The difference between DOCG, DOC, IGT (and all the other acronyms of years past) can make purchasing a pleasing bottle of Italian wine seem like an impossible challenge.
So when importers, distributers, and consumers learned that the European Union would be adding their own pyramid of rules and labels to the fracas, there was legitimate concern.
In a panel moderated by Bill Earle of the National Association of Beverage Importers
, key figures spoke of the consequences of the change, but also the ultimate goal: actually simplifying the labeling scheme for consumers around the world.
Lamberto Vallarino Gancia of FEDERVINI
offered an overview. The goal for the EU is to protect geographical references, and offer labels that are in line with a consumer's basic understanding of where wine originates. The hope is to increase the market share of EU wine worldwide.
Sharron McCarthy of Banfi Vintners
further extrapolated the meanings behind the acronyms.
- PDO- Protected Designation of Origin. This is directly analogous to the current Italian designation of DOCG.
- PGI- Protected Geographical Indication. This is directly analogous to the current designation of DOC.
This may simplify both classification systems for consumers, as PDO and PGI are, above all, classifications for regional foods. Parmigiano, as an example, may only be labeled as such if it from the proper, designated PDO. The same goes for Chianti.
The panel stressed the importance of the fact that this new PDO/PGI system is secondary to existing classification systems, like the DOCG/DOC system in Italy, as they are essentially mirrors of one another.
The PDO/PGI system is simply an additional classification system that may be used for the education of consumers.
William Foster of the TTB
iterated the (admittedly few) hurdles wines with the new classification codes will face during import. As labels in the EU can use the DOCG system, the PDO system, or both, all can be imported into the US.
The only hurdle facing import of Italian wine with the new system involves varietal specific wine that can now be labeled with merely a country of origin.
Called "international varietals," wines that are 85% Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of the two Cabernets, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, or Sauvignon Blanc may now be sold in the EU with simply a country of origin.
Currently, the TTB does not allow the import of wines that only list a country of origin.
Alexander Joerger of A&P/Best Cellars
approved of the new system, especially in the eye of retailers and consumers.
"Value is over-delivering on expectations for the price," he stated.
Simplifying relevant information for a consumer aids the buying decision. If more Italian wines are able to be imported, there is a greater chance of Italian wines being purchased in America.