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Know Your DOP From Your DOC and IGT
Thursday, 14 April 2016 00:50

The system of quality designations applied to Italian food and wine products aims to protect both the consumer and the producer. A product classified DOP, or a wine with a DOC seal, is a guarantee of a minimum standard of authenticity, provenance and quality. 
Understanding what the different classifications mean is essential for anyone who is sourcing, using or selling Italian food and wine. 






Denominazione di Origine Protetta

DOP distinguishes products for which a specific geographical area is fundamental to its quality and production. Every phase, from raw materials to final product, must occur within the specific geographic area. Consideration is given to the areas natural characteristics such as climate, topography and environment, but also includes the human factors such as local traditions and customs, local skills and techniques
A Disciplinare di Produzione (Product Specification), lists the rules, procedures and techniques which must be followed for a product to earn DOP status. Each country in the EU has a designated office which enforces these procedures. In Italy this role is played by the Ministry of Agriculture.


Prosciutto Crudo San Daniele DOP

San Daniele Prosciutto has a one of the strictest list of rules. The only ingredients allowed are sea salt and pig legs sourced from 10 specific regions. Every step of the production of San Daniele Prosciutto must take place within the border of Commune di San Daniele in the Udine Province.


Parmigiano Reggiano DOP
This is one of the most internationally recognized Italian DOP products. Production areas for Parmigiano Reggiano is limited to the area around Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna on the left bank of Reno River (Emilia Romagna) and Mantova on the south side of Po River (Lombardia).



Indicazione Geografica Protetta

Like DOP, the IGP designation also relates to typical products from a specific geographic region, however, the rules are less strict. Although the product must be produced with the declared IGP region, they do allow some ingredients can be sourced from outside. For example Sinatti Panforte di Siena IGP which was given IGP status in 2013, can only be produced in Siena, but ingredients can be sourced within the EU. 


Riso Vialone Nano Veronese IGP
The Vialone Nano species of rice which is native to the Verona area is cultivated in areas irrigated with natural spring water. The production area is limited to the Bassa Veronese, the lowlands south of Verona in Veneto. It is the only rice to be granted IGP status.


Sale Marino di Trapani IGP

This is one of the youngest IGPs in Italy. Only recently added to the list in 2011. Production area is limited to Trapani, Paceco and Marsala. This product is also classified as a P.A.T. (See below).



Specialita Tradizionale Garantita

The STG classification is only applicable to food and has been introduced to protect traditional methods or techniques of production used in a specific area of Italy. It differs from DOP or IGP, as it only refers to the way products are made, but the production itself doesn't necessarily have to take place in that specific area.



The only two Italian products classified as STG so far are Pizza Napoletana and Mozzarella cheese, but this list is likely to grow dramatically in the following years.



Prodotto Agroalimentare Tradizionale

This designation was introduced by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Italian Regional Governments to classify all those products made according to traditional methods, techniques and procedures which have been consistently used within the designated area for at least 25 years. 
This applies to products such as the Parrozzo saffron cake from Pescara, Abruzzo, the Chocolate of Modica made by Bonajuto or the famous Mirto liqueur from Sardinia.





Denominazione di Origine Controllata

The DOC classification is used for Italian wines that are  produced in specific, well-defined regions according to precise rules laid out in the "Disciplinare di Produzione”. The aim is to preserve the traditional wine-making of the region and dictate grape varieties, cultivation, harvesting, wine making methods and ageing. Before being released for sale, DOC wines must undergo an organoleptic analysis to certify that the key characteristics of colour, aroma and taste comply with the established standards.
One of the reasons the names of Italian wines can be confusing is that DOC wines must be identified by their DOC denomination. Sometimes these relate to the geographical location e.g. Etna DOC, and sometimes they also include the grape variety e.g. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Wineries can add the name of the vineyard on the label, but cannot name the wine after a grape type if that name isn't already part of the official DOC denomination.

Prosecco Treviso DOC by Furlan
Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC by Tenuta Pederzana
Salice Salentino DOC by Kala



Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita

DOCG is the highest level of classification for Italian wines. It can be considered as a DOC within a DOC. A very specific area where the soil, microclimate, historic tradition and local expertise come together to produce the best expression of a DOC wine. A clear example of the difference between DOC and DOCG can be found with Prosecco. While Prosecco DOC can be produced within a wide area of Veneto and Friuli, Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, can only be produced in an extremely limited area between Conegliano, Valdobbiadene and the right bank of Piave river.
Like the French system of Cru wines, DOCG denominations can also be categorized by “subzones” of towns and villages, or “microzones” single vineyards. These wines represent the highest quality range for that specific DOCG. 
There are 74 DOCG regions across Italy with the largest number situated in Piedmont, Tuscany, Veneto. 

Barbaresco DOCG by Produttori Del BarbarescoThis is an example of a wine that is produced from nebbiolo harvested in a specific, very small area within the DOCG. In the best years each of the nine vineyards in the Produttori del Barbareca cooperative will produce a separate vintage.
Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vallocchio by Fanti
Produced in Tuscany, exclusively in the Montalcino area (Siena Province). Only Sangiovese can be used. This wine has one of the strictest "disciplinare".  
Aglianico del Taburno DOCG by Fattoria La Rivolta
Production limited to a few areas in the Benevento Province in Campania. 
Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG by Vagnoni
Italy's first declared DOC wine was upgraded to DOCG status in 1993.



Identificazione Geografica Tipica

If DOCG is the most prestigious and exclusive classification, followed by DOC, then IGT is the third level down and is usually declared over larger regions of wine production.  A minimum 85% of the grapes in an IGT wine need to be sourced from the declared  area, however the product specifications are less strict.
However, an IGT classification in no way implies a lesser quality than a DOC or DOCG wine. Some of the most celebrated Italian wines of recent years have held an IGT appellation.
Examples from the Enoteca Sileno portfolio include: San Felice Toscana Rosso IGT "Vigorello", Virgona Salina Bianco IGTDi Lenardo Pinot Grigio IGT .



Last Updated on Thursday, 14 April 2016 01:08