The quality and production of the typical products of an area are protected by Italian and international laws that define their identity and geographical origin. In other words, origin denomination certifies the quality and uniqueness of a product.
So how do we handle all these denomination acronyms, and how can we understand what they refer to? In the first place it is important to understand that these protection marks indicate typical products which come under a precise legislation that guarantees extremely high quality standards and product originality.
They are also essential for stemming the diffusion of fake products, and this is why it is impossible to find a bottle of real Amarone wine that does not come from the Valpolicella area.
DOP and IGP
The DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta – Protected Designation of Origin) protection mark indicates origin protection, and it is attributed by the European Union to food whose quality characteristics depend essentially or exclusively on the production area and traditional production techniques. A DOP wine is made, transformed and elaborated in a specific geographical area according to very strict regulations.
The label IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta - Protected Geographical Indication) instead refers to a region and the products that are made in the area, but specific regulations do not have to be followed. These two marks (DOP and IGP) are further divided in Italy, a country with deeply-rooted food and wine traditions.
The Italian quality road (defined by Law 164/1992) divides wines into quality wines (all produced in specific regions) and table wine (with and without geographical indication).
DOC: Denominazione di Origine Controllata – Controlled Designation of Origin
This mark recognises the quality and typicality of wines produced in limited small- and medium-sized areas. An example is Valpolicella DOC wine (Valpolicella and Valpolicella Ripasso Classic and Superior).
The production of these wines is controlled by strict regulations that define the production methods and times, and this mark can only be applied after careful chemical and sensorial analyses.
DOCG: Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita - Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin
This protection mark is attributed exclusively to particularly prestigious wines that are recognised both nationally and internationally, and which follow the highest production standards to obtain an excellent quality product that is one of its kind.
These wines are the upper section of the DOC wines, and undergo very strict checks along the whole production chain: they must carry the State countermark which guarantees origin and quality, and which makes it possible to number all the bottles produced.
In addition, these wines must be bottled in the production area, placing the whole chain in the zone of origin. The most famous example is Amarone della Valpolicella (even Classic), the production of which follows extremely strict criteria.
IGT: Indicazione Geografica Tipica - Protected Geographical Indication
IGT attributes superior quality to table wines produced in large production areas and with less restrictive production rules than those for DOC and DOCG wines. IGT wines are made from autochthonous vines coming from well-defined areas.
An example is Corvina IGT, a red wine produced in Vapolicella from autochthonous Corvina Veronese grapes.
When clients select a wine with a denomination of origin protection mark, they can be sure that their choice guarantees quality and uniqueness, in particular in the wine market where imitations are very common.
The protection marks are extremely important tools for certifying high production standards and for spreading the quality and typicality of Italy all over the world.