In 1980, Italian authorities established a superior classification of DOC wines. Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) began with five wines, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Chianti all Tuscan, Barolo and Barbaresco, both produced in Piedmont. All had established international reputations and all but one 'Brunello' had been produced for centuries. Today, a total of 24 wines have been awarded the prestigious DOCG status.
A DOCG wine must meet standards that are stricter than those stipulated in DOC regulations. One of the principal differences is the lower yields imposed. The reductions in output have probably done more to improve the quality of the wines than any other condition in the production. The rules also require in-depth chemical analyses for all DOCG wines. Laboratories recognized by the government must carry out the examinations of the wines' physical composition.
Once the analyses have demonstrated that the chemical properties are in accordance with the standards specified in the DOCG regulations, committees of expert tasters sample each producer's wines. The committees can reject wines that fail to meet the specified sensory standards or instruct the producers to take steps to remedy deficiencies before approving or discarding the wine.
Upon receipt of a favourable report on the outcome of this analysis, the producers' consortia issues small pink numbered seals that fit over the top of the bottles of DOCG wines. Strict controls are applied to ensure that the number of seals issued corresponds to the amount of wine that can be produced in accordance with the regulations.
Today, within the DOC and DOCG zones well over 2,000 types of wine are produced. The extensive preparations the wine producers who apply for DOCG recognition must make are time consuming and require substantial investments. These strict controls placed on DOCG ensures that what finally is served to enthusiasts all over the world, is of only the finest that Italy has to offer.