Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Italian Wine Classification System

Italian wines are more than just a passing fancy here at the old blogspot.  As a conscientious retailer I  pay attention to what my customers buy here and since the Italians always overperform at our tastings, more often than not, I report on those wines here.  Then I usually neglect to explain what the heck a DOC or DOCG rating means in those reports, so this post is meant to atone for those lapses. 

Last Friday, by the way, the Il Falchetto Tenuta Del Fant Moscato d'Asti tripled the sales of the next most popular wine on the table.  Admittedly I promoted it heavily, especially after just blogging about the Moscato-loving Valdeon Blue cheese here, so I guess we need to blog about the Moscato soon, just to be fair.

Anyway, here is an explanation of the four classification levels in Italian wine law, three of which were created in 1963 and modeled after the French system, while the fourth was a necessary add-on in 1992.

1.  VdT (Vino da Tavola) is the lowest quality level in the Italian system and the least important to us since we rarely see those wines here.  VdT wines, simply put, are Italian table wine that can be anything from anywhere in the country.  In 1992 this level became even less relevant than before with the creation of the IGT level.

2.  IGT (Indicazione Geographica Tipica) was the necessary class of Italian wines forced into the system in 1992 by the Super Tuscan revolution of the mid-eighties.  Those producers chose to deliberately defy the existing system with their designer label creations using alternative grape varieties(see blogpost 1/16/14).  In order to save face, the government had to distinguish those fine wines from the plebian VdTs.

3.  DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) is the main tier of the Italian system with three hundred thirty vineyards being so classified.  Those vineyards are viticultural zones restricted in the grape varieties approved for wine production and the resultant wines must reflect the historic style of a region.

4.  When a DOC vineyard shows consistently high quality over time it may earn DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) status.  There are currently seventy-three such regions in Italy with the first being designated in 1982, almost twenty years after the category was created.  DOCG wines, like DOCs, control for production methods but with even more stringency.  Yields are reduced; ageing is often required, either in barrel or bottle; and most importantly, DOCG wines must pass an analysis by government-licensed inspectors before bottling to prevent production deceit.  To assure the "guarantee" implicit in this level, the bottles are then sealed and numbered.

Please join us Friday the 31st of January as we again tackle red wines here.  The lineup will include six of the following: Casarsa Italian Pinot Nero, Torres Spanish Sangre de Toro, Maggio Lodi Petite Sirah, IQUE Argentine Malbec, Sterling Carneros Pinot Noir, and Provenance P-wave Napa Red Blend.  Kunde Sauvignon Blanc will be the event's token white.  

No comments:

Post a Comment