After a frenzy of new DOCG’s, many of them granted for less than serious wines in less than serious styles (think sweet, red and sparkling), Italy’s 74th DOCG, or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, has been announced. Piedmont’s Nizza DOCG is official. The Consorzio Tutela Vini d’Asti del Monferrato agreed to elevate the Nizza subzone of Barbera d’Asti DOCG. With the endorsement of government committees in Rome and Brussels, this DOCG is effective with the 2014 harvest.
Nizza is in the Monferrato hills. These and the neighboring Langhe hills, home to Barolo and Barbaresco DOCG’s, are nestled between the Riviera and the Alps. While Asti in the center of Monferrato is famous for Moscato d’Asti, and Alba in the Langhe is known both for the famous white truffle, Tartufo Bianco d’Alba and its famous Nebbiolo-based wines, Nizza is making wine from the Barbera grape. This workhorse grape covers 35% of Piemonte and its wines are typically deeply fruity and highly pigmented with fresh natural and often biting acidity. Yet since the 1980’s dozens of producers have experimented with barrique aging for more serious wines. Many of those resulting wines, however, lost their freshness, finesse, and food-friendliness. The Nizza DOCG aims to showcase serious, balanced, expressive Barbera from only the finest years.
Nizza DOCG is with the Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG, but will require stricter selection from 18 communes in Asti rather than 160 in Asti and Alessandria, longer oak aging, higher minimum alcohol, and, for its Riserva designation, 100% Barbera as opposed to 90%. The new ruling allows for screw-caps, giving these wines a broader reach into the Asian and North American markets.
In years where Nizza Barbera growers cannot achieve the higher alcohol level, they may still bottle the wine as Barbera d’Asti DOCG, Barbera del Monferrato Superiore DOCG, or Barbera del Monferrato DOC, Monferrato DOC or Piemonte DOC.
While the EU would like Italy to align its DOC’s and DOCG’s into its DOP category, Federdoc’s executive director has stated the Italian government is allowed and will continue granting them.
For more information on Nizza DOCG, check out Italian Wine Central’s latest commentary and learn more about the Italian Wine Professional program that San Francisco Wine School is launching with them - http://italianwinecentral.com/interview-with-nizza-producers/.
Also check out the associazone produttori del nizza at - http://www.ilnizza.net/.
© Copyright 2014 Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, Planet Grape LLC. All Rights Reserved.