Definition - What does Gran Reserva mean?
By tradition in the Old World, there are many means by which wine was/is aged that determine how they are to be labeled. The label designation of how the wine was aged is a way to inform those who purchase the wines.
Gran Reserva in Spain is specific to the region of Rioja. If this is found on a label along with a DOC (Denominacion de Origen Controlata) Rioja blue sticker of a vine, it means that the wine has been chosen from a special vintage. The requirements by law for the Gran Reserva designation is that the wine spend a minimum of 2 years in oak barrels and a further 3 years of aging in the bottle before it is released for sale. Other special labelling indicating other means and times of aging are Crianza and Reserva.
In Portugal, Gran Reserva signifies that the wine has been aged for a minimum of 2 years in oak and 3 in bottle.
WineFrog explains Gran Reserva
The term Gran Reserva of Portugal and Spain hold significant information on how wine is made and aged. Other countries have their own version of Gran Reserva. In Italy, it is Riserva. Each region in Italy determines how the wine is aged in order to use the term on the wine label.
- Chianti Classico Riserva must be aged a minimum of 27 months before release, with no specifics as to how long the wine should spend in casks or bottles.
- Brunello di Montalcino Riserva has to be aged a minimum of 5 years, with 2 of them in cask.
- Barolo Riserva indicates that the wine must be aged for a minimum of 5 years.
- Barbaresco Riserva is a wine that has been aged a minimum of 4 years before it is released for sale.
In other wine regions in the New World, the term Reserve does not hold any specific regulations for it to be labeled as such. This may indicate a wine from an estate which produces a special blend, from a special vineyard and/or a wine which has been aged in a special manner, sometimes exclusively for one vintage.