Posts tagged DOCG

Two Sicilies – Wines from Etna and Ragusa

Having just returned from the annual Sicilia en primeur event, I find myself swimming in impressions about what’s happening on this island. Or is it a continent on its own? The further from the mainland you get, the more you feel you’re on a separate continent, a crosswind of cultures set out in the Mediterranean Sea, the center of the ancient world. Every province has its own character, and the wines are no exception.

The newest standout is Etna, the province around the volcano, where wineries are springing up in this unique terroir, the winemakers lured by altitude, independence and potential. With red wines, producers make a range from international to modern unoaked to ancient styles.

The white wines of Etna really stood out to me, their aromatics, crispness and minerality providing a vivid expression of the volcanic soils the grapes are grown in.

Nearby is Sicily’s only DOCG: Cerasuolo di Vittoria, the wine a blend of nero d’Avila and frappato, two indigenous red grapes. The DOCG was created in 2005, and the wines I was tasting were well thought out, and well made. Nicely balanced. This blend is traditional to this part of Ragusa, in southeastern Sicily, but now that’s been made official, it’s changing – inevitably, I suppose.

From a native wine that was on the light side, ready to drink within a year, with the “cherry” notes its name evokes, the gravitas of the DOCG label is beginning to weigh the wine down, causing producers to think and rethink, to work on making it bigger and heartier. Instead of a wine that may age, pretty soon we may find this wine requires ageing.

Is this a good idea? Not necessarily. But it might be necessary if producers want to charge more now that they have that DOCG label around the neck of the bottle.
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news from VINO2010: Prosecco, Brunello, Chianti, Montepulciano

With Italy producing 30% of all the wine in the European Union, four of their top regions want to educate US consumers and buyers in a 3-year program beginning this spring. Could be fun.
Four wine regions have banded together to educate us. One is the effervescent Prosecco which is skyrocketing in worldwide popularity as an every-day sparkling wine. The other three are the great red wines from Tuscany: Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Famously enchanting Tuscany traditionally produces the well-known red wines of Chianti, Brunello and Montalcino. They are all made with the same grape, Sangiovese. Brunello, headquartered in the southern hilltop town of Montalcino, must be 100% Sangiovese. Wines from the two other regions can be 100% Sangiovese: Vino Nobile di Montalcino surrounding another hilltop town to the east, and Chianti Classico, further north, around Florence. In these two areas, depending on the vintage, a winemaker may decide that blending would enhance the wines and add as much as to 20% of certain other proscribed red grapes.
Charming, small-town-studded Prosecco is the fourth region in this promotional alliance, producing high-quality sparkling wines from the prosecco grape in an area between the alluring city of Venice and the friendly slopes of the Dolomite Mountains.
Why now? Several reasons. First, as of this year, Prosecco has achieved an upgrade, adding the designation in Italian winemaking, DOCG. This means they adhere to the highest standards of quality in the vineyards, winemaking and ageing. Brunello di Montalcino was awared DOCG status in 1980, and is a wonderful wine when made with stringent guidelines. Last year there was a public question of some Brunellos being made some “illegal” (non-Sangiovese) red wines blended in. Wines were confiscated, tests were made, and apparently the scandal has abated. Wine producers seem to have come through reasonably unscathed and re-devoted to authenticity.
In Vino Nobile di Montepulciano there is also a new spirit, not for any reasons of scandal, but rather because this region has been overshadowed by the two other red wines of Tuscany, and it’s now up to Montepulciano to begin pulling its weight again, with consumers.
Chianti Classico may be one the most familiar Italian red wines in America; it is also the oldest wine demarcated area in Tuscany. Recently, producers united under the easily-recognizable “Black Rooster” symbol to make it easier for consumers to identify these quality wines.
At VINO2010, the recent Italian wine conference in New York City, FEDERDOC president Ricardo Ricci Curbastro announced the educational initiative targeting the United States and Japan, to increase awareness of the European Union’s new wine quality designation that go into effect April 1, 2010. The funding comes half from the EU and half from the wine regions.
Curbastro described the DOP and IGP as “Protected Designation of Origen” and “Protected Geographical Indication” labels for the wines that were known as DOCG and DOC in Italy. These regions would like to convey the concept that, across the board there can be “different wines with the same philosophy” of quality, according to Silvia Baratta who handles communications and marketing for the Prosecco consortium.