The "Vino de Pago" designation is one that is no way given lightly. In fact it's the highest honor a winery can obtain in Spain. A designation that means so much more than similar designations you can find here in the states.
As you may already be familiar many wineries here in the U.S. will label some of their bottles as a "Single-Estate" wine. But it's not the equivalent of or should it be confused with "Vino de Pago" certification [not that it would be] as some wine books will give you the sense that they are the same or similar, which is NOT the case at all.
So what is it? Vino de Pago, is the highest geographic recognition in Spain and is superior to a DO. Which only designates singular wines that come from a specific area with distinct climatic and soil condition. Only a few of the top estates have been granted the Denominacion de Origen de Pago status and are allowed to put in on their labels.
This Spanish wine category not only demands, but requires the most strict requirements on wine quality to achieve Vinos de Pago. There are only 13 wineries in all of Spain with that special "status" and three of them are in Navarra. Check out the list here. Just to wet your appetites a bit, we sampled wines from all three with that designation and one of them is still a review I need to write about my experiences at Arinzano, but more on that later.
I interviewed Eduardo Ruiz Cortés the export area manager from Bodegas Chivite, who was the very gracious host and tour guide at Arinzano, where I asked him about Vino de Pago certification and what it mean from his perspective. His voice is a little on the soft-side so pump-up the volume.