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Liquori e Birra

Our Brief Italian Wine Guide

 

A guide to Italian wine classifications, vintages and award systems.

Italy has a wine classification system that gives the customer a guide to wines that meet the quality criteria.- see below.

However there are many good- excellent wines from big names and small names- that - because they don't meet the strict criteria - fall into a lower classification. For example Tignanello - a famous & expensive quality super Tuscan wine used to be classed as a table wine (vdt). A great wine that does not meet the strict rules for the classification. So classifications are important as a guide - but there are sometimes exceptions. Sometimes the rules change and then wines can change classification - for example Sassicaia used to be a table wine (vdt) then an IGT, and now a doc wine!  No one promised this would be easy !!

 


Classifications & regulations

 

Similar, but in some ways more comprehensive, to the French system, the Italian wine classification system can pre-determine the grape varieties used, the region where it is grown, vinified or bottled, the age before release, and other attributes before the wine can attain that classification. Here are the overall definitions that Italian wines fall under -

VDT Vino di Tavola

Table wine- does not meet the regional or varietal standards. However some very good wines are/were categorised here because they break the normal rules for the region- example Solaia from Antino

IGT/

IGP

Indicazione Geografica Tipica

Wine that is typical of the region and in many cases must contain varieties typical of the region as well, usually with the main variety being 85% of the wine. Once again there are some excellent and famous wines that are in this category because they want the freedom to blend. Can be high quality wines in this category. (Also now IGP)

DOC/

DOP

Denominazione di Origine Controllata

DOC (315-2011)sets prescribed limits on things such as color, grape varieties, minimum alcohol levels, maximum yields in grapes per vine per hectare and wine from grapes, basic sensory characteristics, maturation (in wood or otherwise and possibly in sealed tanks),required minimum aging times, including sub-zones such as classico etc. (Also now DOP)

DOCG

/DOP

Denominazione di Origine Controllata Guarantia

Some 56 wine 'types' (January 2011) in this category. All grape varities are Italian or if International varieites (such as Merlot) have been grown in the region for more than 100 years.Yields from the land are more limited to improve quality and sample wines are submitted for testing. All docg wines have a numbered neck label. production levels are monitored.

  Classico

Grapes from a variety grown inside a particular geographic boundary- the historic core of a DOC wine production zone- where it is believed higher quality wines are produced. Examples Chianti Classico doc, Soave Classico doc, Valpollicella Classico doc, Amarone Classico doc.

 

Superiore

 

Denotes DOC wine that meets higher standards, usually through selection, often higher alcohol, longer aging, a special selection, though conditions vary.
 

Riserva

 

Reserve, for DOC or DOCG wine aged a specific time. In some regions 'Riserva' is not specified and can then be called Riserva at the choice of the Estate.

(Be aware that classifications are regional, that is to say they can be quite different between regions.)


Vintage Chart

  2000 2001 2002
2003 2004 2005 2006   2007     2008   
Toscana Best Good - Be Careful Best Good -Be Careful Old- poor< Difficult, but the best good Montalcino-V.Good, Chianti OK Variable Excellent V.Good   V.Good
Piemonte Excellent< VG Nebbiolo & Barbera Poor Only the best good Very Good Only the best good V.Good V.Good   V.Good
Amarone , Veneto Can Be Good Classic  - VG Poor Can Be Outstanding The Best are Good Poor except Amarone/Recioto Outstanding Best are good  V.Good
Marches, Abruzzo Very good Very good Poor Excellent Only Best Good Only Best Good Average Good  V.Good
Campania, Basilicata Very good Very good Poor Very good Medium Outstanding Excellent V.Good  V.Good

 

best= means the best wine makers- not the famous labels

Outlook for 2009 (reds) & 2010 is excellent.

 

 

 

Awards

Points are merely a guide & we believe reasonably useful. But points do not account for individual or regional tastes.

The same wine in the UK or USA for example may be awarded different points - to account for local tastes.

They are no substitute for trying a wine - we recommend trying a wine both with & without food to obtain a full picture.

Price still plays a role- a 90 point wine at $25 is still not the same as a 90 point wine at $250.

 


Some wine scoring systems.

90  = Points out of 100, WineSpectator, Robert Parker,  Wine advocate, I Vironelli

***** = Stars - Decanter Magazine, maximum 5.

♣♣♣ or ♣♣♣ = Bunch of grapes Italian wine sommeliers guide, maximum 5

Π =  Bottles awarded L'Espresso Guido, Vin Italia  maximum-4

∇   to  ∇∇∇ = Glasses -Gambero Rosso, max 3 red. 

2 Red glasses awarded for quality, and then re-judged. Finalists awarded 3 red glasses.

      One black glass - above average to good- 70-79 points

      Two black glasses - very good to excellent- 80-89 points

      Two red glasses - very good to excellent, selected for finals tasting - 85-95 points

      Three red glasses - excellent /exceptional wine in its category - 90-99 points.

Gambero Rosso assesses 25,000 wines from 2,250 wineries and reviews about 18,000 wines.

 

It is important to know that unless wines are exported to the USA, they are rarely rated by Wine Spectator & Wine Advocate. This is usually because they are made in small quantities and are not available in the enormous US market. (This often means that the commercial wines, available in larger quantities, are exported to foreign markets first).

However the Italian trade and wine media also take wine rating seriously and the Gambero Rosso wine guide and the Wine Sommeliers guide are scores that carry some weight and regard.

 


Serving wine in Singapore

 

Most serving guidelines are written for other countries & climates- this is what works to get the best from your wine in  Singapore-

  • Decanting- decanting can never hurt a wine - (with the exception of very old wines such as pre 1997 Italian wines), it allows wines to open more quickly and assists young wines especially in achieving their optimum taste. MOST red wines improve with decanting and most wines (younger than say 15 years in general) suffer in any way. Older wines need more skill, care and knowledge.
  • Wine Temperatures WHITE- Most white wines are served too chilled. Over chilling can kill the typical taste characteristics. The better the wine the more this applies. For many white wines it is better to occasionally remove from an ice bucket if provided in a restaurant. As the wine increases temperature and 'opens' you will taste the more complex flavours of the wine that are 'killed' when too cold.
  • Wine Temperature RED wines- Red wine when too warm will not reveal the true tastes and characteristics of the wine. Room temperature in Singapore is frequently too warm even in air conditioning. Red wine should be delivered cool to the table if it was stored correctly. The more tannic red wines do not appreciate being too cold. The best temperature for the 'nose' is 16'-18'. In air conditioning red wines frequently reach an average temperature of 21' , It is better to 'chill' a red wine first and then give it time to reach optimum temperature. This will bring out the full flavour of the wine.

 

ASK FOR DETAILS OF OUR ITALIAN WINE COURSE - WHICH INCLUDES TASTING SERIOUS WINES AND LUNCH!

See EVENTS for the next course.

 

Wine Glasses.

As covered in our wine courses, glasses ARE important, and yes they can make a real difference to the taste of your wines.

If you buy good wines, you should buy good glasses- or at least the right shape. (IKEA is always good value).

Cabernet          Burgundy 

   Glass                Glass

 

Glass Cabernet 

 

 
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