It's My DOC in a Box

 


I may be the only one harping on the Italian Agricultural Ministry's decision to allow wines graded DOC to be “bottled” in the fairly ubiquitous bag-in-a-box container but I think it will have a significant impact on the way the Italian's present and sell their wines.

The first notion that needs to be dispelled is that the DOC wines in question will be of higher quality and uniqueness than the currently available IGT wines available in alternative containers. There are vast swaths of Italy dedicated to the production of everyday, easy drinking wines that have long been sold in such boxes and I doubt the consumer will be fooled into thinking that Pinot Grigio Frilui Grave DOC will be superior to Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie IGT. The difference is that some oft maligned and undersung DOCs will now have a chance to shine in the market where their bottle offerings no longer compete on price and quality.
Here are my picks for the potential winners and losers (with a note of caution):

Winner: I'd like to see regions like the Oltrepò Pavese raise their game by putting some of their more unique still wine offerings in box. The Oltrepò is a region that has not much to lose in its mid-tier offerings and precious little high end wine to protect. I can envision a day when white Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero Bianco) in a 3L box is standard fair at any BBQ or picnic. What consumers may not take a chance on in bottle they may just take a look at in box. Lower the per-liter price through packaging and not quality reductions and you may have a winner. This region also has oceans of easy drinking Barbera that would look handsome in cardboard.

Loser: Multi-disciplinary and tiered production zones may suffer from a reputation hit. While the image of box wine is on the upswing right now (along with the quality) there are still many sectors that look down upon the category. The box is denied to wines labeled DOCG, riserva, superior or tagged with a sub-zone, but what consumer is going to make this distinction? Chianti is usually a good example for these cases but even lowly Chianti DOCG is box exempt. However, Italy provides plenty of regions where the quality spectrum is very broad within DOC confines. Valpolicella DOC is such a zone and begs the question, will consumers stop paying attention to the classico or superior versions if a large amount of generic Valpolicella DOC becomes available in box? We will have to wait and see.

Caution: To all Italian producers looking to dump wines on the international market by leveraging the new freedom to box DOCs. What people want most of all from a glass of wine is simple enjoyment at a fair price. The aspirational and the geek markets are fun to play in but they represent a tiny fraction of the wine made and consumed. Here is an opportunity to show what legions of tourist already know, that local wine based on indigenous varieties can provide an extremely satisfying experience. Don't box up that Italian Chardonnay that isn't selling and for the love of momma please don't start shipping Montepulciano up from Puglia to sell as Sangiovese from Tuscany – you know who I am talking to. Give us clean and honest wines - show me the Dolcetto and the Asprinio, the Grillo and the Teroldego. This is an opportunity to raise awareness of lesser known growing regions, so don't blow it on a grape-grab that is bound to fail.

Robert Scibelli is a lecturer and administrator at New York's premier wine school, International Wine Center.


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Comments

  • Snooth User: Philip James
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    1 12,549

    I hope i'm not the only person to catch the (intended?) reference to the Justin Timberlake saturday night live music video. Well, i laughed hard at that one…

    Aug 22, 2008 at 12:48 PM


  • Snooth User: Mark Angelillo
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2 6,353

    Yes 10/10 points for that pun.

    Aug 26, 2008 at 9:41 AM


  • Carmel Mizrachi Wines

    Carmel Mizrachi Wines

    The revolution is not just occurring in the wine making arena, it is happening at out dinner tables. Wine has had a tendency to carry with it a stigma of elitism and snobbery. This is particularly true for countries like the United States that are unfa…

    Aug 28, 2008 at 11:25 AM


  • Snooth User: Adam Levin
    Hand of Snooth
    77280 1,757

    Hi Paolo,
    What is the name of your winery? It would be great to get your wines on Snooth. There's some information at http://www.snooth.com/partners/winery that you should read.
    Snooth is an international site, so even if you do not have distribution in the US, you can still list your wines for our Italian users.

    Sep 05, 2008 at 2:42 AM


  • Hi everybody from Italy,

    My name is Paolo Carlo Ghislandi, this is my first post in smooth, I'm a little winery owner in piedmont, Italy where I produce high quality DOC only wines.
    The Bag-in-box introduction in the wine making process cause different reaction in Italy.
    We everybody know there are many differences in quality of wines in to the same DOC or DOCG.
    I think Bag in box for DOC is another way to reduce the importance of DOC.
    DOC means quality, or not ?
    So, the day I'll see a drop of DOC wine in Bag in box, I will delete and erase “DOC” from all my glass bottle of high quality wine !
    This decision means that DOC & DOCG aren't a warranty of quality !
    The truth is that little winery makes high quality and they don't need DOC or DOCG, and they don't want to put excellent wine in a bag in box !
    Big producer with million of bottles to sell needs to have appellation such DOC or DOCG and low cost packaging for the mass market.
    Good and high quality wines don't' need DOC or DOCG to be excellent, don't' they ?

    ( Sorry for my English )

    Paolo

    Sep 05, 2008 at 9:48 AM


  • Snooth User: oceank8
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    55708 2,029

    Welcome to snooth! I think people will drink great wine no matter what it's in. I do feel that bagged wine is not very appealing and only big name wineries can get away with it right now.

    Are your wines on snooth? What are they?

    Sep 05, 2008 at 9:52 AM


  • Snooth User: oceank8
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    55708 2,029

    I'd love to get your website as well. Small things is what a lot of us look for!

    Sep 05, 2008 at 10:02 AM


  • Thanks for the wellcome,

    So, i hope nobody will try to store for years a bag in boxed wine in its wine cellar ;-)

    My wines are not on snooth yet, i think may be not so elegant i make it myself but i have a website.

    They are all based on most native variety of grapes in piedmont.

    We have Barbera doc, Barbera Superiore, Barbera Riserva, Cortese, Timorasso, Freisa di Chieri, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Albarossa ( Nebbiolo ) …

    We made wines as CRU, trying to obtain new kinds of wines, modern , elegant, very important !

    All labels are at minimum 85/°° at international wine contests

    I love my wines as i love my childs

    Bye
    Paolo

    Sep 05, 2008 at 10:42 AM


  • Snooth User: Adam Levin
    Hand of Snooth
    77280 1,757

    DOC News
    http://www.decanter.com/news/267092.html

    Sep 08, 2008 at 1:49 AM


  • Hi Adamlevin,
    the name of my winery is Cascina I Carpini.
    Thank's for your help introducing me and my wines on snooth.

    Hi oceank8,
    My website is here : http://www.cascinacarpini.it
    I think it's better i update the english version as soon as possible.
    Please, take a look and tell me what do you think about it.

    Paolo

    Sep 08, 2008 at 5:15 AM


  • Snooth User: oceank8
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    55708 2,029

    Site looks nice! I like the pictures of the vineyard, very pretty. I saw you have Barbera, we love that.

    Sep 08, 2008 at 9:38 AM


  • Thanks, it is self made ( as you can see.. ).
    Tomorrow i'll upload the updates in english version so you can see the news
    Barbera is my favourite ever.
    If you like vineyard pictures you'd love this from Harvest 2007 : http://www.vinix.it/gallery/slide.p...

    Paolo

    Sep 08, 2008 at 12:14 PM


  • Hi everybody,
    I'm happy to say to you that i have updated the product catalogue in English version on http://www.cascinacarpini.it
    I know what Mike Tommasi write about “DOC revolution “, i will post something asap.

    Paolo

    Sep 09, 2008 at 12:58 PM


  • I just cannot see it in boxes or bags as the bottle is pure class. Most glass bottles are recycled.

    Jan 07, 2010 at 10:25 AM


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