Feb 162011

In an article from a 2009 edition of the Italian online journal “La Voce,” economists Stefano Castriota and Marco Delmastro discuss changes proposed for the classification of European wines. Currently Italy’s wines are subdivided in four categories in ascending order: vino da tavola (table wine), IGP (Protected Geographic Indication), DOC (Controlled Origin Denomination) and DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Origin Denomination). Castriota and Delmastro explain that the combination of one of these institutional classifications and the collective reputation of specific denominations (e.g. Chianti, Barolo, Brunello) have a considerable impact on a wine’s sales abroad.

The new EU law (CE479/2008) proposes a Europe-wide classification which would have only three levels, thus collapsing DOC and DOCG into one category. What’s worse, argue the two economists, table wine in Italy has heretofore not been allowed to have the vintage or name of the grape used to make the wine. The new law would allow that, elevating the lowest level of the classification system and flattening the three levels. The net effect is reducing the quality of information to the consumer, possibly with the effect of leaving the market to only the strongest players or those with the best marketing strategy, not necessarily those with the best wine. So far few producers have put the DOP label on their bottles, and producers that were making DOC/DOCG wines before the passage of the law have been allowed to continue to use these denominations. ZN

The original article (in Italian) is available here, and here is the pdf of the proposed EU Wine Law.

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