Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Italian Wine Classifications, What do they mean?

We all know the largest producer in the world of wines is who??? Italy!  20 regions in Italy produce in excess of 3,700 different varieties.  Wow! That's what must make them the big Wine-O!

Italian wines are currently characterized into for different classifications.  Learning these classifications will explain to many of you why you enjoy the certain varieties of wine... Let's start from the highest classification and work our way down:

DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita = Certification of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) Established in 1980.  
At the beginning five wines were promoted to DOCG status:

  • Barbaresco
  • Barolo
  • Brunello di Montalcino
  • Chianti
  • Vino Nobile di Montelpulciano. 

I could not even begin to tell you which of the above rates better for me... I love them all.

Currently 25 wines have been given this highest classification. Now you are asking yourself what does DOCG actually mean?  They have to be classified as a DOC for at least five years and they must surpass all other DOC wines in quality and characteristics. DOCG wines must pass an evaluation of a tasting committee before being bottled. They must have characteristics related to the culture, environment, and climate. As you can see the guidelines for this classification are very strict.

Ok so you saw the DOCG wines had to be classified DOC for at least 5 years so what is DOC you ask?

DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata = Certification of Controlled Origin) Established in 1963. Approximately 300 wines are classified as DOC located throughout Italy.  DOC wines are produced in specific well-defined regions, according to specific rules designated to preserve the traditional wine making practices of the individual regions. These wines have similar characteristics and guidelines as the DOCG wines.

DOC wines include:

  • Abruzzo
  • Basilicata
  • Calabria
  • Campania
  • Emilia-Romagna
  • Friuli-Venezia Guilia
  • Lazio, Liguria
  • Lombardia
  • Marche
  • Molise 
  • Piemonte
  • Puglia
  • Sardegna
  • Sicilia
  • Toscana
  • Trentino-Suditrol
  • Umbria
  • Valle D’Aosta
  • Veneto
I bet you're say there sure are plenty to choose from!!

The next and more recent classification is:

IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) Typical Geographic Indication. As the acronym suggests these wines are related to the particular production area. Established in 1992.   It is used most famously in Tuscany with the addition of French varietals like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to Chianti Classico, creating the Supertuscans

The final classification:

VdT (Vino da Tavola). Table Wine.  This classification is where most of the wines fall into. This basically means that these wines do not have any designation. The producer may produce his wine as he sees fit following a few rules.  The labels on these wine bottles are not permitted to list the vintage or grape variety. This doesn't mean that these wines are not extraordinary in quality. The most stellar of this classification is Tuscan.

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