According to EU law, the wine label must show the consumer which quality level and classification the wine has. This information is intended to help the consumer understand where the wine comes from and what its quality is and also that compliance with the regulations is monitored. However, since each EU country has its own wine laws, the regulations can also be very different, which can make understanding difficult for the consumer.
In the following paragraphs we would like to give you an overview of the classification of wines in Piedmont. We refrain from going into detail because the set of rules is very complicated and has many exceptions.
Basically there are only two classifications on the wine label in Piedmont:
DOC (Denominazione Origine Controllata)
DOCG (Denominazione Origine Controllata Garantita)
These designations mean that the wines are classified based on their origin or origin, and that this information is checked and, in the case of the DOCG classification, also guaranteed. Above all, however, this also means a quality classification . Compared to the German wine law, the DOC designation would cover quality wines, while the DOCG designation would refer to Prädikatswein.
Barolo and Barbaresco wines, the great growths of Piedmont, are all classified as DOCG wines and are subject to even stricter regulations than DOC wines. But the DOC wines also meet very high quality standards, and the differences between these two designations have become smaller in recent years.
All grape varieties grown in Piedmont have a defined growing area and all growing areas are in turn classified as either DOC or DOCG areas. There are 18 DOCG and 42 DOC areas and no other region in Italy has so many wines of the highest quality.
In principle, the winegrowers in Piedmont can determine the classification of their wines themselves. It always depends on the growing area in which your vineyards are located. However, they must meet strict regulations and conditions in order to receive the appropriate classification. This also means that some winegrowers deliberately classify their wines lower in order to circumvent the strict regulations. This is a big difference to the practices in Germany, where, for example, a quality wine is also classified and marketed as a quality wine.
Another special feature in Piedmont is the designation Superiore or Riserva. For Barolo or Barbaresco wines you can find the designation Riserva on the label and for Barbera and Dolcetto wines the designation Superiore. This means that the corresponding wines must have a longer minimum storage period or a higher alcohol content in order to be able to list them as Riserva or Superiore.
So, when you go shopping for your favorite Piedmont wine again, make sure that the label on the top of the bottle says DOC or DOCG.