Since the 2nd century B.C., Italian wine has flourished in production and artistry. Over thousands of years in perfecting technique, Italy has been awarded superior status in the wine world, renowned for its complex reds and fresh whites. Today, Italy is responsible for 1/3 of the world’s wine.
The annual production of Italian wine (41.6 million hl) is spread across 20 regions. While most are recognized, several regions and their sub-appellations such as Tuscany and Piedmont are praised for creating high-end premium wines.
Within all regions, Government controls (overseen by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) are in place to classify wines produced in the country. The classifications distinguish premium wines from table wines and are a great way for you to determine which bottle to bring home.
1. DOCG – Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin)
This classification, which includes 21 appellations, was created in 1992 in order to highlight historically known regions that produce the highest of quality wines. Each bottle is sealed with a government number across the cap or cork.
2. DOC – Denominazione di Origine Controlla (Denomination of Controlled Origin)
Instated in 1963 to place conditions on wineries aiming to create higher quality wines that could compete with French wines that were dominating the wine market.
3. IGT – Indicazione Geografica Tipica (Typical Geographical Indication)
Helps to distinguish regions making great wines, however, are not prestigious enough for DOC class.
4. Vini di Tavola (Table Wine)
Classification requires loose guidelines for winemakers to follow.
This much loved wine region produces the third largest amount of DOC/G wines in Italy. While many varieties grow in Tuscany, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese grapes thrive in the dry climate and make up most of the wines made in the region. For example, well-known Tuscan wines such as Super Tuscans, Chianti and Brunello de Montalcino consist mainly of the two varieties. Tuscan whites include Pinot Blanc and Pinot Grigio, however, Trebbiano is a native grape to the region that is a fundamental variety in Tuscan Vin Santo or ‘holy wine.’
Wine: 2008 Tenuta di Biserno Bibbona IGT. 96 points
Wine Advocate called this vintage “drop dead gorgeous.” The estate is hidden among the hills of Bibbona, a sub-appellation in western Tuscany. Made from Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine is brilliant with its complex nose of dark fruits, chocolate and spicy oak.
The region of Piedmont has the largest number of DOC and DOCG areas and best-known premium wines. Barbera, Barolo, Nebbiolo and Moscato d’Asti are all created under top classifications. In fact, wines made in the sub-appellation of Barolo (made primarily of Nebbiolo) became one of the first to receive DOCG status. Barolo wines are known as the King of Italian wines and are made for cellaring as they become velvety with age. Barbera grapes, grown in the same area as Barolo, are also popular with their fruity and delicate flavours. Additionally, the region is quite famous for Vermouth, as the liquor originated in Piedmont.
Wine: Sandrone 2008 Barolo Cannubi Boschis DOCG. 98 points
The vineyard of the Sandrone estate is said to be one of the greatest sights in the entire Barolo region. Nebbiolo grapes make up the flagship wine, which has received 100 points for previous vintages. The 2008 Barolo is a deep and intense red-black colour with aromatics of red cherries and concentrated flavours of dark fruit. The producer recommends that this wine lay in the cellar for 10-20 years.
Currently, WineCollective’s partner Tannic is featuring these premium Italian wines, among others. A quick and easy sign up for a Tannic membership will give you weekly access to some of the best and most unique wines around the world. If a membership isn’t your thing, we’re happy to offer some knowledge in high-end Italian wine classifications and regions that you can use during future shopping experiences.