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Differences between DO, DOP and DOCa for wine

When buying a wine, you normally look at many things: type of ageing, winery name, price, origin... And for this last point, do you look for more than it simply being a “Rioja or a Ribera”? Are you aware of what is behind the DO of a wine? On this point, there are many, very important things to learn to fully understand the wine you are buying.

That’s why, in this article, we’re going to explain what DO means in a wine, DOP and what DOCa means (and implies) in a wine. When you finish reading, you’ll surely have learned something new. Here we go!

Qué significa DO y DOP en vino

What do DO and DOP mean in a wine?

When we talk about wines with a DO, we’re referring to wines with a Denominación de Origen seal. They are wines from a specific production region that are made according to a series of parameters that guarantee their quality and ensure they reflect the typical characteristics of that region. Those parameters are dictated by the Regulating Council in each region.

What does a wine have to do to get the DO seal?

- It has to be made in the specific region, county, town or place with grapes grown there.

- It has to enjoy great prestige in commercial traffic based on its origin.

- Its quality and characteristics should be mainly or exclusively due to the geographic setting, which includes both natural and human factors.

- It must have been recognised for at least five years as a VC (quality wine with geographical indication).

DOP is a European-level quality seal, known as PDO in English, that standardises the DO in each country, according to their rules.

For Spain, there are currently 96 Protected Designations of Origin, broken down as follows:

  • 67 DO (Denominación de Origen or Denomination of Origin).
  • 19 Vinos de pago (Estate Wines).
  • 2 DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada or Qualified Denomination of Origin).
  • 8 VC (Vino de Calidad or Quality Wine).

Read to the end of the article to find out about these types of wine! Plus, you can check out this list from the magazine Vinetur for more details.

What does DOCa mean in a wine?

We’re going to look more closely at what DOCa means. This stands for Denominación de Origen Calificada (Qualified Denomination of Origin), reserved for wines that have maintained and met a series of quality requirements for a specific period of time (quite long) after acquiring the DO seal, as well as other parameters we’ll look at now, established by the Regulating Council. In our case, this is the DOCa Rioja Regulatory Board. And Rioja was the first DO to get this recognition, 30 years ago, in April 1991.

In 2000, it was also granted to Priorat, an area wedged between Campo de Tarragona and Tierras del Ebro. These are the only DOCa in Spain.

The official requirements for this seal are:

- To have been recognised for at least ten years as a DO.

- To commercialise all wine bottled at wineries registered and located in the established geographic area.

- To have a control system from production to marketing that covers quality and quantity, including physical/chemical and sensory controls by uniform lots of limited volume.

- This prohibits one winery from having some wines that are DOCa and some that aren’t, except certified estate wines (VP) located within the territory.

- To have a map, by towns, of the land suitable for producing wines with the right to be called DOCa.

All of our wines have the DOCa Rioja seal.
Qué es un vino de pago o vino de la tierra

What is a VP (Estate Wine) or VT (Vino de la Tierra)?

As we saw before, there are other categories that fall under the Protected Designations of Origin, including:

  • VC (quality wine with geographical indication): the grapes used for these wines must be grown in the area and the wine must be produced there.
  • VP (Estate Wines): these wines enjoy a certain prestige from a single pago, or estate with a climate or microclimate that differs from the others around it.

Outside of the PDO, we also have IGP (protected geographic indications), which like VT are from a region with unique characteristics but apply less strict requirements, as only 85% of grapes have to be from that region.

We hope you’ve learned something new and that, from now on, you’ll pay much more attention to these seals when you buy wine. Want to learn more interesting facts about the world of wine? Don’t miss this article!

10 interesting wine facts you might not know