Can anyone confirm how many official Pago DO's there are right now? This site lists 14 but another site lists 15 and another lists 17. I have emailed Wines of Spain USA and have attempted to contact the Agricultural Ministry, but I am not having any luck...
First of all, it's highly recommended to not use Catavino as a source for anything on Spanish wines. In addition to being dated, the articles were never very well-written or researched and all facts presented should be questioned. Everything solid on Spain you should get from GuildSomm, the Oxford Companion, or Wine Bible. On my site, the main focus is Spain (feel free to enjoy it as you like), but it's not really organized in to a website for easy research like the three previous titles.
Completely ignore the Grandes Pagos association. That is complete poo and a pay-for-play organization with various members coming and going. In the last year or so, it seems to be near complete collapse. It's exactly the same as the ridiculous "Grand Cro" association a number of Croatian producers started three years ago. There are indeed some fine wines in this but the, "All my wines are Grand Cru because I pay to say so." is beyond laughable.
Vino de Pago is not a DO. While they hold the same level of being a Protected Geographic Indication, they're not classified as a DO and I'm not sure where this started entering the vocabulary as they're not stated as such in Spain, quite the opposite actually. To state DO Pago is incorrect although I can only guess some member of the group started saying this at a trade fair and it stuck.
A broader question to any Masters who might be floating around the boards these summer days: are the Vinos de Pago fair game at Advanced or Master exam levels? I ask because there's a great deal of rumbling among Spanish winemakers about the lack of transparency (how Spanish...) of this classification and that it has less meaning than DOCG in Italy which was essentially invented because they had elevated too many regions to DOC. "This DO goes up to 11."
Again, with the Vinos de Pago, there are some fine wines in there, but there are others that are not and it bears no semblance as to how one goes about creating a Cru system similar to France's.