Classification of wines in Tuscany


The qualitative classification of Tuscan wines

There are, roughly speaking, four levels of quality in Italian wine:

  • Vino da tavola
  • Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT)
  • Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
  • Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin (DOCG)

With the new EU wine market regulation of 2009, the designation of origin for wine was standardized analogous to food law, so that there are now new descriptions, which do not override the old descriptions due to the grandfathering in Italy. The new descriptions are:

  • Vino, or "wine", formerly Vino da Tavola
  • Indicazione Geografica Protetta (IGP), formerly IGT
  • Denominazione d'Origine Protetta (DOP), formerly DOC and DOCG

If you want to delve deeper into the matter, we recommend that you first read the Commission Regulation (EC) No. 607/2009 of July 14, 2009 with implementing provisions for Council Regulation (EC) No. 479/2008 with regard to protected designations of origin and geographical indications, traditional terms as well as the labeling and presentation of certain wine products ”.
Furthermore, the Italian law "Legge 10 febbraio 1992, n. 164: Nuova disciplina delle denominazioni d'origine dei vini" regulates the allocation of IGT, DOC and DOCG.
If these works put you off, read on here. We are sticking to the terms IGT, DOC and DOCG, as they are still and mostly in use in Italy.

1. Vino da Tavola (VT)

tuscany vino da tavola

A Vino da Tavola or just "Vino" is nothing more than a simple table wine. VT is also not an official name. It is not subject to any special quality checks, especially with regard to origin and grape variety. Conversely, there is no test of “how good” the wine is. When visiting Italian friends who own a vineyard, a Vino da Tavola can have positive surprises in store.

2. Indicazione Geographica Tipica (IGT)

Indicazione Geografica Tipica is the first correct quality level, it is above the Vino da Tavola and corresponds to the German country wine. However, this does not have to mean that an IGT is not a particularly good wine per se.

tuscany igt casalgallo

An IGT is subject to quality control and must at least specify the growing area from which it comes and which grape varieties it consists of. As with table wines, there can be positive outliers here that are even of higher quality than DOC wines because, for example, they contain grape varieties that may not be used according to local DOC regulations. They are sometimes also called "Super Tuscans".

The IGT wines of Tuscany currently include (in alphabetical order):
Alta Valle della Greve, Colli della Toscana Centrale, Costa Toscana, Montecastelli, Toscano / Toscana, Val di Magra.

3. Denomination of Controlled Origin (DOC)

Denominazione di Origine Controllata is a "controlled designation of origin" for wine from Italy. The official description according to the EU regulation is:

Wines with designation of origin: the geographical name of a wine-growing region characterized by a particular production; the name is used to denote a quality product with a high level of awareness, which owes its properties to the geographical conditions and human influences. The law defines the special traditional term “DOC” for the Italian names in order to explain the aforementioned concept of the very high quality and traditional designation of origin.

Official Journal of the European Union No. 607/2009 (L 193 / S. 104)

In terms of quality, the DOC wines are above the IGT wines and below the DOCG wines. They are characterized by their level of awareness and the indication of their origin. DOC wines may only be produced in approved growing areas and with approved grape varieties (main variety in Tuscany: Sangiovese). Also, the permitted yield per hectare must not be exceeded in order not to reduce the qualitative value of the grapes. Wines with a DOC or DOCG seal may not be filled into bottles or containers with a capacity of more than five liters.

In Tuscany these are currently (in alphabetical order):
Ansonica Costa dell'Argentario, Barco Reale di Carmignano, Bianco dell'Empolese, Bianco di Pitigliano, Bolgheri, Bolgheri Sassicaia, Candia dei Colli Apuani, Capalbio, Colli dell'Etruria Centrale, Colli di Luni, Colline Lucchesi, Cortona, Elba, Grance Senesi, Maremma Toscana, Montecarlo, Montecucco, Monteregio di Massa Marittima, Montescudaio, Moscadello di Montalcino, Orcia, Parrina, Pomino, Rosso di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano, San Gimignano, San Torpè, Sant'Antimo, Sovana, Terratico di Bibbona, Terre di Casole, Terre di Pisa, Val d'Arbia, Val d'Arno di Sopra or Valdarno di Sopra, Val di Cornia, Valdichiana Toscana, Valdinievole, Vin Santo del Chianti, Vin Santo del Chianti Classico, Vin Santo di Carmignano, Vin Santo di Montepulciano.

