DOC vs DOCG vs IGT

The Italian Wine Classifications

Of the most prime and prestigious climates and regions in the world, Italy is one of the top locations for producing beautiful wine. The vines thrive in the sunny but temperate weather, causing the bottles to be especially pricey. The classification system for the wines produced in Italy are especially stringent: deemed the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita is a labeling certification method Italian law classifying the quality of a specific line of wines. This system is used to improve and standardize the caliber of every wine created in Italy and guarantee that certain bottles were in fact produced in the region they denote.

The Italian Wine Appellation System

There are three designations in the Italian classification:

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG):

Also known as "Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin,” DOCG is the first and highest of quality a wine can be bestowed. DOCG wines must pass an evaluation, analysis, and tasting by a government-licensed committee before they can be bottled. These bottles adhere to the strictest rules and regulations, following a trend of consistent quality. There are only 74 wines on this day that have earned this prestigious status.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC):

The regulations of Denominazione di Origine Controllata are less stringent than that of DOCG, but are still very much enforced. In France, the term is Appellation d'origine contrôlée meaning "Controlled Designation of Origin.” The DOC rules differ from region to region but each location has a precise formula for continuing their traditions. For each DOC, the winery can state the vineyard that its grapes derive from but not the type of grape. In the entirety of Italy, there are 329 DOC wines.

Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT):

Indicazione Geografica Tipica directly translates to “Geographical Indication.” These wines are produced in a specific area. IGT regulations are the loosest of the three appellations, but there are still certain rules forbidding the bottle display cannot include the year it was created and that certain wines must taste a certain way, such as Moscato has to be sweet. Albeit the rules being the least strict, many of Italy’s finest and oldest Tuscan wines are designated of IGT origin. It is not uncommon to find an extremely expensive IGT bottle in the possession of a lauded sommelier.

Classifications by Region

Determining a wine’s classification can come easily to those who are aware of the common regions and types of wine that each classification correlates with.

Veneto

18% of DOC wines are Venetian. The Valpolicella region within Veneto produces great red blends made with Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara and is also famous for creating the Amarone della Valpolicella. The area also produces many Merlot-based IGT wines.

Tuscany

17% of DOC wines are from Tuscany, not to mention all of the IGT Super Tuscan wines. The Sanviogese grape thrives in the region of Chianti more than any other place in the world, creating some of the most prized wines in Italy. DOCG wines are no stranger here.

Piedmont

11% of DOC wines originate from Piedmont. By far the most famous wine from this region is Moscato d’Asti. The most common grape in Piedmont is the Nebbiolo, an extremely pale but tannin-packed vine.

Our Selection of Italian Wines

  • IGT: Abbazia Moscato Vino Dolce I.G.T. - This non-vintage Moscato is a fun and spritzy white wine from Northern Italy's Lombardia province, where sun-soaked days and cool nights produce highly flavorful wines. This sweet and beautifully floral wine is ideal as an aperitif or with a delectable dessert.
  • DOCG: Abbazia Asti Spumante D.O.C.G. - Some sparkling wines are perfect as an aperitif and some are perfect with dessert. Abbazia Sparkling Asti happens to be both. This light and distinctive non-vintage Italian wine was produced in Piedmont, the same region that produces coveted truffles, cheeses and meats. This moscato-based sparkling wine carries a D.O.C.G. rating, the highest level of wine certification from the Italian National Government, ensuring that this wine is of the utmost quality. Abbazia Sparkling Asti's delicate floral, and fruity nature makes it an excellent pairing with sponge cake, soufflés, fruit salads, strudels, or a treat of your choice.
  • DOC: 2017 Cantus Montepulciano d'Abruzzo D.O.C.- Montepulciano is a classic Italian wine—one of the most popular Italian grapes, with a beautiful ruby red color, and a robust feel that holds its own with meaty meals. 2017 Cantus Montepulciano d’Abruzzo D.O.C. is dry and harmonious, with aromas of tobacco and leather, and a Gold Medal-winning heritage. Sink into a glass like it’s your favorite armchair.
  • DOC: 2014 Montostoli 1926 Maremma Toscana D.O.C. - Located in the heart of Tuscany’s Chianti Classico region, Montostoli is a family-run farm that has produced well-loved, award-winning wines since 1926. The Montostoli 1926 line of wine celebrates this rich heritage with classic selections like 2014 Montostoli 1926 Maremma Toscana. This lively red offers aromas of blackberry and dried plum with rich undertones of candied fruit and dark chocolate, followed by nuances of vanilla and tobacco leaf. Italian wine is meant to go with hearty Italian food, so pair this Maremma Toscana with your favorite pasta dishes.
  • IGT: 2016 Cala De' Poeti Vermentino I.G.T. - Made from 100% Vermentino grapes that were nourished on the vine by Tuscan sea breezes, 2016 Cala de' Poeti Vermentino bursts with opulent flavor and a radiant freshness. This carefree Italian white has a Platinum Medal-winning heritage thanks to its complex notes of peaches, flowers, sage, and rosemary, and nice minerality. Serve it chilled with chicken salad.

Make sure to look out for Italian wines on your next visit to the marketplace! Even though DOCG is the highest ranked, every wine in this classification is worth a sip.