The confusing G spot of Italian wine

At our Sydney tasting last week, I would have loved a euro for every question on the Italian wine classification system. The short response – “it’s mostly bullshit” failed to convince a few, so the long version was “don’t worry about them, learn some grape varieties and regions you like best, and buy on the quality and reputation of the producer”. Simple, and a good rule to follow when buying any wine.

Part of the confusion lies in thinking that Italian wine laws are there to help the consumer. Established in the 1960’s, Denominazione d’Origine Controllata (DOC) helped Italy improve the quality of its wines. You could perhaps argue that they were, at one time, somewhat helpful to the consumer in identifying quality, but progressively the laws are there more and more to protect the growers and regions.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about DOC and the reason for the addition of the G (Guarantita). “The need for a DOCG identification arose when the DOC denomination was, in the view of many Italian food industries, given too liberally to different products. A new, more restrictive identification was then created, as similar as possible to the previous one so that buyers could still recognize it, but qualitatively different.”

In a race to the bottom, the Italians are busy rushing through the paperwork to bestow the DOCG title on just about anything made from grapes before the EU’s new legislation comes into effect. What these new EU regulations of PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) will do/improve/change we are yet to know and, so are the growers.

But, if DOCG was introduced because DOC’s were given too liberally, it must surely be time for DOCGG! How else can we separate the best of the best – Barbaresco, Barolo, Brunello – with the newly crowned Colli di Conegliano or Friularo di Bagnoli? Over at Alfonso Cevola’s blog, he has been diligently compiling an up-to-date list of the DOCG’s because an official record doesn’t exist – click here to see all 69 DOCG’s. Like I said, if you like it buy it, and ignore the regulations. They’ll only confuse you, and me.