Italian Wines


About Italian Wines Regulations

About Italian wine regulations

You might have noticed that Italian wines on the labels carry different words like igt doc docg and so on. What do they stand for?

Let us start with which is considered labeling the less precious wines.

Vino da tavola.
This category identifies the wines made from grapes that are allowed, yes there are also grapes that are not allowed, the label has to give information about the producer, but not the vintage ,area of production and varietal. Although very often identified with cheap wines donít forget that a gem of Italian production like sassicaia has been a vino da tavola for very long before to be approved and recognized by jurisdiction.


Igt means identificazione geografica tipica. This classing is more recent and it was often an automatic upgrading of a lot of vino da tavola. Wines that have the igt label are produced in areas that can be as big as a whole region, and belong to approved varietals. Depending on the rules there might be other generic restrictions. What was written about table wines before can apply also here, remember sassicaia.





 Doc wines
Doc wines are wines produced in by law limited territory. This are wines of the Italian tradition and so the controls aim to protect the quality and origins of production.
The first Italian wine to receive doc approval has been Marsala wine with the Law Decree of the 12th of July 1963, n. 930.

Docg wines

Wines with Appellation of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin (DOCG).
The category includes wine DOCG wines produced in specific geographical areas in respect of a specific disciplinary production (approved by ministerial decree).
The DOCG is reserved for DOC wines known for at least five years that are deemed to be of particular value in relation to the intrinsic quality characteristics compared to the average of those of similar wines so labeled, as a result of the impact of traditional natural factors, human and historians and which have commercial value and reputation nationally and internationally.
These wines, before being put on the market, must be submitted during the production of a preliminary physical-chemical analysis and organoleptic assessment that certifies compliance with the requirements of the specification. The organoleptic examination must also be repeated, batch for lot, even at the stage of bottling, the wines DOCG is finally also a sensory (taste) performed by a Commission, judging that the requirements are fulfilled.

Some of these wines may also bear the words "Classico", "Riserva" or "superiore."
The specification "Classico" indicates a wine produced in a zone of more ancient origin in the same DOC or DOCG.

The qualification of "reserve" is given to wines that are submitted to a period of longer aging than that required by the specification.

The words Superiore is awarded to wines that have higher alcohol content than that prescribed in the specification.

Why are these laws so important?

Not only they protect wines from adulteration, but for igt doc and docg wines they determine the maximum productivity per hectare. Furthermore for many doc and docg wines they donít allow the use of irrigation, or establish conditions for that. In simply words without or little irrigation the ingredients composing the wine will be more concentrated.

Many regulations also include what is allowed to be written on the label. This is done to give correct information to the consumer

Whenever you want to know more about an Italian wine check the internet for the Italian wine law protecting it. You will get a lot of information about the characteristics of the wine as the specific wine law is designed to protect its unique features.

In my opinion there is only one other country in the world that has done so much for its wines, and it is France.

Now compare the situation to other countries that have no or little regulations. You will never get certain information on how the wine is made.

Mainly the information you will get is done by the producer itself and so you have to trust him or by third parties like wine magazines.

Instead of many Italian wines through the reading of the wine laws i know for sure that production per hectare was limited, there was no use of irrigation, the grapes where handpicked, and no use of wood chips.

What are wood chips?

Taken from Wikipedia:

Although oak barrels have long been used by winemakers, many wineries now use oak wood chips for aging wine more quickly and also adding desired woody aromas along with butter and vanilla flavors. Oak chips can be added during fermentation or during aging. In the latter case, they are generally placed into fabric sacks and placed into the aging wine. The diversity of chips available gives winemakers numerous options. Oak chips have the benefit of imparting intense oak flavoring in a matter of weeks while traditional oak barrels would need a year or more to convey similar intensity. Critics claim that the oak flavoring from chips tend to be one-dimensional and skewed towards the vanilla extract with the wines still lacking some of the physical benefits that barrel oak imparts. The use of oak powder is also less common than chips, although they are a very practical alternative if oak character is to be introduced during fermentation. Oak planks or staves are sometimes used, either during fermentation or aging. Wines made from these barrel alternatives typically do not age as well as wines that are matured in barrels. Improvements in micro-oxigenation have allowed winemakers to better mimic the gentle aeration of oak barrels in stainless steel tanks with oak chips.

More information about the subject:

This is why for me it makes sense to buy a good bottle of Italian wine rather spending as much on other wines.

Beside the rating of wine spectator and other magazines, what can you know about these wines for sure?

I hope the Italian choice was the right one, as for me it protects the consumer. Unfortunately it seems to me that we are going the wrong way, and that there is the will, for higher profits, to deregulate and make the consumer less aware.

For now my wish is i gave you one more reason to enjoy a good bottle of Italian wine.

Sincerely Tommaso


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