In order to understand the term 'without denomination', we need first to sketch out the general picture of the organisation of Spain as a wine country.
Geographically speaking, it is made up of five large regions:
1. North with Galicia, Rioja, Navarra, ...
2. CentralSpain with Castilla la Mancha, Castilla y Léon, ...
3. East with Catalonia, Levante, ...
4. South with Jerez, Malaga, Ronda, ...
5. The Canary Islands
There is a system that tries to create order in the quality levels across these wine regions:
1. Vino de Mesa (table wine): There are usually no particular rules for this type of wine and the grapes come from various regions.
2. Vino de la Tierra: wines from a defined area, made from grape varieties typical of the region.
3. Denominación de Origen (D.O.): wines with a protected denomination of origin. For example, Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Rias Baixas, Jerez. These are comparable to French A.O.C.s or Italian D.O.C.s.
4. Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.Ca): at the current time only Rioja and Priorat bear the title of D.O.Ca.
5. Vino de Pago: a few wineries have their own D.O.
The theory presumes that the quality of the wines increases in a constant line through the system. It goes without saying that this system has its merits and is important in laying down certain quality standards, however it is not without limitations. Rules can sometimes be stifling, and there are also very good table wines and simply wonderful Vinos de la Tierra. The quality of some Vinos de Pago is questionable.
It is in this context that we need to look at wines 'without denomination'. Some visionary winemakers cherish the freedom to make wine according to old traditions or new methods. With grapes that are not included in existing systems and wines for which there is no classification. We dare to claim that delicious, fascinating, surprising wines can often be found among them.