On the Horizon

By Jack Brostrom
May 4, 2022

Proposed or Contemplated Changes to Italian Wine Denominations

Updated March 7, 2023

The list of officially approved Italian wine-producing areas (denominations and geographic indications) and the rules of production for those areas are in a constant state of flux. Not exactly like Class IV rapids, but not glacial either—more of a babbling brook of activity (although there was a flood a decade or so ago). Depending on the type of proposal, the approval process can take a very long time. This page lists some of the more significant proposals that are presently in an advanced stage of the process. These range from well-founded rumors to proposals just on the verge of official acceptance, but they are not the current state of affairs (and may never be). This page will be updated as new information becomes available.

New/Renamed/Upgraded Denominations (not yet official)

  1. Likely DOCG #77: The Canelli subzone of Asti DOCG (for frizzante Moscato d’Asti only, not sparkling Asti) is being groomed to become its own independent denomination as Canelli DOCG, probably from the 2022 harvest, much as Nizza DOCG began its solo career apart from Barbera d’Asti DOCG in 2014.
  2. Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Riserva DOCG, having already changed its name from Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva in 2011, now plans to remove Verdicchio from the name entirely, becoming just Castelli di Jesi DOCG. It will remain a Verdicchio-based wine, but the intent is to put the focus on the place and not on the grape variety. The far smaller companion denomination Verdicchio di Matelica DOC has also expressed an intent to do the same, becoming just Matelica DOC.
  3. Pignoletto DOC, which in 2014 was spun off from Colli Bolognesi DOC for wines based on Grechetto—locally known as Pignoletto—has been refused permission by the EU to use Pignoletto as the denomination name (and thereby prevent its use as a grape variety name). Rather than go backward, the producers are proposing a name change to Emilia-Romagna DOC. At this point, no action is expected on this until the 2022 harvest.
  4. Colli di Rimini DOC is asking approval for rebranding as Rimini DOC.
  5. Possible DOCG #78 or so: The Casauria subzone of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC is bidding to move out on its own and become Abruzzo’s third DOCG, joining Colline Teramane Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Tullum. With 35 hectares of vineyards declared as of 2021 and production of around 20,000 cases, it falls between the other two DOCGs in size, but will undoubtedly struggle for market share initially. Unlike Tullum, Casauria would be devoted entirely to Montepulciano-based wines.
  6. The newly formed consorzio for all Ligurian producers is toying with a number of ideas for collective growth, including creating a regionwide Liguria DOC, possibly for Vermentino wines only.

Revisions of Denomination Rules (not yet official)

  1. The Chianti Classico DOCG consorzio has agreed internally to revise the Gran Selezione quality designation to better distinguish those wines from the Riserva level and capture more attention from sommeliers and consumers. The changes would increase the minimum Sangiovese content to 90%, forbid the inclusion of international grape varieties in the blend, and introduce 11 subzones that can be named on labels of GS wines.
  2. In a parallel development to the above, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG consorzio is also proposing to add a new “Pieve” quality designation above Riserva level as their flagship category. The denomination has been divided into 12 subzones called pievi. Wines carrying a pieve name on the label would have to have a minimum of 85% Sangiovese, with only traditional grape varieties blended in, grown in estate-controlled vineyards within the pieve.
  3. The regional authorities in Tuscany have given a generally favorable opinion to a proposal by the Chianti DOCG consorzio that would reduce the minimum percentage of Sangiovese in the blend from 70% to 60%. In addition, a new, eighth subzone—Terre di Vinci, around Leonardo’s hometown of Vinci—would be created. The consorzio also wants to establish a Gran Selezione quality level like Chianti Classico has, but that has been put on hold while Chianti Classico presses its case that it owns “Gran Selezione” as a trademark. Chianti’s disciplinare revisions have now gone to Rome for national-level approval.
  4. Both Fiano di Avellino DOCG and Monti Lessini DOC have proposed to add sparkling wines to their repertoire. The Spumante versions of Monti Lessini would be made with at least 85% of the area’s Durella variety, and those of Fiano di Avellino would of course be Fiano based. These changes require approval at the EU level, which will slow down the process, but there is no reason they shouldn’t be approved eventually.

Recently Approved Rule Changes (these are official)

  1. The four region-level denominations in AbruzzoAbruzzo DOC, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOChave each added four subzones, basically breaking out Abruzzo’s four provinces. The subzone designations will be available only for wines at the Superiore and Riserva levels. Numerous other changes were introduced at the same time, generally intended to nudge quality levels higher. Read more
  2. The denomination formerly known as Bianco di Custoza DOC has joined the movement to rebrand with a focus on the place-name rather than the wine per se and is now simply Custoza DOC. That name had been an alternative on labels for some time, but “Bianco di” has now been discarded completely. In theory, this also opens the door to the inclusion of other local wines that are not bianco—i.e., reds or rosatos—although there haven’t been any overt moves in that direction so far.

Anaheim Hills horizon photo by Jordan Wozniak on Unsplash
Desert horizon photo by Diego Jimenez on Unsplash

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3 comments on “On the Horizon”

  1. Thank you for this up-date. No doubt you have covered the Prosecco Rose DOC denomination in a previous posting.

    1. You’re welcome, Yegas. Yes, the introduction of a pink version of Prosecco became official in 2020, so is not mentioned here. The relevant post is available here.

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