This page provides a brief overview of the basics of the Italian appellation system as well as a very powerful resource which identifies all of Italy’s DOCG appellations broken down by region providing for each of them a snapshot of its main regulations.
Feel free to explore the appellations in the various regions of Italy and their main rules!
The Italian Appellation System In a Nutshell
DOCG appellations are at the peak of the pyramid of the Italian appellation system and are those with the strictest regulations. “DOCG” is an acronym that stands for “Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita” (“Denomination of Origin Verified and Guaranteed”).
The second step in the Italian appellation system is DOC appellations (where “DOC” stands for “Denominazione di Origine Controllata“, meaning “Denomination of Origin Verified”), while the third and lowest step at the basis of the Italian appellation pyramid is IGT appellations (where “IGT” stands for “Indicazione Geografica Tipica“, meaning “Typical Geographical Indication”).
It is useful to note that:
- The Italian DOCG and DOC appellations are two local subdivisions of the general EU-wide PDO or “Protected Designation of Origin” scheme, which covers agricultural products produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognized know-how; and
- The Italian IGT appellation is the local name given to the EU-wide PGI or “Protected Geographical Indication” scheme, which covers agricultural products closely linked to a certain geographical area, in which at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation must take place.
Generally speaking, DOCG appellations are meant to highlight the pinnacle of Italian quality for wines made from specific grape varieties in specific, relatively small territories based on very strict regulations governing authorized grapes and territories, viticultural practices, oenological practices, minimum aging requirements, labeling and bottling of the wine. DOC appellations tend to have looser regulations and may cover larger territories, while IGT appellations have the loosest rules and generally cover vast territories and allow the use of several different grape varieties.
From a practical standpoint, the above does not mean that all good Italian wines can only be found in DOCG appellations though. Most Supertuscans, for instance, are either IGT wines (like Tignanello) or DOC wines (like Sassicaia) because certain innovative winemakers decided to experiment with grape varieties that were not allowed by existing DOC or DOCG rues and therefore created outstanding wines by exploiting the flexibility afforded by the looser rules of IGT appellations.
As is almost invariably true in life, knowledge is king: while focusing on DOCG or DOC wines may be a good place to start exploring the world of quality Italian wines, you need to know your producers and winemakers in order not to miss out on fabulous IGT wines. Follow us on Flora’s Table to learn more! 🙂
Italian DOCG Appellations By Region
Below is a list of Italy’s regions, organized from north to south. Apart from those regions that do not have any DOCG appellation (identified as such in paren), clicking on any other region will open a page detailing all of such region’s DOCG appellations and providing an overview of their main rules and regulations.
As at December 31, 2014, Italy counted 74 DOCG appellations and 5 regions out of 20 (25%) with no DOCG appellations. The three regions with the most DOCG appellations are Piemonte (16), Veneto (14) and Toscana (11).
The information provided on this page is updated as at December 31, 2014.
1. Valle d’Aosta (No DOCG Appellations)
2. Piemonte (16)
3. Lombardia (5)
4. Trentino Alto Adige (No DOCG Appellations)
5. Veneto (14)
6. Friuli Venezia Giulia (4)
7. Liguria (No DOCG Appellations)
8. Emilia Romagna (2)
9. Toscana (11)
10. Marche (5)
11. Umbria (2)
12. Lazio (3)
13. Abruzzo (1)
14. Molise (No DOCG Appellations)
15. Campania (4)
16. Puglia (4)
17. Basilicata (1)
18. Calabria (No DOCG Appellations)
19. Sardegna (1)
20. Sicilia (1)