There are currently 36 DOCGs and 316 DOC wines in Italy.
The Italian DOCG wines are distributed in 13 different regions as follows:
1. Piedmont: Barolo, Barbaresco, Brachetto d’Aqui, Asti, Ghemme, Roero, Dolcetto di Doglianico, Gattinara, Gavi
2. Lombardia: Franciacorta, Sforzato della Valtellina, Valtellina Superiore, Oltrepo’ Metodo Classico
3. Veneto: Recioto di Soave, Soave Superiore, Bardolino Superiore
4. Friuli Venezia Giulia: Ramandolo, Picolit
5. Emilia Romagna: Albana di Romagna
6. Tuscany: Brunello, Chianti Classico, Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Morellino Scansano, Carmignano
7. Campania: Fiano, Taurasi, Greco
8. Abruzzo: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
9. Umbria: Sagrantino di Montefalco, Torgiano Rosso Riserva
10. Marche: Rosso Conero Riserva, Vernaccia di Serra Petrone
11. Sicily: Cerasuolo di Vittoria
12. Sardegna: Vermentino di Gallura
Asti, in Piedmont, is famous for its sweet “spumante”, or sparkling wine. It was invented by Signore Martinotti, an oenologist who worked for the Asti Institute for Experimental Oenology Research. In fact, even today the technique used to make this kind of spumante is referred to as the Martinotti method, even though the French have taken to calling it the â€œCharmatâ€ method
One might say Barolo was born out of political strategy. The Count of Cavour Camillo Benso, one of the main contributors to the founding of the Italian state, developed this famous wine. The Piedmontese politician understood that an excellent wine was instrumental in helping along meetings with kings and European princes, so he had his own castle Grinzane produce Barolo. Where Garibaldi wasnÃ¯Â¿Â½t able to succeed with his armies, Cavour and his Barolo triumphed in convincing European rulers to support the founding of the Italian kingdom.
Barbaresco is a well-structured wine with excellent aging potential. Though it is less famous than its â€œcousinâ€ Barolo, it is still precious to wine lovers. It takes its name from a small town in Piemonte, among the Langhe hills. It is produced from the Nebbiolo grape, also used for Barolo.
The wine of Acqui dates back to ancient times: Roman writers described it as a delicacy highly-prized by the aristocracy. In todayâ€™s Piedmont Brachetto is still a great success, suitable for any occasion. In their attempts to win Cleopatra, legend has it that Julius Caesar and Mark Antony gave her Brachetto dâ€™Acqui.
Gattinara is among the oldest wines of Piedmont, produced in the area around Gattinara (once called Catula Ara, after its Roman consul) since Roman times. This wine is not only ancient, it has traveled to the grandest courts of the world. The great diplomat the Marquis of Gattinara never failed to bring a bottle with him when he went to visit the Kings and Queens of Europe
Gavi is a white wine from Piedmont, the land of well-structured and powerful reds. In fact, strange but true, it is even quite often a sparkling wine. Gavi is produced from Cortese grapes, in the Alessandria province of south-west Piedmont.
Ghemme, like all the great wines, has ancient origins. In Roman times it was already being produced, though it seems the winemakers where more interested in quantity than quality. There was so much being produced in Anagnum, later called Ghemme, that the city chose for its gonfalone (banner) a symbol composed of a bunch of grapes and sprigs of wheat. The wine was sold in nearby markets, and largely in Milan.
In the following centuries, winemakers paid increasingly more attention to quality. And today Ghemme, made from the Nebbiolo, Vespolina and Uva Rara grapes, is among the best Piedmontese wines.
Roero is a beautiful hilly area in the Cuneo province of Piedmont. Certainly among these picturesque hills, castles and woods there were sure to be some vineyards. This red wine, made from the Nebbiolo grape, is one of several excellent Piedmontese DOCGs, even if it may be less prized than the famous Barolo and Barbaresco.
Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore
In Dogliani, Piedmont, the highly-esteemed Dolcetto is produced from the grape of the same name. The word means â€œlittle sweet one,â€ but in fact Dolcetto isnâ€™t sweet at allâ€”itâ€™s a dry, red wine. This grapeâ€™s cultivation here dates back to the 1500s. Dolcetto is sincere, immediate, and meant to be drunk young. It is of moderate acidity, and has a jovial, fresh and fragrant personality.
According to legend, after Charlemagne conquered Brescia in 774, he set up camp in Rodengo Saiano. When it was time to celebrate the festival of San Dionigi, for which he had promised to be in Paris, Charlemagne settled the issue by calling the area around his camp Ã¯Â¿Â½small FranceÃ¯Â¿Â½ and ordered that the entire region be called so: thus Ã¯Â¿Â½FranciacortaÃ¯Â¿Â½. Today the area is known for a chic sparkling white wine of the same name, bottled using the classic method.
Sforzato della Valtellina
This red wine is produced in the high mountains of Valtellina, in the province of Sondrio. It is called â€œsforzatoâ€ or â€œforcedâ€ because Nebbiolo grapes are left to dry in order to increase the concentration of sugar. Therefore, they are â€œforcedâ€ or â€œpushedâ€ to their very best.
Valtellina Superiore is made from Nebbiolo grapes in Valtellina, a town in the Sondrio province. It is called â€œsuperioreâ€ because it is of better quality than its cousin â€œValtellina,â€ a wine that has only reached DOC status.
The word â€œreciotoâ€ comes from the dialect of Verona, deriving from â€œreciaâ€, or â€œearâ€. The â€œreciaâ€ is the nickname given to the top part of a bunch of Garganega grapes. It happens to look just like an ear, is better nourished and receives more sun exposure. The precious â€œReciotoâ€ wine made from these grapes is sweet and dark in color. It was the first wine in the Veneto region to be awarded DOCG status.
The name â€œsoaveâ€ makes us think of something suave, sweet, delicate, full of grace . . . In fact â€œSoaveâ€ is all of these, even if it really named after the town in which it is produced. It is a white wine made from Garganega grapes, and was publicly praised on many occasions by the great poet Gabriele dâ€™Annunzio.
Bardolino, one of ItalyÃ¯Â¿Â½s most esteemed wines, is produced in the Veneto, most typically in the Verona area. It is a powerful and well-structured red that ages very well, and is made from the Corvina nera grape.
Ramondolo is a sweet wine produced in the Udine province of Friuli Venezia Giulia, from the white grape Verduzzo. The wine owes its name to a small village, Ramondolo, demonstrating a strong tie to the land where it is made
They say it is a wine â€œda meditazioneâ€: perfect for sipping and meditating upon. Picolit is a sweet wine produced in the province of Udine from Picolit grapes. The grapes of this varietal-variety are indeed small, or â€œpiccoloâ€ in Italian, thus leading to the name â€œPicolit.â€ It was one of the Friulian wines known to grace the palates of popes, princes and kings. It is certainly an ancient variety, in fact many authors believe it was cultivated in Roman times.
Albana di Romagna
This wine from Romagna made from the Albana grape variety is best known for its sweet version, but there is also a lesser known dry style. It is said that Galla Placidia, the daughter of Emperor Teodosio, tasted it for the first time in a small town in Romagna. The wine was served to her in a shabby terracotta jug, but as soon as she drank it she exclaimed â€œThis should not be served in such a humble jug, but should be drunk from a golden cup, to pay homage to its sweetness!â€ And from that point on, Albana was served at the Ravenna court in precious golden cups. The town where the princess tasted it for the first time was dubbed â€œBertinoro,â€ or â€œDrink it in gold,â€ and is still called so today.
Brunello di Montalcino
Brunello is the most famous of Italian wines, together with Barolo. It is produced in the heart of the Val dâ€™Orcia, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has a very recent and interesting history.
