Spanish Wine Aging Regulations: Joven, Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva



Spanish wine labels can be somewhat baffling to those that aren’t familiar with the age designations. Even many in the wine industry are frequently unsure of the stipulations surrounding each because they do change from time to time. Thanks EU. But below are explanations as to what each designation means.

Joven: Sin crianza or vino joven may appear on the bottle, but all of these are titles that mark a wine that has seen little if any oak aging and is meant to be consumed fairly soon. You can expect a more raw expression of fruit from that year in Joven wines. Although there is a subcategory within Joven called “Roble” or “media crianza” that indicates wine that has seen up to 2-6 months oak contact, this wine should still be consumed within 2 years of its release.

Crianza: This next category up literally translates to “aging” in Spanish and involves wine that sees up to 2 years aging within the winery of which 6 months the wine remains in oak barrels. The exact amount of time for both oak and bottle aging varies from region to region, but 2 years of aging with at least 6 months in oak is the general rule of thumb. For whites and rosés, wine is to be aged for 1 year with at least 6 months in oak. This the most commonly produced style as it is made almost every year in bodegas across Spain.

Reserva: This style is only produced during the finest vintages and entails more years of both oak and bottle aging. Once again the amount of time for each varies from region to region but the general rule is 3 years aging at the winery wherein 1 year takes place in oak barrels. For whites and rosés, 2 years with at least 6 months in oak.

Gran Reserva: This is the highest level of quality and is made infrequently and only during stellar vintages. Red wines of this category must be aged for a minimum of 5 years at the bodega with 2 of these years spent in oak barrels and 3 in the bottle. Whites and rosés will see at lest 4 years aging of which 6 months is in oak.


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