European quality labels for agri-food products

The PDO and DOCG quality labels are certifications awarded by the European Union to guarantee food safety and the geographic origin of products, as well as to protect the environment and traditional preparation methods.

P.D.O. Protected Designation of Origin

The PDO label is awarded by the European Union to products whose steps of production, transformation and processing take place in a certain geographic area, in accordance with techniques recognized by local producers and using ingredients from the reference region. The characteristics of such products essentially or exclusively depend on their geographic origin. PDO products must comply with stringent rules set forth in product specifications and must also bear the PDO logo shown here below.

DOCG Controlled and Warranted Designations of Origin

The DOCG label is awarded to wines which are almost always regulated by extremely stringent specifications, characterized by a precisely delimited geographic area, often also distinguished by subareas which must be specified on the label. In the case of DOCG wines, all necessary product information is provided, including: permitted grape varieties, sensory characteristics of the product, vinification rules, maximum yield per hectare, production areas, bottling and wine production regulations as well as various rules for correct vinification.

Background
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TOP TALES: the four guaranteed products

Barolo DOCG, Barbaresco DOCG, Fontina PDO and Baraggia Rice PDO are perfect examples of the meaning and essence of quality regimes for agri-food production in the European Union. The protagonists of a Program co-funded by the European Commission which aims to reinforce the competitiveness, recognizability and consumption of quality European agri-food products on the USA and China markets.

The great Italian wine par excellence is obtained exclusively from Nebbiolo grapes. It originates from the heart of the Langa hills, a few kilometers from the city of Alba, in an area consisting of 11 municipalities characterized by suggestive hilly landscapes, chiseled by the expert hand of mankind and guarded by imposing Medieval castles. What has since become a world-acclaimed wine is named after none other than Barolo castle.

Barolo DOCG

The great Italian wine par excellence is obtained exclusively from Nebbiolo grapes.

It originates from the heart of the Langa hills, a few kilometers from the city of Alba, in an area consisting of 11 municipalities characterized by suggestive hilly landscapes, chiseled by the expert hand of mankind and guarded by imposing Medieval castles. What has since become a world-acclaimed wine is named after none other than Barolo castle.

Production area

La Morra, Monforte, Serralunga d’Alba (with its military fortress towering amidst the hills), Castiglio Falletto (the round towers belong to what is still a privately owned manor), Novello and Grinzane Cavour are all central municipalities of the Barolo area. Parts of Verduno, Diano d’Alba, Cherasco and Roddi (with its castle currently under restoration) are also included in the area.

Characteristics

The “king of wines, the wine of kings” emerged from the close ties between the intrinsic qualities of wine and noble 19th century tastes. It is full and intense ruby red in color, with an aroma that is both fruity and spicy. Its aroma and flavor carry notes which are redolent of small red fruits, cherries in spirit and preserve, along with hints of wilted rose and violet, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, vanilla and sometimes even liquorice, cocoa, tobacco and leather. It must age for at least 3 years, one and a half of which in oakwood, and at least 5 years to be labeled “Reserve”.

Already pleasant after 4-6 years, it culminates after 10 years of aging and remains excellent even after 20 or more years. Obviously this all depends on the vintage, which can be perfect or unlucky, as was notoriously the case in 1977, when the decision was made not to produce Barolo, or 2002, when rain and hail put serious pressure on the experience of wine makers.

There are numerous opportunities for savoring Barolo in its native land: the “Strada del Barolo” is a route lining several producers; Botteghe Comunali in Serralunga, Diano d’Alba, Castiglion Falletto; the Municipal Cellar of La Morra, the Grinzane Cavour Winehouse (with its central panorama of the area) and the Barolo Winehouse which will soon be home to a Wine Museum of immense value. Other locations, including private properties, are dotted throughout the Municipalities; vineyards are also increasingly welcoming visitors. This is why the Piemonte On Wine service has been created, described in the Local Networks chapter.

Barbaresco DOCG

Barbaresco is one of the most famous wines in Italy and in the world: together with Barolo it is the main red of the Langhe made of Nebbiolo grapes.

Elegance is the trademark of Barbaresco. It is a noble and austere red, especially in its Riserva version, boasting a remarkable longevity. Single vineyards have been identified over the last few years, veritable crus which bring Barbaresco to life with unique organoleptic properties.

