Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) or DOCG is the highest designation of quality among Italian wines under Italian wine law, the tier immediately above Denominazione di Origine Controllata or DOC.
The DOCG is reserved for wines that had been made as DOC wines for the previous ten years, with at least 51% of the producers in the previous two years making DOC wines, thus representing at least 51% of that area’s total wine production volume. For the elite DOCG category, the law mandates even narrower production criteria than for DOC wines: the production area is smaller, the yield ratio per hectare is quite lower, stricter rules about minimum natural alcohol content and obligations about aging and/or refinement are all in effect. Organoleptic and chemical analysis must be repeated for each lot before selling a DOCG wine on the market. The marketable bottle must be below five liters capacity. Finally, the wine must be analyzed twice before being bottled. In case of failure, the producer can appeal to the committee only once, and the appeal is final. At least in theory, quality controls are quite strict and ought to guarantee the quality of the wine before it is bottled. The first check is a laboratory series of tests analyzing the wines’ chemical and physical properties that have to meet the government guidelines for each wine type. The positive outcome of the chemical-physical test enables the organoleptic test conducted by the Tasting Commission, which is nominated by the Chamber of Commerce. The Tasting Commission classify the wines using the following parameters: ‘Suitable’, ‘Temporarily unfit — new test required’, or ‘Unsuitable’. In case of ‘Temporarily unfit — new test required’, the wine-maker may request a new sample within 60 days of being notified. Clearly, the negative outcome of the chemical-physical tests delays the subsequent organoleptic test and may result in the downgrading of all the wine unless, within seven days of receipt of the failure notice, the chemical-physical tests are repeated and passed.
Wines belonging to DOCG rank show on the bottleneck a numbered state label printed from the Italian Ministry of Agriculture in order to certify that the strict national regulations have been abided by. Attempts to forge such labels have been commonplace, so surveillance is high. It must be pointed out, however, that the DOCG—where the G stands for “garantita” or guaranteed—does not, as one might read elsewhere, guarantee anything at all. Though these wines are tasted in two different occasions, often government often simply rubber-stamp the wine presented before them. The Piedmont, Veneto and Tuscany regions have the most DOCG wines.
Source: Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.30-31.