Until recently, the name ‘Prosecco’ was used to designate any sparkling wine produced in Italy using the Glera grape. With Prosecco being so widely produced, the quality of the wine was very variable, so in 2009 regulations were introduced to protect the quality and reputation of Prosecco.
The 2009 DOC and DOCG laws limit Prosecco production to two small zones in an area historically celebrated for its exceptional Prosecco. For a sparkling wine to be called ‘Prosecco’, every stage of its production process must occur within the DOC/DOCG zone, in Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Just outside the DOC and DOCG zones is the IGT zone, where the quality of the wine is more variable and producers must call their sparkling wine ‘Glera’ (after the grape variety) rather than ‘Prosecco’.
The DOCG zone is distinguished from the DOC zone by its terroir, which is widely considered to encourage superior Prosecco production. It is therefore more closely protected by the law: Prosecco DOCG is subject to further quality controls as a way of guaranteeing its superior quality, and must be tasted by a committee of government officials before receiving a seal of approval (you will notice these seals on the cork-end of bottles of Prosecco DOCG). The DOCG zone comprises the hills surrounding Cartizze, Conegliano Valdobbiadene, and Il Rive.
These DOC and DOCG appellations are used across Italy, and their aim is to assure the quality, authenticity and reputation of local specialities such as wines, cheeses and sausages. The DOC and DOCG laws are designed to protect both producers and consumers: by limiting Prosecco production, producers are able to secure a premium for their high-quality wine, without having to compete against the low prices of large-scale industrial production. This is a way of ensuring the continued prosperity of rural communities, and it also guarantees consumers access to top-quality, authentic, traditional produce.