A Quick Explanation of Italian Wines- IGT, DOC & DOCGJonathan Zeiger
Before I release my article covering the wines of Le Marche, I’d like to make clear to everyone what exactly DOC, DOCG and IGT means. Italian wines can take a lifetime to master (I’m merely on the tip of the iceberg), and can become confusing if you try to wade through them without any prior knowledge. This should act as a good beginning spot for anyone looking to better understand Italian wine.
The IGT, DOC and DOCG acronyms are designations used for the Italian wine appellation system (similar to the French AOP system, from which most countries have modeled their industries). Each individual designation has specific rules controlling the various factors of winegrowing: what grapes are allowed, grapes to yield per hectare (~2.5 acres), geographic borders, alcohol levels, aging, etc. These strict regulations ensure that certified growers have a safeguard on the quality and the authenticity of their products.
It should be noted that while the levels of strictness differ between the designations, this is not an indication of one being “better” than the others. You can find great wines in every category, and within each category lies a plethora of styles.
Indicazione di Geografica Tipica, or Indication of Typical Geography, is the 1st level of designation for Italian wines. With this designation, winegrowers do not have to follow the specific growing and winemaking rules as they do with the DOC & G, and thus have more creative freedom. You can find wine beautiful IGT wines all across Italy, the results of experimentation outside the lines. The only rule (someone please correct me if I’m wrong) is that the wines must originate in the stated region. An example of an IGT wine is any of the Super Tuscans.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata, or Denomination of Controlled Origin, is the level at which the rules start to kick in. This is the main tier of designation for Italian wines, covering many of the styles throughout Italy. Within this category, winemakers are crafting wines that represent the traditional viticulture and enology practices of their respective regions. An example of a DOC is Prosecco.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, or Denomination of Controlled Origin Guaranteed, is the strictest level of designation for Italian wines. Wines that fall under this category must be approved by a panel within the DOCG area to ensure that they indeed follow the rules and can be called DOCG.
The lowest tier of Italian wines is Vino da Tavola, or Table Wine. This is the category which follows no rules and is simply everyday wine that is not meant for categorization. We don’t see much of this here in the US, but they’re certainly out there!
There you go, the basic layout of the Italian DOC system. We want to hear from you, post comments with your favorite wines in any of the categories! JZ