specialist wine merchants listed & mapped! (June 2019)


Understanding the Italian Wine Classification System!

Chianti bottle from goodwineonline.co.ukItaly as we all know is a country with a rich and long heritage of producing fine wines. It’s history, like it’s wine, shares a lot of similarities with neighbouring France, but there are a number of differences, mainly in the wine classification approach.

First a history lesson:- Italy’s wine classification system began in 1963 after the Italian Government decided they wanted a system similar to the French Appellation Controlee regime for recognising great wines & preserving quality for exported wines to the European Union. The system originally introduced 2 categories, these are the following:-

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) was introduced to preserve local wine making customs & produce good quality wine. Wines had to be produced in specified ways, with specified grapes in a specified area, and that area was defined by the Government. Any wines that didn’t meet these strict standards were labelled as “Vino Da Tavola” (VDT), and had to be labelled as such.

Unfortunately, a number of producers of blended wines (something that was frowned upon by the new system) and these were reduced to label their wines as “Vino Da Tavola”, whilst still being charged at an expensive rate. Furthermore, any wine that matched the DOC standard was given an award as such. Often, a great VDT was more expensive and higher quality than a terrible DOC. The system needed to change, and it did in 1992.

In 1992, the Italian Government introduced two new classifications, the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) for wines that matched both the DOC requirements & passed a blind taste test by Governmental officials. This was the premier wine in Italy, and was sold as such (often with a security label around the head of the bottle). There were also Indicazione geografica tipica (IGT), wines that are produced within a specific region of Italy, yet do not match the same levels of standards decreed by DOC. Many great Italian wines, such as Super Tuscans, are IGT wines.

So how do you fine a Good Italian Wine? Well, DOCG are widely regarded as being excellent wines, but you do pay for them. DOC & IGT wines are very good in most cases, and there are even some great VDT wines. Speaking to a local wine merchant, or doing research on the wine (such as Industry Awards & Wine Reviews), can help you make an informed choice on which wine to have.

see our list of specialist Italian Wine Merchants in the UK


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