History of Wine — Viticultural Regions (2)
The European Union has chosen to advertise wine products by their toponymic names -such as Bordeaux, Rioja, Cariñena, Beaujolais or Tokay- with Regulatory Councils that bring together producers from the corresponding region. The term “wine” isn’t even pronounced. People order a Rioja, a Bordeaux, a Carignan, a Chablis, etc. This type of marketing differs markedly from that of beer, since it is forbidden to promote commercial brands through toponymic names, and there are no Regulatory Councils involved. The owner of the brand commissions brewers from different nations to create it for him, providing them with the correct guidelines to manufacture the preferred product. X beer is produced in a similar way in Spain and the United States, and in a similar way in Germany, just as a commercial car brand can create plants in various countries and regions.
Council Regulation 479/2008, of 29 April 2008, helped to reduce the rigidity of the “system of toponymic names” used to market wines. This replaced the previous system of “quality wines produced in a given region (vcprd)”. Now, the quality of wine is no longer linked to the fact that the grapes come from a specific region. Nowadays, there are two types of toponymic names. For a wine with a designation of origin, all the grapes used in the production process must come from the same geographical area. As for a wine with a geographical indication, at least 85% of the grapes used must come from the same region. Therefore, currently no one is obliged to use only grapes from their terroir to obtain quality wine. Europe was in a deficit state in 2002 due to insufficient rainfall, which made it difficult to harvest grapes, except in the southern region of Spain. Fortunately, La Mancha intervened to compensate for the shortfall, supplying the essential raw material to European wineries that did not have sufficient harvests.
The excellence of wine depends on the quality of the grapes. The Rioja appellation of origin was officially classified as “qualified” by a decree of April 3, 1991. The conditions for a denomination of origin to carry the qualification of “qualified” were established in Decree 157/1988, of February 22. Among the requirements is that the price of grapes of this denomination must be more than twice the value of the domestic market. The name “El Priorato” also has the category of “qualified”. The quality of the grapes is not necessarily linked to the fact that they come from a certain area. The fact that a region or region produces wine with exclusively local grapes does not guarantee quality, especially during a below average harvest.
In particular, European legislation considers that non-geographical names are similar to geographical indications or classifications. A good example of this is the term “cava”, which does not describe a geographical definition, but is linked to a certain region of the Penedés, as well as to parts of Valencia, Extremadura and La Rioja. This denomination of origin is not only related to a group of farmers who receive financial aid to grow grapes or stop cultivating their vineyards, but also to some powerful commercial companies. Freixenet and Codorníu have established themselves in California and have achieved massive success. Another example is Vinho Verde, which is not a geographical area, but a type of wine. It has been assigned to a specific region located between the Miño and Duero rivers.
Outside Europe, great winegrowers have flourished in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. These nations have been based on intense research, which has modernized their viticultural practices, from the harvest to the structure of the vineyards. These wines are not represented by their geographical region, but by their varieties. They don’t name themselves with grandiloquent titles. These wines have begun to become popular in England, which is not self-sufficient in white wine, despite its good quality.
In Latin America, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay are the most important countries that export high-quality and very affordable wine.