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March 22, 2006                                                            

Spain’s winemaking regulators outlaw alternative closures in top Spanish wines

NAPA, Calif. – A new Spanish law governing wine closures in some of Spain’s top wine producing regions insists that only cork can be used as a closure for still and sparkling wines in order for it to gain (Denominación de Origen) D.O. status. It outlaws the use of alternative wine closures such as screw caps and synthetic closures, in 11 of Spain’s top wine producing regions. The Catalan Minister of Agriculture and INCAVI, the Catalan Institute of vines and wines introduced the new law at the end of 2005, modifying its existing rules governing viticulture and oenology set down in 2002.

The D.O. is the standard classification for quality wine in Spain, akin to the U.S.’s American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) Italy’s Denominazione di Origine Controllata (D.O.C.) and France’s Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AC). The new law affects wines made in the 11 Catalan D.O.s in northeastern Spain including Catalunya, Costers del Segre, Montsant, Pla de Bages, Tarragona, Alella, Conca de Barberà, Empordà, Penedès, Terra Alta and Priorat. Grape growers in these regions were the first to make distinctively international style wines. The Priorat region in particular, is considered the new star of Spanish wine, with its red wines developing a cult following especially among wine lovers abroad. Penedès is the region best known for producing the bulk of Spain’s traditional-method sparkling wine, Cava. All Cava must be bottled in cork, as well as all red and white wines from these 11 regions.

“This Spanish law is yet another endorsement for the cork closure,” says Elisa Pedro, Director of Communication & International Relations for APCOR, the consortium of Portuguese cork producers. “Spanish law makers and wine producers are responding to what wine drinkers the world over have been telling us for a long time – cork is a sign of quality for wine.”

APCOR recently launched its international Campaign for Cork, a $US 3 million campaign to promote the use of cork as wine closures. A recent market study of the United States wine trade, carried out as part of this campaign, found that nine out of ten consumers think that non-cork closures sometimes or often cheapen a bottle of wine.  These findings confirm earlier consumer surveys:

A 2005 closure survey by the Wine Spectator showed 81% of those questioned in an internet survey preferred cork closures compared to 18% who preferred screw caps.

In 2004, Wine Intelligence, a leading international wine industry consultancy, conducted a major survey of American consumer attitudes to two types of seal, cork stoppers and aluminum capsules (screw caps). Two thirds of the respondents thought it was positive to buy wine with a cork stopper, 52% rejected aluminum capsules and only 1% said they did not like to drink wine sealed with a cork.

APCOR is a consortium of more than 280 cork companies, representing approximately 80% of the Portuguese cork business volume and 85% of all cork exports from Portugal. APCOR stands for “Associação Portuguesa da Cortiça” – Portuguese Cork Association. It was founded in 1956 and is based in Santa Maria de Lamas, near Porto in Portugal.  Its mission is to represent and promote natural cork and all products made of cork. Companies involved in the production, commerce and export of cork-based products are members of this association.

For further information, please contact:
Balzac Communications & Marketing
Paul Wagner/Helen Pitt
Tel: + 1 707 255 7667



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