Wine labels, for most people, are a pain in the arse to look at. There’s so much information on them but none of it seems to mean anything to the majority of us. Terms like DOCG, DOC, or IGT, and that’s just in Italy! It’s just a long list of letters and numbers and doesn’t seem to be telling us anything.
DOCG and DOC are the Italian equivalent of AOCs in France, or DOCa in Spain. Don’t worry about what words they stand for, just know that it is something that’s developed to protect a certain wine from copycats. Something like Barolo, made up in Piemonte, on specific soils, from the Nebbiolo grape, in the set climate and region is Barolo DOCG. By law it ticks all the production boxes. If it’s Barolo DOCG then it’s a stamp of quality. This is Barolo and you know where it’s from!
All those DOCs and DOCGs and AOCs and the rest of it were brought in to protect specific and typical and historical wines and blends from across Europe. From Champagne to Chablis, from Gavi di Gavi to Graves. It’s about the old school protecting them and theirs. That wine will be exactly what you expect and no other bugger can mess around with it and use the name. That sounds fair.
But what about other wine areas? The new and the experimental areas of Europe, playing around with different grapes on different soils, and trying new winemaking techniques. Because of the strict rules of the old school levels, all these new wines fell outside the bounds and couldn’t use any terms of quality. They became effectively just “table wines”. Doesn’t sound all that impressive does it?
So they came up with this term called PGI or Protected Geographical Indication. It meant that producers in that area could have a play at new things, but were subject to quality checks in the way they were growing and harvesting and vinifying. IGT, the Italian translation, therefore sits with the name of a region. IGT Sicilia or IGT Puglia, for example. You can try new things in that region, but it has to hit a minimum quality level.
So don’t worry about what the words are, just know it’s there to make sure this wine has got some game about it!