Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Italian term appended to the names of various doc or docg wines to indicate that they have been produced in the historic zone, the zone which, at least in theory, offers the ideal conditions of soil and climate and which gave the wine its name.

The name of the wine without the adjective Classico is usually applied to a significant expansion of the original production zone into areas which generally, but not always, cultivate the same grape varieties but in different, and usually less satisfactory, conditions, frequently with more lenient production requirements. The origins of this practice, which occurred well before the establishment of the DOC system in the 1960s, and has often been driven by economic motives, lie in the regulation of the use of the name chianti established by the Dalmasso Commission in the 1930s (see chianti classico). This precedent was widely followed as the various DOCs came into being between 1963, when the law regulating the demarcation of Italy’s wine regions was passed, and 1975, since when a significant number of Italy’s historically important wines are now produced in both a Classico and a regular version. These include bardolino, caldaro, chianti, cirò, Colli bolognesi, Pignoletto, Garda, orvieto, santa maddalena, soave, terlano, valpolicella, and verdicchio.