All about... DOCG

Italian wine is "old world" like French, their labelling of wine is confusing to say the least as it has evolved over time rather than having the benefit of hindsight that new world wines enjoyed. However in the last 50 years they have evolved a series of classifications to designate quality, which works very well.

As we're only interested in quality wines at Decanting Club, let's start at the top and work down, these are labels you should look for on bottles of Italian wine:
DOCG. This is the highest classification an Italian wine can have. The important letter here (we explain the others below) is 'G'. That stands for garantita, or guaranteed. It means it has been made following stringent wine-making rules and nearly all of Italy's most famous wines will have this label; Barolo, Brunello, Chianti Classico etc.
The yield of the vines is reduced, to increase quality, and official government tasting commissions sample and approve each batch of wine before DOCG is granted. Every bottle must also display an official number which is only released upon approval of the tasting committee.
DOC. This stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata which is way too hard for the rest of the world, so we all say "doc". Less stringent than DOCG, but still the wine must be made locally, with local grapes and using defined wine making techniques that are designed to preserve local traditions.
IGT. Indicazione Geografica Tipica means the grapes have been grown, and the wine produced, in a particular region of Italy. How the rules on how the wine is made are very flexible. A lot of this wine should be avoided, but there are famous exceptions like the Super Tuscans that are fantastic.
VdT.  Vino da Tavola is table wine - equivalent to Vin de Table in France. If you are in Italy, these are often surprisingly good, but the ones that are exported to the UK and elsewhere are probably best avoided.

Very occasionally a quality wine producer will use the VdT label, with its relaxed rules, to experiment with something quite different. As and when we find these, we will include them in the club.


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