Italy began developing its official wine classifications in the 1960s, modeled on the French appellation system. The DOC and DOCG categories were introduced in 1963. DOCG remained inactive until 1982, and the IGT category followed in the early 1990s. DOCG, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, is the highest classification for Italian wines. It denotes controlled (controllata) production methods and guaranteed (garantita) wine quality. There are strict rules governing the production of DOCG wines, most obviously the permitted grape varieties, yield limits, grape ripeness, winemaking procedures and barrel/bottle maturation. Every DOCG wine is subject to official tasting procedures. To prevent counterfeiting, the bottles have a numbered government seal across the neck. Next up is DOC, Denominazione di Origine Controllata, is the main tier of Italian wine classification, and covers almost every traditional Italian wine style. There are around 330 individual DOC titles. The newest level, IGT, Indicazione Geografica Tipica, was introduced in 1992, to allow a certain level of freedom to Italy’s winemakers. Prior to 1992, many wines failed to qualify for DOC or DOCG status – not because they were of low quality, but because they were made from grape varieties (or blends) not sanctioned under DOC/G laws. And not to be left out Vino da Tavola; meaning ‘table wine’ in Italian, and represents the most basic level of Italian wine.
Amarone is the pride of the Valpolicella and the secret to this superb wine lies in the selection of the grapes that are then dried on plastic trays. Meticulous control is exercised during the drying process, which lasts until January/February when the grapes are finally pressed. The wine is then aged for 2 years in Slovenian oak barrels, then aged 1 more year in bottles to attain its completeness and nobility. Luca Gardini, one of Italy’s most famous sommeliers, ranked the 2012 Amarone della Valpolicella as 29th out of his lineup of the 50 best wines in the world. The wine is composed of 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, and 10% Molinara.