10_italy_spain_portugal - 53 THE WINES OF ITALY In recent...

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53 THE WINES OF ITALY In recent years Italy has usually been the largest wine producer in the world (although France is number one in the latest figures). Italy is also the largest exporter of wines to the United States in terms of volume . (In terms of value , however, France is the leading exporter to the U.S., because the Italian wines sold in the U.S. are typically lower priced than French wines.) Like the country itself, Italian wines are extremely diverse. Historically, the different parts of Italy have been independent and isolated from each other, leading to the development of hundreds of distinct grapes and wine types throughout the country. It is estimated that there are over 1000 indigenous grape varieties in Italy. This is a dynamic time for the Italian wine industry. Although some fine Italian wines have long had strong international reputations, until recently most Italian wine has been considered ordinary by world standards. However, throughout Italy there is now increasing interest in producing high-quality competitive wines. Previously disregarded regions are steadily emerging as progressive wine producers improve the quality of their wines. THE ITALIAN APPELLATION SYSTEM The Italian appellation system is based on that of France. Instead of AOC, the Italian appellations are referred to as DOC ( Denominazione di Origine Controllata ). As in the French system, a DOC is a name given to a wine from a specific geographic region that is made from specified grape varieties and by specified methods . When the French appellation law was developed, many French producers were already market oriented and producing high quality wines. Thus, the local production methods that were written into law were generally good practices and so AOC wines are generally regarded as being of good quality. In Italy, by contrast, most producers were still making wine only for their local markets when the appellation law was developed in the 1960’s. Many of the wines used mediocre grape varieties, the vines were overcropped and the wines were not well-made. Thus, the grape varieties and production controls that were written into law insured that the wines would be typical of each region, but not necessarily of high quality . As a result, the Italian appellation system has been subject to a lot of criticism and many progressive producers, feeling constrained by laws that require them to make what they consider to be inferior wine, have chosen to make wines that do not conform to the law and must thus be labeled vino da tavola (table wine). One attempt to improve the Italian system was the development of the DOCG category ( Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita ), reserved for wines of particular distinction. An important difference between the French and Italian appellation systems is the hierarchical structure of the French system (i.e., small appellations contained within larger ones). The Italian appellations are not hierarchical . DOCG’s are not necessarily contained within a DOC and wines that fail to meet DOCG standards are not declassified to DOC but to vino da tavola. In Italy, the
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This note was uploaded on 06/29/2009 for the course VEN 3 taught by Professor Can'tremember during the Spring '08 term at UC Davis.

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10_italy_spain_portugal - 53 THE WINES OF ITALY In recent...

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