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Wine law

Most people perceive Italy as a charming chaos, where order and systematics are names of cities in Russia, where laws and rules are just for show for the EU’s sake, and where people take pride in breaking the rules. In this context, most people probably ask themselves whether (1) Italy has a wine law, and if (2) that is the case in the boot-shaped country, who has control of it?

The quick answer to both questions is a clear yes

The Law no. 193 introduced, in 1963, more order in a much more systematic way than in any other major wine-producing countries. The laws are exemplary, clear and detailed.

If you want to get acquainted with the Italian wine laws, the challenge is not the law itself, but rather the Italian mentality. The desire to produce exciting wines is great, but as mentioned, Italians are not particularly inclined to be governed by strict rules and guidelines, and this national character has put pressure on the boundary between the wine zone of the individual zone.

For this reason, there have been a myriad of new zones and sub-zones that actually undermined the classification system. This was alright for the curious consumer but a bit confusing for anyone who wants to get familiar with the classification system.

Originally, DOC and DOCG were thought of as a hierarchical system with the best wines at the top of the pyramid and the least interesting at the bottom, but this is by no means the case today. This is not to be interpreted in a negative way, but it is, again, a bit confusing for beginners.

Therefore, today there are more than 350 denominations (zones and subzones), and the aforementioned great desire to try new roads has meant that many exciting VDT wines have been raised to IGT and IGT wines and have been further raised to DOC and DOCG . To implement these changes, current rules required adjustments or brand new wine sub-categories have been created.

It should be noted that if a wine is raised from DOC to DOCG, it is only due the association of a particular wine-growing producer who has received an application from the National Wine Committee, entitled "Comitato Nazionale per la Tutela e la Valorizzazione delle Denominazioni di Origine e delle Indicazioni Geographiche Tipiche dei Vini ".

Thus, the ranking in a "higher" category depends on whether producers can agree on future tighter requirements for a particular wine type, and thus is not a promotion or premium of the wine.

In other words, DOC or DOCG is not the warranty stamp that was originally intended, but fortunately, this does bear such great significance for us as consumers.

The quality guarantee lies solely in the individual producer's quality consciousness and wish to care for its good reputation. Therefore, there can be significant differences of quality within individual wine types, for example, within the type of Barolo DOCG or Valpolicella della Amarone DOC. Regardless of the high classification there are also bad wines in both categories.

Therefore, a DOC wine can be better than a DOCG, or an IGT can be better than a DOCG. Everything depends on the interaction between the producer's abilities like winemaking, the location of the vineyard, the soil, the climate, etc. And not least the grapes.

And here we are charmed - this wonderful anarchy has created diverse, amazing and wildly exciting wines.

Therefore, happy hunting in the marvellous, never-ending world of Italian wine.

Did you know?

Italy extends over 10 latitudes – from continental climate to subtropical climate?