At the end of Italyâ€™s war of independence when Italy was unified by Cavour and Garibaldi, the young soldier Ferruccio Biondi Santi returned to his birth home in Montalcino. He found the vineyards in terrible condition, abandoned and sick, and began work on rescuing them. He focused only on one variety, Sangiovese Grosso, also called â€œBrunelloâ€.
After years of hard work, he created the very first Brunello di Montalcino, and every since his vineyardâ€™s wine has been a great success. The surrounding winemakers imitated this style, and in their own right helped create one of the most famous wine regions in the world.
Records of Chianti wine date back to the 14th century, with the “recipe”, the basis of which is still used to this day, dating back to the middle of the 1800s, referring to the use of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia grapes. It was invented by Baron Bettino Ricasoli, whose family were descendants of the Firidolfi family who owned Chianti during the VIII century.
Following a ministerial decree in 1932, geographical boundaries were drawn to differentiate between the zones of Chianti and that of Chianti Classico, which had been considered as one area from the 18th century under the command of Cosimo III de Medici.
Chianti Classico is the heart of the region that lies between Florence and Siena and you can recognise the wines coming from here by the symbol of the black rooster that adorns every bottle. This symbol represents the Consortium of Chianti Classico, which is an independent group set up to ensure the continuing high standard of this wine.
There is a legend that explains the reason for the black rooster, which goes back to the continuing battles between Florence and Siena over the ownership of the land of Tuscany. It was decided a peaceful solution had to be found, whereby a cavalry man from Siena and a cavalry man from Florence should set off across the countryside at the sound of the first rooster. Whoever covered the most land would get to rule over Chianti Classico.
However, the Florentines didn’t feed their rooster the night before, which resulted in it waking with hunger early the next morning, allowing the Florentine cavalry man to set off before his rival and consequently lay claim to this precious land!
Prior to the 1960s, the reputation of Chianti was that of mass wine being produced in wicker flasks. When farmers left the countryside, astute business men took the opportunity to move back to the countryside and focus on producing more high-quality wines that now receive international acclaim.
This Tuscan red wine, produced around the town of Carmignano in the Prato province, is a real first. It was the very first wine whose production was governed by rules. In fact, its rules of production date back to the 700â€™s, when doctors issued an edict stating how and where it could be produced. Its code therefore predates the DOCG system by centuries.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Vernaccia is the only DOCG white wine in Tuscany. It is native to San Gimignano, the city of 100 towers. Vernaccia comes from â€œvernaculum,â€ meaning something that is typical to a certain place, like the â€œvernacular,â€ or language typical to a city or region. Most importantly, Vernaccia was the very first wine in Italy to be awarded DOC status.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
An Etruscan city rich with vines, Montepulciano is the birthplace of one of Tuscanyâ€™s most famous wines. It is a red wine made from Sangiovese grapes, which in Montepulciano are called Prugnolo Gentile because of their dark prune color, elegance and gentle and kind aromas.
Vermentino di Gallura
Vermentino is probably the most prized grape variety of Sardegna, and Gallura is one of this great Mediterranean islandâ€™s most beautiful and notable regions. Their unique union produces a white wine with fresh and inviting aromas. It is perfect for summer nights and pairs perfectly with fish.
Sagrantino di Montefalco
Sagrantino is a full-bodied red wine from Umbria, produced only from Sagrantino grapes. The most notable and prized is the Sagrantino produced in the Montefalco area, which was given a DOCG appellation in 1992. The winemaking tradition in this region dates back to the Middle Ages, thanks to Benedictine monks who planted Sagrantino vines, one of the oldest Umbrian varieties. The â€œdryâ€ version of Sagrantino has prevailed, even it was originally made as a â€œpassito.â€ In fact, at one time Sagrantino was produced almost exclusively from grapes dried on wooden trellises to obtain a rare, sweet red wine.