I've managed to escape from Chile, yet the language of the country still haunts me. Tonight I went for a Spanish wine. I've enjoyed a lot of the Spanish wine I have drank in the past, luckily tonight was no exception.
Producer: San Alejandro, Las Rocas
Region: Calatayud DO, Spain (The DO stands for Denominacion de Origen more on the below)
Grape: Garnacha a.k.a Grenache
Note: Nice wine, medium in all respects: body, tannin, acid. Aroma kicks ass: raspberry, wet wool, tar, dark chocolate. Flavour is much more fruity with sour cherry, raspberry, red apple, sauerkraut, pepper, hints of mint, and chocolate. All in all a respectable wine, if pairing with food go for something with decent acid maybe a tomato sauce pasta. Las Rocas gets a B falling into the Nice! category.
A DO is a geographic region with set boundaries. For a wine to put the name of a DO on it's label there are certain rules that must be followed in crafting the wine. Often there are limits set on crop yield (a high yield means the wine will be diluted and poorer quality), there might be define minimum aging periods, rules concerning which grapes can be grown, basically they make rules to ensure a minimum level quality of wine. Not all wineries within a DO must follow the regulation, they must do so only if they wish to use the name of the DO on the label of their wine. Europe is littered with DO's, although the term varies by country, France uses AOC sometimes shortened to AC, Italy DOC and for even higher quality (supposedly) DOCG.
The entire idea was started by France, which happens to house the most famous AOC: Bordeaux. If you see any of these terms on a bottle of wine it's supposed to be a guarantee of quality, although from my experience this is pure malarkey, but it will tell you a little about the wine. If you buy a red Bordeaux you can rest assured that you are going to be drinking some sort of Cab Sauv/Merlot blend. If you buy a red Burgundy you're getting a Pinot Noir if it's a white It's Chardonnay, unless it says Aligote on the label, then it's an Aligote. The whole thing gets quite confusing to be honest, but a little bit of knowledge about these protected regions can greatly aid you in selecting European wine.