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Italian Wine Labels Explained at Via Carota
Via Carota is a trattoria located at 51 Grove Street in the West Village. Via Carota is all about honoring its Italian roots and this is clearly represented in the ambience, the food, the decor, and, of course, the wine. If you are dining at Via Carota, listen to the CorkRules’ podcast on the wine list to pick up a few suggestions from a certified sommelier.
In an earlier article, we identified the Italian wine regions, but in this article, we’re going to focus on Italian wine labels to help you understand more about the bottle you are ordering.
A few key terms you should understand about Italian wine labels are the official designations: DOCG, DOC, and IGT. Just like the French counterpart, appellations, the designations identify the rules of wine cultivation and production that are in place for the locations that receive the designations.
So, let’s take a look at what they mean and how that affects the wine you buy.
DOCG is the abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita ((Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin). This is the top classification and the most strict. It governs all aspects of production, including which varieties can be grown, where they can be grown, and how the wines are aged. Quite simply, the stricter the rules the higher the quality of wine. There are only 74 DOCGs in Italy, with the majority of them located in Piedmont, Veneto, and Tuscany. This is why these regions are considered to be the best wine-producing regions.
DOC is the abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Denomination of Controlled Region) The rules of this designation govern production and style, the less stringent rules allow more wine producers to jump achieve certification. Currently, there are 334 DOCs in Italy.
And finally, the least regulated classification is IGT, an abbreviation for Indicazione Geografica Tipica (Typical Geographical Indication) this was first introduced in 1992, and is basically a classification that only refers to location but allows wine producers to use grapes and production styles that are not allowed under DOC and DOCG regulations. Despite the ease of production regulations, currently, there are only 118 IGTs in Italy. Most wine producers want to focus on quality and earn recognition for producing quality wine.
In addition to the official classifications, there are a few other terms you should become familiar with:
Classico: This refers to a zone within a region that is considered the original area of production.
Azienda Agricola: This indicates the farm or estate that produces the grapes and produces wine.
Annata or Vendemmia: This refers to a specific harvest or vintage and is hugely informative if you understand the particular ‘good’ or ‘bad’ years in grape cultivation, most specifically, the influence of the weather.
Produttore: Is the producer - a producer could be anyone who makes the wine. So, it’s generally best to choose a producer that is also the estate and vineyard.
Tenuta: Refers to the Estate
Vigneto: Quite simple, the vineyard
So, now that you can read the label, all that remains is to taste the wine and, the most difficult part, remember which wines you love, because in this industry, regardless of locations, producers, and grape, the most important point is to drink the wine you love.
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