4. Denomination of Origin Controlled and Guaranteed (DOCG)

tuscany chianti superioreDenominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita is also a "controlled designation of origin" for wine from Italy. In terms of quality (not taste), DOCG comes closest to the German predicate wine. The official description according to the EU regulation is:

Similar to the definition of DOC, but also contains the word "guaranteed" and is used for wines of particular value that have been recognized as DOC wines for at least five years. These wines are marketed in containers with a capacity of no more than 5 liters and have an official identification band to offer the consumer a better guarantee.

Official Journal of the European Union No. 607/2009 (L 193 / S. 104)

The DOCG wines represent the highest quality level in the official classification. The bottles have a band with “DOCG” on the neck and must be bottled in the growing area (other wines, as mass products, are often transported in large containers beforehand to be bottled outside the growing areas to become). There can be little to no difference between DOC and DOCG. It depends. Since many DOCG wines are more traditional, they are often more reliable in quality. It should be noted that within the names “Brunello”, “Chianti Classico” and the other large DOCG wines can in turn have differences in quality. In individual cases, it depends on the producer or the vintage, among other things.

There are currently 11 DOCG wines in Tuscany (sorted alphabetically):
Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Chianti (DOCG), Chianti Classico (DOCG), Elba Aleatico Passito, Montecucco Sangiovese, Morellino di Scansano, Suvereto, Val di Cornia Rosso, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

5. The "Chianti Classico", or the thing with the "black rooster"

For this purpose, we give parts from the very good description of Wikipedia in addition to our own knowledge in a somewhat abbreviated form.
(Page "Chianti (Wine)". In: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Status: November 21, 2016, 13:02 UTC. URL: (Retrieved: February 4, 2017, 12:11 UTC)

Chianti used to be synonymous with Italian wine and was traditionally sold in straw-braided bottles (fiasco). Two important red wines ("Chianti DOCG" and "Chianti Classico DOCG") and two dessert wines ("Vin Santo del Chianti DOC" and "Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC") are produced with the name Chianti. The red wines both received their "controlled and guaranteed designation of origin" (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) on July 2, 1984, after they had previously been certified as DOC wines since 1967. The "Vin Santo del Chianti" received its controlled designation of origin (DOC) on August 28, 1997. The "Vin Santo del Chianti Classico" has had a "Denominazione di Origine Controllata" since October 24, 1995.

The name Chianti was probably derived from an Etruscan family name and originally referred to the hilly landscape between Baliaccia and Monte Luco. The name was later extended to the towns of Castellina, Radda and Gaiole and formed the territorial core of the medieval Chianti League (Italian Lega del Chianti), a political and military alliance under the rule of the city-state Florence. This zone now forms the southern part of the Chianti Classico area. The black rooster (Gallo Nero) as the heraldic animal of the Chianti League later became the symbol of the Chianti Classico. In 1716 a decree of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III. de 'Medici one of the first wine laws. In this he defined a protected designation of origin for the Chianti and certain rules for marketing and production. This step can be seen as a forerunner of today's DOC and DOCG production regulations.

tuscany chianti classico nero galloToday the Black Rooster on the banderole of Chianti-Classico wines is to be understood as a separate trademark, but not as an official quality feature of the EU. The requirements for obtaining the trademark are stricter than the requirements for DOCG wines. Conversely, this means that no more Chianti DOCG is produced in the Chianti-Classico area (!) In order to guarantee the high quality standard in terms of ripening time, yield and grape variety (at least 80% Sangiovese).

The Chianti Classico is also produced in other quality levels:

Chianti Classico Reserve: Sale no earlier than 24 months after the harvest year, of which at least three months in the bottle.

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione: Sale no earlier than 30 months after the harvest year, of which at least three months in the bottle. This highest quality level of Chianti Classico was only introduced in 2013.

Last updated: 06.02.2024

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