DOC: Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Italy)

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Italy’s pdo denomination has had a chequered history. Italian wine was first regulated systematically in 1963 in an effort to bring Italy’s wine laws into line with fellow eu founding nation France. A few of Italy’s most famous wines had already been given legal recognition and protection in the 1930s but this new system was designed to be much more comprehensive and modelled on France’s appellation contrôlée. This meant that individual production zones were delimited; permitted vine varieties specified, often with specific percentages; levels of alcohol, total acidity, and extract were established; and limits, often very generously, placed on yields. Viticultural and winemaking practices were regulated, albeit often in the haziest of terms: ‘in conformity with existing practices’ or ‘so as to not change the nature of the wine’ are frequent phrases in the rules of individual DOCs. As in the case of the French archetype, this new system was set up to protect wine regions against counterfeit products and imitations, but has often seemed more concerned with enshrining in law existing practice than in optimizing quality in wine.