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Home 3rd January 2012 - DOCGs double, to 73
3rd January 2012 - DOCGs double, to 73

by Walter Speller -

A while ago one of our members asked us how many DOCG's Italy has. Although this seemed a simple question, at the timeit proved impossible to give a straight answer. This was due to the fact that Italy was busy announcing one new DOC and DOCG after the other in an effort to tie up as many loose ends as possible before regulating powers would be relayed to the EU within the context of the Common Market Organisation. Readers may remember that national wine law within Europe is no longer to be sanctioned by the individual member states, but must now go through Brussels. Hence Italy's panicky reaction of creating a flurry of new DOCG's and DOC's.

The Italian blogosphere tried to keep up with the many new or elevated designations for which it was practically impossible to get official confirmation. Even Federdoc, the federation of Italian DOCs and DOCGs, was unable to provide clear and timely updates via its website, so the only recourse was to turn to MIPAAF, the Ministero delle Politiche, Agricole Alimentari e Forestali, the Italian agricultural department. In its online press releases it congratulated mostly itself on the efficiency and speed with which changes were made. And the speed was indeed quite dazzling in the context of Italy's notoriously slow and labyrinthine bureaucratic system.

So how many DOCG's are there now? As the dust settles now that the DOC tornado has finally subsided, there seem to be 73 at the last count, one of which, the new DOCG Lison, is shared between Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Piemonte has most, 16 DOCGs supplemented by 44 DOCs. Close on its heels is Tuscany with 11 DOCGs and 40 DOCs. This region seems to have followed the same strategy as Piemonte, which is to upgrade almost any IGT and DOC possible but this is questionable, judging by the general quality and/or absence of a real track record for most of them. The same rings true for Veneto, which upgraded to DOCG Bagnoli Friularo which is significant only locally, while the new DOCG Lison dedicated to grapes renamed Tai Bianco (in the past Tocai Bianco, the same as Tocai Friulano) and Rosso (formerly Tocai Rosso, a local clone of Grenache) is a huge and completely flat area. At the same time Amarone della Valpolicella was, rightfully, elevated to DOCG, as was Piave Malanotte, a sizeable area from the Venetian coast right up to the hills of Vittorio Veneto in the north reserved for the undervalued but traditional red Raboso grape. Let's hope that this will push it in the right, more quality-focused, direction.

But there are many more curiosities, vanities and blatantly opportunist upgrades, the latter clearly the result of private interest over anything that could be put down to quality of grape or provenance. The upgrade of Frascati Superiore seems a good indication of that, as is the first DOCG ever for a rosé from Puglia, Castel del Monte Bombino Nero, Bombino Nero being the variety.  Puglia has set a record: from zero DOCGs to no less than four in one go (Lazio having shot from zero to a mere three).

That the criteria for upgrading DOCs to DOCGs are nebulous, to say the least, is also shown by their complete absence in no fewer than six of Italy's 21 regions. This is nothing short of saying that Valle d'Aoste, Alto Adige, Trentino, Liguria, Molise and Calabria are incapable of producing superior wines. However, the DOC of Carema, which is truly worth a DOCG but resisted an upgrade, puts this neatly into perspective. True enough, this is Italy's tiniest DOC with only two producers, but when I asked one of them about the reason for their resistance, he murmured something like 'too much bureaucratic hassle'.

Bureaucratic hassle or not, several new DOCs such as Venezia and the Vigneti della Serenissima, or Serenissima (which automatically makes me think of the Autostrada of the same name) are nothing more than curiosities. Already the first bottles of Prosecco labelled DOC Venezia have appeared in Venice airport's duty free shop. And the new DOC Roma is another one of these DOCs solely created to capitalise on a famous name, as any indication that provenance or history has played a role in the creation of these designations is completely absent.

It is this fact that makes many of these upgrades ludicrous and the outcome of a political card game more than anything else. The real danger, however, is that this leads to an erosion of the significance and credibility of Italy's DOC system. It is therefore no wonder that more and more quality-focused producers opt out of the DOC system altogether and, instead, voluntarily downgrade their wines to the much more humble IGT.  This is quite understandable as their name on the label seems to provide wine lovers with a much better guarantee of quality than the Italian wine law seems to be willing or able to do.

ITALY'S DOCGs – a complete list as at 31 Dec 2011
* denotes those elevated in the last two years

Piemonte (16)  
Alta Langa *
Asti and Moscato d'Asti
Barbera d'Asti
Barbera del Monferrato Superiore (DOCG only for Superiore)       
Bracchetto d'Acqui (or Acqui)   
Dolcetto Diano d'Alba (or Diano d'Alba) *          
Dogliani (or Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore) *     
Dolcetto di Ovada Superiore (or Ovada)
Erbaluce di Caluso (or Caluso) *
Gavi (or Cortese di Gavi)          
Roero and Roero Arneis           
Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato *

Lombardia (5)  
Scanzo (or Moscato di Scanzo) *
Sforzato di Valtellina (or Sfurzat)
Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico
Valtellina Superiore

Veneto (14)      
Amarone della Valpolicella *      
Bagnoli Friularo (or Friularo Bagnoli) *   
Bardolino Superiore      
Colli Asolani - Prosecco (or Asolo – Prosecco) *
Colli di Conegliano *     
Colli Euganei Fior d'Arancio (or Fior d'Arancio Colli Euganei) *
Conegliano Valdobbiadene – Prosecco (or Conegliano - Prosecco, or Valdobbiadene – Prosecco)         
Lison (shared with Friuli-Venezia Giulia) *
Montello Rosso *
Piave Malanotte (or Malanotte del Piave) *
Recioto della Valpolicella *       
Recioto di Gambellara *
Recioto di Soave         
Soave Superiore          

Friuli-Venezia Giulia (4)           
Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit (including Picolit Gialla) *
Lison (shared with Veneto)        
Rosazzo *

Emilia-Romagna (2)     
Albana di Romagna      
Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto *    

Toscana (11)    
Brunello di Montalcino  
Chianti (including the seven subzones)   
Chianti Classico           
Elba Aleatico Passito (or Aleatico Passito dell'Elba) *    
Montecucco Sangiovese *        
Morellino di Scansano *
Suvereto *        
Val di Cornia Rosso (or Rosso della Val di Cornia) *      
Vernaccia di San Gimignano     
Vino Nobile di Montalcino         

Umbria (2)       
Sagrantino di Montefalco (or Montefalco Sagrantino)     
Torgiano Rosso Riserva           

Abruzzo (1)     
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane       

Marche (5)       
Offida (Rosso and Bianco) *     
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva * 
Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva *
Vernaccia di Serrapetrona         

Lazio (3)          
Cannellino di Frascati *
Cesanese del Piglio *
Frascati Superiore *      

Campania (4)   
Aglianico del Taburno *
Fiano di Avellino          
Greco di Tufo   

Apulia (4)        
Castel del Monte Bombino Nero *
Castel del Monte Nero di Troia Riserva *
Castel del Monte Rosso Riserva *
Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale *

Basilicata (1)   
Aglianico del Vulture Superiore *

Sicilia (1)         
Cerasuolo di Vittoria     

Sardegna (1)    
Vermentino di Gallura


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