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Posted: Thursday, April 30 2009. 14:35

Feature: Confusing World of Italian IGT Wines

Often perceived as a specification assigned to wines made using grapes from a single Italian wine region, the 117 existing Italian IGT wines are based on a well defined Italian law passed in 1992 and the changes are possible only through an executive decree, writes Subhash Arora who visited Tuscany twice  recently.

Super Tuscans are a classical example of IGT wines which have given them a lot of glamour and a sense of wildness and free spirited approach to winemaking thus daring to break away from the strict appellation laws. In fact, the 1992 law was introduced, partly to encapsulate these wines which were beyond the realm of the DOC and DOCG system and still are outside the boundaries established by the appellation laws.

IGT & government decree

The decree defining IGT wines was passed through Law 164 in 1992. But it was not followed up quickly enough and Tuscany was the first region which got the first IGT wine through a decree only on October 9, 1995. All other regions were allowed to use the IGT status soon after with the exception of Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta which used their constitutional prerogative not to opt for them.

The system was introduced, albeit in a tardy fashion, following the EEC Regulations of 1979 following which France introduced its Vin de Pays and Germany had its Landwein.

In the appellation hierarchy, the IGT wines- Indicazione Georgrafica Tipica, were designed to be somewhere between the lowest end Vino di tavola and the DOC, Denominazione di Origine Controllata which could be further elevated to the highest quality denomination DOCG, Denominazione de Origine Contollata e Garantita.

In order to attain the status of DOC, the wines have to maintain a status of IGT for a minimum of 5 years; the same period is applicable further for the DOC wines if they want to attain the DOCG status.

The world of IGT wines

Italy has 20 regions (like states in India or US) all of which produce wine. They are further divided into 110 provinces, Lombardy having the maximum at 12 followed by 10 in Tuscany. The 18 regions following the IGT system have a total of 117 IGT wines.

Sardegna (Sardinia) has the maximum (15), followed by Lombardy (14), Calabria (13), Veneto (10). Tuscany has only 5 while Sicily has 6 such wines. Marche is the only region having only one- ‘IGT Marche’ and the same holds for red or white wine.

A region may have an IGT encompassing the whole region- for instance IGT Toscana. But it may choose not to include the name of the region. Sardinia despite the highest number of 15 such wines has no IGT Sardinia. Further, the boundary may be defined by the province as well- Emilia Romagna has IGT Emilia but also IGTs Ravenna, Rubicone and Modena.

Grapes and Process of IGT wines

Contrary to the common belief, the grapes that may be used in the IGT wine are defined by the decree. The IGT wines are also allowed to use varietals, in which case a minimum of 85% grapes must be those after which the name has been taken, the balance being the non aromatic variety of the same colour and from within the allowed category. Thus the ubiquitous red wine retailed in India, the IGT Rubicone Sangiovese becomes easier to understand.

The yield of grapes is also pre-defined. In Emilia Romagna IGT wines for example, the white wines may have a maximum yield of 24 tonnes/ hA while the reds must stick to the lower yield of 22 tonnes/hA. For the varietals, the limit is defined separately for each of the grape varietal- Sangiovese, must have a yield no more than 21 tonnes/ hA.

The minimum permissible alcohol levels are also pre-defined. In case of IGT Rubicone, the minimum alcohol by volume may be 10% although for the Novello (similar to Nouveau in Beaujolais) it has to be higher, at 11%.

The wine making process can also be defined for IGT wines. For instance, a frizzante (semi-sparkling) must not have effervescence infused (like in a Coke bottle).

The maximum extraction of wines from grapes is also pre-defined and mostly it is fixed at 75%.

The area of cultivation is also specific. An IGT Toscana may use grapes from all territories of its 10 provinces; Arezzo, Florence, Grosseto (in Maremma), Livorno, Massa Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia Prato and Siena. Alta Valle Della Greve IGT however, may use grapes only from the Greve valley, in the heart of Chianti Classico region.

Inter-regional IGT wines

The classification can get further confusing since at times the IGT wines are not within the region but are inter-regional- and may be from 2 or even 3 regions. IGT Alto Livenza (named after the Venetian river) has wines from specific areas in Treviso province in Veneto and Pordenone province in Friuli- Venezia Giulia (FVG) region.

IGT Delle Venezie uses grapes from Trento in Trentino-Alto Adige and the whole region of Veneto and FVG. Vigneti Delle Dolomiti uses grapes from the provinces of Bolzano and Trento in Trentino- Alto Adige and Belluno, the northernmost province in the region of Veneto.

Therefore, the IGT wines may vary from a € 2 bottle to an IGT Super Tuscan selling for more than € 40. Talking about IGT wines, Dharti Desai, CEO of FineWinesNMore comments, ‘one can see a range of pricing from a few Euros to hundreds of Euros. We have a fairly large Italian portfolio with 15 well balanced, price/quality IGT wines, e.g.,  Anthilia IGT Sicily from Donnafugata. Sedara IGT Sicilia, Tenuta Coppadoro, IGT Puglia.’

 ‘We have a wide variety of IGT wines, the prices of which varies from entry level to high end wines. Since India is a mixed market, Brindco caters to all', says Aman Dhall, the leading Indian importer. ‘ For instance we sell Remole and Pater for Rs. 1150 while Mormoreto and Lamaione are priced at around Rs. 6900. All 4 are IGT Toscana wines from Frescobaldi, yet the price difference is significant. Promis from Angelo Gaja’s Ca’marcanda is also IGT Toscana but sells for Rs.3300.We have a few IGT wines that sell for less than Rs.700 too,' he adds.

Similarly, a great variation can be seen in the prices provided by Kavita Faiella, the young Australian Cellar Master at the newly opened Aman Resorts in Delhi. Says Kavita,’ the prices depend a lot on the producer and his reputation. For instance we have a super-Veronese, Harlequin from Zyme. It is an IGT Veneto wine crafted from 15 grape varieties made by the wine making Genius Celestio Gasperi of Quinterelli. It sells for Rs.63, 000  whereas a white wine from the same producer, labeled as ‘ Black to White’ and made from Rondinella and a small percentage of Traminer and Kerner grapes sells much cheaper at Rs.6,000.

An understanding about the system of IGT wines should help you swim through the world of Italian IGT wine better and make a more intelligent choice the next time you come across one, whether you are a consumer, importer, a restaurant manager or  buyer.

Cav. Subhash Arora

       

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