Italian Wine Laws (TTM Issue 2)

by Marta Chiavacci

Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico

My name is Marta Chiavacci and I am a sommelier with the Italian organization FISAR.  I have been a sommelier since 2005 and in 2007 was named FISAR Sommelier of the Year.  This past February, I was the sommelier at Casa Italia in Vancouver, BC (my hometown) during the Winter Olympics.  My goal with these articles is to de-mystify wine- Italian wine in particular.

For this inaugural article, I wanted to explain Italian Wine Laws. There are 4 main categories, DOCG, DOC, IGT and Vino da Tavola.

DOCG is Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita or Denomination of Guaranteed Controlled Origin.

This is the strictest of the categories. In order for a wine to qualify as DOCG it must follow certain rules which include the number of vines planted per acre, the volume of wine produced by those vines as well as which varietals qualify. Currently there are 44 DOCG rated wines in Italy with the majority coming from the regions of Piedmont and Tuscany (12 and 7 respectively). Some DOCG wines that you may be familiar with include Barbaresco, Barolo, Chianti, Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino. All DOCG wines have a pink band around the neck of the bottle for easy identification as well as DOCG written on the label. DOC is Denominazione di Origine Controllata or Denomination of Controlled Origin. The rules for this category are similar to DOCG but not as restrictive. Currently there are 318 DOC rated wines in Italy. Again the Piedmont and Tuscany lead the way with 44 and 36 DOC wines respectively. Many of you are familiar with the wine Amarone della Valpolicella but did you know that this wine isn’t a DOCG but a DOC rated wine? Presently it is being considered for an upgrade to DOCG status. Many of the current DOCG wines were DOC before they were upgraded. A very recent example is the Tuscan wine Morellino di Scansano.

IGT stands for Indicazione di Geografica Tipica or Typical Geografic

Degustation

Degustation

Indicators. This category allows the winemaker more freedom of expression. While there are definite rules to follow, (as with DOCG and DOC) here it is possible to include many grapes that are not of Italian origin such as many classic French varietals. Some of Italy’s most expensive wines, such as the ‘Super Tuscans’ are IGT rated. These include Masseto, Solaia and Tignanello.

As for Vino da Tavola, these are simply Table Wines. They are simple and inexpensive. Perhaps Italy’s most famous table wine was Sassicaia. When it was released, the IGT category didn’t exist yet and because it’s made up of non-italian varietals it did not qualify as a DOC so it was labeled a Vino da Tavola. Due to it’s success, a new DOC emerged called DOC Bolgheri (for the area surrounding these famous vineyards) and DOC Sassicaia specifically for the area where the vineyards producing Sassicaia are located.

Until next time,

Salute!

 

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