Italian Wine Classifications: IGT, DOC and DOCG
Italian Wine Classification
All Italian wines are assigned to one of four government-regulated classifications. No rules or quality standards apply to the Vino da Tavola (table wine) category other than requiring that the grapes be grown in Italy. Ruffino makes no wine in this least-regulated category.
The other three categories become increasingly strict in their regulation, with IGT being the most lenient to give winemakers flexibility, and DOCG being the most controlled.
IGT – Typical geographical place
The IGT classification includes wines that are typical to a large geographic area (for example, Tuscany) by way of colour, grape varieties and/or wine type. Growers must apply for IGT status and wine labels must declare a specific region. IGT wines are subject to some production limitations, but no taste or quality tests are required.
DOC – Controlled (or protected) place of origin
The DOC classification includes wines from specified grape varieties in officially designated and registered geographic areas. Producers in each region determine the regulations, which cover every phase of grape-growing and winemaking including origin of the fruit, grape varieties, production methods, wine colour, aromas and flavours. The government oversees the regulations, but no taste or quality tests are required.
DOCG – Controlled and guaranteed place of origin
The DOCG classification is the most stringent. It requires producers to control and guarantee everything that is claimed on the wine label. Sample lots must be approved by a tasting panel of experts. DOCG wines are also subject to legal analysis at any time.
What is a Super Tuscan?
The term Super Tuscan applies to a group of Tuscan wines which are produced using grape varieties not unique or indigenous to Tuscany. Most often these wines are a blend of Tuscan varietals like Sangiovese with French grape types such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Cabernet Franc. Often, Super Tuscans use non-traditional winemaking techniques including aging the wine in small oak barrels. Most Super Tuscans are red, but there are some white Super Tuscans as well.
Because these wines do not conform to Italy's traditional and rigid wine laws, they are not an officially recognized classification.