If you pick up a bottle of Italian wine, you’ll likely find one of these designations somewhere on the label. But what do they mean?
Back in the 1960s, some Italian winemakers followed their French counterparts and took their first steps towards determining quality standards for Italian wines and classifying regional wines according to the local wine making traditions. Thanks to their efforts, a 4-class wine ranking system was introduced by the Italian Government.
The DOC category was introduced in 1963 – as was the DOCG though it only began to be used from 1982 – followed by the IGT category in 1992.
DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) means controlled and guaranteed designation of origin. DOCG represents the highest classification for Italian wines. It ensures controlled production methods, guaranteed wine quality and geographic authenticity.
There are severe rules to be adhered to in producing DOCG wines such as the grape variety, winemaking procedures and barrel/bottle maturation.
Every DOCG wine is tested officially and the bottles have a numbered government seal across the neck.
There are fewer than 80 DOCG Italian wines; among them we can find some of Italy’s top wines, such as Barolo, Brunello or Chianti Classico.
DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) means controlled designation of origin. Wines marked with DOC are analysed and produced in a specific region in Italy according to the local winemaking rules and traditions.
In Italy, there are around 330 individual DOC titles. Those that are of a consistently high quality become eligible for promotion to DOCG status.
IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) means typical regional wine. The IGT classification focuses more on the wine’s region of origin than the grape varieties or wine style. The IGT designation was created to give a certain freedom to Italian winemakers who couldn’t meet all the DOC or DOCG regulations but were still producing excellent wines. The Super Tuscans are characteristic of IGT wines.
VdT (Vino da Tavola) means Table Wine and represents the lowest and most basic level of Italian wine.
This category had a certain prestige in the 1970s and 1980s, thanks to the experimental and professional winemakers who produced top quality red wine outside of the official classification system, under the VdT title. After the introduction of the IGT category, the VdT returned to its original status in signifying the lowest level of Italian wines.