Gran Reserva Meaning: It’s Aged

Gran Reserva Aging Requirements

Spanish Gran Reserva Aging Requirements

Wine Type Oak Aging Bottle Aging
Red Rioja Gran Reserva 24 months 24 months (5 years total)
Red Gran Reserva 18 months (5 years total, not necessarily in bottle)
White Gran Reserva 6 months (4 years total, not necessarily in bottle)
Rosé Gran Reserva 6 months (4 years total, not necessarily in bottle)
Cava Gran Reserva 30 months on the lees

With Spanish wines, Gran Reserva means that the wine’s been aged. Gran Reserva is used throughout Spain for red, white, rose, and Cava wines. Gran Reserva wines come from outstanding vintages where the wines can mature for an extended time. Spanish Red Gran Reserva ages for 5 years before release.

Here’s what Gran Reserva means, and what you need to know.

What Are the Aging Requirements for Spanish Gran Reserva Wines

Rioja alavesa - attribute ShauryNash - Gran Reserva Meaning
Rioja Alavesa, Spain. Attribute: ShauryNash

Different styles of Spanish wines carry the label term “Gran Reserva”. Depending on the wine region and wine style, the aging requirements vary.

Red Rioja Gran Reserva Aging Requirements

Red Rioja Gran Reserva, or vino tinto, requires 24 months in barrel and 24 months in buttle, but 5 total years of aging.

Red Gran Reserva Aging Requirements (Not Rioja)

Red Grand Reserva regulations from other Spanish winemaking regions are slightly less rigid, requiring 18 months in barrel and 5 years of total aging.

Helpful Wine Buying Tip: The youngest Red Gran Reserva wine from Spain that you’ll find in your local bottle shop will be 5 years old. That’s school-age!

White and Rose Gran Reserva Aging Requirements

White and Rose Gran Reserva wines only spend 6 months aging in barrel but still need 4 years of bottle. White and rose Gran Reserva wines are uncommon and not widely available. If you get the chance to taste these wines, seize the opportunity!

Cava Gran Reserva Aging Requirements

If you enjoy sparkling wines, then your Cava Gran Reserva will need to spend 30 months aging on the lees before release. This will ensure a lovely toasty brioche note.

What Does Red Gran Reserva Wine Taste Like?

Red Gran Reserva wines from Spain will have distinctive aged notes. These wines have matured for years waiting for you to enjoy them. Fresh fruits fade to dried fruits, potpourri, leather, and maybe even nuts. Think savory and earthy. Here are a few descriptors to get you started:

  • Sour cherry
  • Wild strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Lilac
  • Tobacco
  • Coconut
  • Balsamic
  • Toast
  • Dried sage
  • Dark chocolate
  • Black olive
  • Licorice

Expect mature, plush tannins, a streak of acidity, and a fine, long finish. These wines demand the highest-quality grapes and winemaking to enable them to age 5 years in bottle.

What Other Countries Use Gran Reserva for Wine?

Spain isn’t the only country to use “Gran Reserva” on their wine labels. You’ll find Gran Reserva on wines from:

  • Chile
  • Argentina
  • Mexico

If you see “Gran Reserva” on a bottle of wine from these countries, it typically means that the wine spent time aging in oak and will be of higher quality than wines without the label designation when they come from the same producer.

Helpful Wine Buying Tip: Gran Reserva wines don’t have to be made from certain grapes or according to certain wine styles. For example, you can find Cabernet Sauvignon with Gran Reserva on the label.

Thirsty for More?

If you love Spanish wines, check out this list of Spanish red wines you must try (at least once).

Did you know that Rioja color codes its wine labels? Who knew? Check it out!

I’m a big believer in doing side-by-side tastings to boost your wine knowledge. Here’s how to host your own wine tasting for beginners.

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