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As a country with a very varied relief, the different Spanish designations of origin produce many wines. Although most of the Spanish wines are good in one way or another, there are some designations of origin that have more importance than others. It may be because of their age and tradition, or because of a specific vintage, or a particular winery that produces especially good wines. Most people refer to these designations of origin when they're unsure of what to buy because they're a sure success. These Spanish designations of origin are:
The Denominación de Origen (DO) system was created in 1932 by Spanish laws. The system is quite similar to the Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system of France, Portugal's Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) and Italy's Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) system. There are over 70 DOs in Spain, spanned across the whole country; and two Denominaciones de Origen Calificadas (DOCa): DOCa Rioja and DOCa Priorat. The DOCa stamp means the quality of these wines is better than the regular DOs.
Each DO has a Regulatory Council, which acts as a governing control body to enforce the regulations established by the DO, regarding viticultural and wine making practices. The Regulatory Council governs everything regarding from the type of grapes planted and used for each wine to the time they have to spend ageing to be ready for the consumer, including the maximum crops that can be harvested and the information which should appear in the label. When a winery wants to sell their wine under a DO, they have to send an example of their wines to the Regulatory Council so they can test it and decide if they're good enough for the DO and if they fulfill all the necessary aspects a wine has to have to be under a spacific DO, which are decided by the Council.