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History & Definitions

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Pyramid of Italian wine appellationsPassage of the Wine Law in l963 initiated modernization and subsequent growth of Italian wine industry. Highly comprehensive laws of the Denomination of Origin are, in part, based on a principles respected by French Appellations Contrôlées. They define Italy's winemaking traditions and regulate every phase of wine production. All the aspects of viticulture are strictly described including including types of vines, grapes and their processing. The same about vinification processes, aging and bottling. More recently, in response to pressure from producers, the laws have been amended to encourage experimentation with non-traditional grape varieties and winemaking techniques.
In the 1980's there were many problems with low quality wines and name manipulation, creating the need for a system that could guarantee higher quality standards. As a result in 1992, entire wine law system was overhauled and became compliant with equivalent EU law. In order to prevent later manipulation, DOCG wine bottles are sealed with a numbered governmental seal across the cap or cork.
There are now four different classifications (or appellation types), which are strictly overseen by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry:

DOCG

Or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) is the most strict category of appellations. It embraces all DOC rules and further requires a producer to control and guarantee everything claimed on the wine's label: zone of origin, net contents, name of grower and bottler, place of bottling and product's alcohol strength. Governmental seal of approval is affixed to the bottle, and the wine is subject to analysis by governmental bodies at any time.
The are 35 DOCGs in Italy today. Some famous DOCG of Truscany are: Brunello di Montalcino (the first in Italy to be awarded this appellation), Chianti, Chianti Classico, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This great company has been lately joined by Morellino di Scansano starting with 2007 vintage.

DOC

Or Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Denomination of Controlled Origin). Wines bearing this appellation are registered by the government. Their labels must state their zone of origin and the wines are required to meet certain production standards. Only approved methods of planting, cultivating and fertilizing can be applied. Maximum yields are controlled, as are aging and bottling requirements, also alcohol content. The products and their specifications are subject to government review at any time. There are currently 315 DOCs in Italy (35 of them in Tuscany and 20 on Tuscan coast).

IGT

Or Indicazione Geografica Tipica (Typical Geographic Indication). A type of wine appellation, instituted in 1992, which has logically filled the vacuum between Vino da Tavola and DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin). The purpose of government was to upgrade a major portion (about 40 percent) of Italy's table wine production by placing these products on a par with the French Vin du Pays or German Landwein. The label must declare wine’s specific region and may cite varietal type and vintage. Producers are required to apply for IGT status just as they do for a DOC or DOCG appellation. Today there are 118 IGTs in Italy.

Vino da Tavola

The Italian term Vino da tavola means, literally, table wine. In reality, it refers to wines without appellations or ordinary wines. This category existed for decades for simple table wines that cannot carry neither a varietal name nor a vintage date.
In fact, there is also a controversy which has appeared together with birth of some exceptional wines like Super Tuscans. In the period immediately following the introduction of the DOC system, many producers throughout Italy began to engage in various ambitious experiments. They developed wines that, in many cases, attracted praise and recognition of consumers throughout the world. But the varieties of grapes they used and/or the techniques of vinification or maturation they adopted were not authorized within regulations of DOC production. As a result, many of Italy's most exciting wines (at least in the opinion of critics and connoisseurs worldwide) were relegated to Vino da tavola status

   
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