seen outside a blend due to its poor reputation for making quality single-varietal wines.
See Decanter experts' rating, tasting notes and drinking window for Gramona 2000.
See Decanter experts' rating, tasting notes and drinking window for Finca Sandoval 2009.