On the face of it, the acronym DOCG is relatively straightforward.
DOCG stands for Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita.
Literally translated, it means designation of controlled and guaranteed origin. More precisely, it means monitored and guaranteed appellation. In other words, it’s a classification for wines for which grapes have been grown and monitored in a highly specific geographic area; made using specific vinification techniques and standards, also monitored; and guaranteed inasmuch as a team of appellation-sanctioned tasters and technicians have randomly sampled the product once it has been bottled but before its commercial release.
The designation stands apart from the Italian DOC (Denominazione d’Origine Controllata or designation of controlled origin) in that the wines are monitored throughout the growing cycle and the vinfication process. And they are most likely tasted by a specially appointed tasting panel. But they are not necessarily guaranteed.
For all intents and purposes, the DOCG represents the highest tier in the Italian wine appellation classification system. And it is reserved for the country’s top wines (like Barolo and Brunello among many other notable appellations).
But in the land of Prosecco the difference between the DOC wines and DOCG wines is extremely important. And it’s important to note that Prosecco is one of those rare appellations for which a DOC and a DOCG exist.
The main difference is that Prosecco DOCG can only be grown in three townships: Valdobbiadene, Conegliano, and Asolo (Villa Sandi, for the record, makes wines using fruit mostly from Valdobbiadene but also the other two townships as well).
And those three townships are located and spread across the hills of Treviso province — and not the valley.
When you drink Prosecco DOCG like that produced by Villa Sandi, you are assured that you are drinking a wine that was grown exclusively in the best growing zones: Hilltops with subsoils comprised mostly of morainic stones (glacial debris).
Because of the steep slopes of those hills, much of the vineyard work has to be done by hand (whereas the valley floor fruit can be farmed and harvested mechanically).
There are other important differences as well, like the many regulations regarding production etc. But this is the most significant one.
We’ll look at other reasons why the DOCG is so important in upcoming posts as well.