On the Horizon

By Jack Brostrom
June 30, 2021

Proposed or Contemplated Changes to Italian Wine Denominations

Updated August 28, 2021

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. 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. Etna DOC wants to raise the profile of its sparkling wines by allowing only metodo classico production, requiring at least 80% Nerello Mascalese, and possibly allowing Carricante-based sparkling wines.
  4. Two changes have been drawn up for the Bolgheri DOC disciplinare. The first will require producers to include “Toscana” on labels right above “Bolgheri.” While hardly earth-shaking, the cross-marketing of denomination and region is a rapidly growing trend and should help build the brand of both. The second, more interesting revision tinkers with the formula for white Bolgheri, allowing producers to focus as they choose on Vermentino (as has always been the case), Sauvignon Blanc (a frequent minor player), or for the first time Viognier (presumably in response to warming temperatures).

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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