Peter Gatti, Twin Liquors’ Director of Education here, continuing our Italian Wine Month theme of discussing different wines, but this week, we’ll talk about a category rather than a specific wine or groups of wines.
So, how often have you stood in front of a collection of Italian wine and seen the letters IGT on the label? Ever wondered what they mean or have anyone in the shop try to explain them? It’s the designation for a wide ranging category that has a lot of terrific wines hiding in plain sight!
Some quick background if I may…By the late 1960’s Italy was producing a LOT of mediocre inexpensive wine for export, and a small group of quality producers, disgusted with the trend, decided to do something new. They utilized a small loophole in the wine laws to make really good wine, but they didn’t use the required grape types, or the required aging methods, and were able to call them Vino de Tavola or Table Wine, the lowest level of quality legally, but the one with the least restrictions. So Antinori added Cabernet to Sangiovese and created Tignanello in 1971, and their cousins grew Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and created Sassicaia in 1968, and these wines and many others soon became recognized as some of the best and most exciting wines in Italy by the 1980’s.
Producers and consumers alike wanted to distinguish these super “table wines” from the ordinary ones, and the name “Super-Tuscan” was soon created, since most of the innovation centered in Tuscany. Another Renaissance?
At any rate, the category grew so quickly and became so popular, generating much higher prices and so many more wines so quickly that the Italian wine governing bodies decided they’d better recognize this serendipitous movement legally. A new category was born in 1992, sometimes called the Goria Law, and named Indicazione Geographica Tipica, or IGT. So Italian-it sounds like a German sneeze or an American expression of disgust (ick!)-didn’t they ask a marketer? It means, roughly, a wine of “typical geographic indication” or “representative of the typical geographic style”. Oy!
In practice, what it means usually is wines from a real appellation where the winemaker decided to use non-permitted grapes or non-permitted proportions of the allowed grapes, or perhaps just a non-permitted aging regimen to create a better wine, and now they have an appellation that while technically fits in the hierarchy just below DOC and above Vino de Tavola, includes some of the finest wines of Italy, or the world, really, if you want to consider wines like Tignanello, Sassicaia, Montevetrano and the like.
The really cool thing though, is that the vast majority run in the 10-12 to 20-25 dollar range, and are full of personality, charm, even complexity and depth. Consider trying any of the following wines for an eye-opening (and wallet-friendly!) experience: Antale Veneto Rosso IGT, Tenute Rubino Marmorelle Rosso IGT, Monteti Giganti Buoni IGT, all reds, or Moris Farms Vermentino IGT, a white. All these run from $13 to $17. Cent’ Anni!