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Discover with me the meaning of quality and the passion to achieve it. The appreciation comes through the knowledge.

Welcome back on my website, in this article I talk about the many certifications and acronyms there are for the Italian wines. There are important certifications of origin that are a warranty for consumers, let’s go and know them

Italian and European wine certifications, what are DOCG, DOC, DOP, IGP or IGT

The National Certifications before, and the European Certifications later are introduced the certification of origin for the products, to reduce the fakes and the similar sounding names and protect the consumers.

The certification in Europe is regulated from 2009 with 2 indications of area: the most important and strict is Protected Designation of Origin PDO or DOP in Italy; the second is more generic, Protected Geographical Indication PGI or IGP in Italy. Every certification is translated in each Country, and this generate different acronyms, this does not help the consumers but at least the logo is always the same.

The number of products certificated is an indicator of product variability in a Country and it indicates the complexity of territory, an important variable to discover the peculiarities.

In Italy there are now, 2021, 526 different wines with a European certification, this means there are 526 different wines to try and discover: 408 are with the higher certification PDO and 118 are with PGI. The Country is, now, the bigger producer of wine in the World.

To have a benchmark, France, the second higher quantity producer, has about the 20% less certificated wines, with a total of 436 wines.

A common question is on what the certifications regulate, and which are the differences.

There are some common parameters regulated from every certification but with a different flexibility on rules. The common parameters are:

  • the maximum yield of grapes per hectare;
  • the transformation yield of grapes into wine;
  • the minimum natural alcoholic proof;
  • the alcoholic strength for consumption;
  • the vines from which they can be obtained;
  • the correctives allowed.

The certifications guarantee that the product is from a specific area, and it follows the rules of a standard. This is a guarantee of a minimum quality but there are no certifications that guarantee the maximum quality. It depends on winery and vineyard, to find it we must investigate the history and the expertise of the producers.

In Italy a wine without certification is denominated “vino da tavola”, literally table wine. A Table wine could be a production done outside the area of origin or in a winery that did not follow the rules of the certification, also if the result is excellent. With the definition of Vino da Tavola we can find superb wines with many awards or the worst wine in the Country, the final evaluation is completely in charge at the customers.

The first step of certification is the European certification PGI Protected Geographical Indication, in Italy is IGP Indicazione Geografica Protetta. This classification is a substitution of the old Italian IGT Indicazione Geografica Tipica (typical geographical indication), sometimes we could find also this second acronyms, they are essentially equivalent.

With the IGP certification we cover normally a relatively large geographical area, as a province. The IGP or IGT certifications have generic rules, but at least the 85% of grapes must be cultivated in the area and from authorised vineyards.

The higher certification PDO has a strict regulation, with stricter rules and more controls for every step of production, also on the final result. Another difference from PDO and PGI is the size of the area considered, normally wide for the PGI and reduced or very small for PDO. The rules and the controls are in charge at a Consortium for each PDO, in Italy they are 122. In Italy, in particular, the productions are so various and wide that there are other 2 sub-certifications inside the general PDO: DOC Denominazione di Origine Controllata, the literal translation is Controlled Designation of Origin, and DOCG Designazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, in English Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin.

With this level of certification, the 100% of grapes are from the certificated area. The DOC and DOCG have similar rules and the entire production cycle is regulated, with controls in every step of the process and a final chemical-physical and organoleptic analyses.

For the higher level of certification, DOCG, every rule is very tight, the maximum yield of grapes per hectare is further reduced, as well as the corrective practices allowed, and, in general, all controls are double.

The DOCG area is normally tiny, sometimes it has the size of a village. Not all wines can have the DOCG. It can be requested after at least 7 years of DOC certification and it is reserved for wines of particular value, with high intrinsic qualitative characteristics and which have acquired prestige and commercial value at national and international level. The law also establishes that the product cannot be distributed in containers that exceed the maximum capacity of 6 litres. Each bottle must also be equipped with a label bearing an alphanumeric code that is issued by the state. This label is assigned to the bottlers and must be applied on every single bottle produced.

Inside the certified areas, we can have smaller areas with specific peculiarities in terms of terrain and sun exposition. In this case we can have, near the name of the wine, the name of the area as example we can have the Barolo DOCG “Albarella”. The area considered the core of the historical production is indicated as “Classico”, thus we can find the Chianti DOCG and the Chianti Classico DOCG We could also have other sub-areas with some peculiarities, and we could find the name of the area near the name of the wine.

We could also have a wine Riserva, Superiore, Vendemmia Tardiva or Millesimato but I talk about them in another video.

Now we know which are the certifications in Italy and Europe, we know now that we can find a typical product with the certification IGT or IGP, we know that DOC, or better DOCG, are very defined products, with a high control of the product cycle. We must remember that if we want a real very good wine, we must know, with or without certification, the winery, and its history.

How many DOCs or DOCGs do you know? Which is your favourite? Write them in the comments, click the like below, subscribe my channel and follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Follow your passion and keep in touch!