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The Wine Standards Board for the Wines of Madrid Appellation of Origin is responsible for the fulfilment of the Regulations of the Appellation of Origin. Its activities can be outlined in four essential points:
Although the Wine Standards Board depends organisation-wise on the Regional Ministry of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Planning since 2008, it is a decentralised administrative agency whose plenary is renewed every four years by the vine growers and wineries registered in the Wines Of Madrid A.O. It consists of six members elected by the vine growers, six representatives of the wineries, two more members appointed by the Community of Madrid and a vice-president who is the General Assistant Manager of Agriculture and Rural Development. All of the above can be re-elected and are in charge of the election of the Wine Standards Board President.
All positions on the board are not-for-profit and their function is to establish the industry’s norms of activity for every campaign. The physical labours of quality control, register update etc. are carried out by personnel of the Board, under the General Secretary’s direction. The supervision of vineyards, wines and wineries are under the control of quality inspectors. The Board Register is where the vineyards wishing to join the appellation of origin register, this being the only means of producing wines protected by the Wines of Madrid A.O. The register can only accept cultivations within the production territory’s borders which fulfil the established requirements (grape varieties, vine density and cultivation methods).
The wineries belong to other Registers and are classified according to their activity as production wineries, crianza wineries, storage and bottling plants. The Board’s quality inspectors are involved in the process from the very beginning of the grape harvest, checking the origin of the grapes, the quantity of fruit transferred to the winepress, the wine/ grape juice yield and the production methods, avoiding forbidden procedures, such as high pressure juice extraction, the heating of the grapes, the addition of prohibited substances to the wine etc.
The Board also records the existing wine quantity in each of the wineries and the proportional amounts of aged and new wine.
In addition, the wines will have to offer the necessary qualities in order to be considered as suitable to be protected by the A.O and receive the standard back label. These quality control criteria are established by two parameters, laboratory analysis and the quality criteria of the Board´s Wine Tasting Committee.
The corresponding chemical analysis is carried out at the wine laboratory of the Community of Madrid, located in El Encín, within few kilometres from Alcalá de Henares, which is equipped with the necessary technology to complete the analysis that can guarantee the quality and detect excesses or presence of prohibited substances.
Even though chemical analysis is vital, the definitive approval for granting the A.O. back label comes from the wine-tasting committee. Wines are made to be consumed and some important elements in their final quality are found in such small quantities that are imperceptible even by analysis. A small variation in one of those substances can really mark the difference between a quality wine and a “vulgar” one.
In the wine-tasting committee of the Wines of Madrid A.O. oenologists from the wineries whose wines have been already qualified do not take part, as occurs with other appellations. Its members are prestigious technicians who belong to different fields of the industry such as the wine-making scene, the hotel and catering industry and the specialized press.
In order to boost the quality of Madrid’s wines to compete with other appellations, the Board has supported from the beginning strict criteria for granting the A.O back label. Those demanding conditions are evident in the unsuccessful efforts of many wineries to reach the minimum quality standard. As a result, the wineries that were granted the Appellation, currently present wines that are able to compete with products coming from any high quality wine region. However, the Board’s task is not simply limited to the back label procedure. Then follows the task of controlling the wines of the market, guaranteeing their Appellation and quality and circulating the improvements and experiments on wine- making through commercial campaigns, in order to promote the general image of the Wines of Madrid and the commercial brands incorporated.