In Yesterdays post I mention very breifly the subject of the word Reserve or Reserva on wine labels. Now the assumption we all make when we see this word and the accompaning price increase is that the quality of the wine must have increased and in many cases it will have however there are no rules governing the labeling of Reserve and Reserva wines, with one notable exception Spain. The Spanish are particularly ruthless in their labeling of wines as reserva and gran reserva, with a long established system. I know not what you thinking when you see Manuel in Fawlty Towers, yet its true. The Spanish system varies slightly from region to region but the basics remain the same.

  • Joven sees absolutely no oak at all. Joven means young and the style of the wine is fresh and fruity.
  • Crianza must be aged for a minimum of one year in oak barrel and at least one year in bottle before release
  • Reserva must be aged a minimum of three years in barrel and bottle with at least one which must be in oak;
  • Gran Reserva has to be aged for a minimum of five years, a minimum of two years in oak followed by the remaining years in bottle before release.

The Spanish are so serious about this system that even if the producer doesn’t display the level of aging of the bottle ( a very rare and unlikely occurrence), that the authories will, next time you have a Rioja or Ribera del Duero wine look at the back of the bottle for the Government Seal, a hologram which tells you the region from which the wine came and the aging, they are even colour coded. And we think the Germans are crazy about rules, well maybe their labels are so complicated you need a code book to crack them.

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