Production area

The production area includes the entire lands of the Municipalities Barbaresco, Treiso, Neive and part of the Alba Municipality.

Characteristics

Barbaresco is obtained exclusively from Nebbiolo and presents itself with an intense, bright color ranging from crimson to ruby red, along with a stimulating bouquet of aromas that are fruity yet ethereal, redolent of raspberry and red fruit preserve, geranium and violet, as well as green pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, hay, wood, toasted hazelnut, vanilla and even aniseed. It must age for at least two years, one of which in oakwood, and four years to be labeled “Reserve”.

It achieves its finest between 5 and 10 years but it can also be very long-lived. Both traditional and other products characterized by a more international interpretation are present on the market, aged in small barriques. The production area includes the entire lands of the Municipalities Barbaresco, Treiso, Neive and part of the Alba Municipality. It is made by small wine producers, prestigious cooperatives and world-renowned companies of excellence. Most wines bearing this denomination are available for tasting at the Regional Winehouse in Barbaresco.

Fontina DOP

Fontina PDO is the food product which symbolizes the Aosta Valley.

The protected designation of origin cheese Fontina PDO is characterized by its milky aroma, unmistakably sweet flavor and a soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture.

Production area

The production area of Fontina PDO is located within the autonomous region of the Aosta Valley.

Production method

Unpasteurized whole milk is used within a few hours from milking. Milk is never heated to beyond 36°C and is coagulated with veal rennet. The curd is broken up into pieces the size of corn grains before being heated for around half an hour up to 48°, to favor coagulum drainage. After this phase, which is called coagulation, the cheese is left to rest for 10 minutes before being placed into special molds containing a casein plate with the product’s progressive number. It is then pressed for around 12 hours, during which time the mold is continuously turned. Before being turned one last time, the identification mold of Consorzio Tutela Fontina (DTF) is applied, which also contains a producer identification code, printed onto the flat side of the cheese. It is then salted and left to mature in natural, humid and cold caves for at least three months.

Appearance and flavor

Fontina PDO has a compact and thin crust that is more or less intense brown in color, according to age. The semi-cooked cheese is soft and elastic with characteristic holes dispersed throughout; it melts in the mouth. Its color ranges from ivory to more or less intense straw yellow. Its flavor is sweet and delicate. Here below is an image of the Fontina PDO label present on cheeses, a symbol of authenticity and recognizability.

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Baraggia Rice DOP

The first and only Italian PDO rice, Baraggia Biellese and Vercellese rice PDO is a product with truly unique qualitative and nutritional characteristics which express the indissoluble bond with its land of origin.

Production area

The land of Baraggia Biellese and Vercellese is located in the foothills along the north-eastern border of Piedmont, in the Vercelli and Biella provinces, from the Prealps of Monte Rosa sloping down to sea level along a series of terraces. To the west it is delimited by the morainic relief Serra d’Ivrea, of glacial origin, and to the east by the Sesia river. Its lands are generally rich in clay, compact, asphyxial and poor in humus, Crops are irrigated by channeling streams and rivers which descend from the Alps and Prealps: the Sesia river which descends from the Monte Rosa glaciers, the minor rivers Cervo and Elvo, along with other streams which flow from the Prealps and three dams on the Ostola, Ravasanella and Ingagna streams. These waters, channeled by hydraulic engineering, carry elements which nourish and characterize the varieties of Baraggia rice, unique in terms of quality and organoleptic properties.

The climate is aerated and fresh due to the nearby hills and mountains. In Baraggia, average temperatures from April to July, the period during which rice ripens, are lower than in the plains of Vercelli, Novara and Pavia. Temperature inversions are also frequent, favored by winds which descend from the mountains. These climatic conditions mean that grains of rice form faster during ripening, resulting in a smaller size and lower yield, but also in the greater compactness of cell tissues and therefore excellent consistency, palpable in the quality of the rice.

Characteristics

In terms of culinary properties, Baraggia rice distinguishes itself due to its greater cooking resistance and for its remarkable ability to absorb flavors and condiments. The history of rice farming in Baraggia is centuries-old and the diversity of rices selected from the end of the nineteenth century was described for decades in the Giornale di Risicoltura. The particular soil and climate conditions which constitute the terroir of Baraggia confer unique and excellent qualities upon rice. Stringent and concrete product specifications guarantee the product and its ties with the land.

Varieties

There are different varieties of PDO rices. The following are recommended for risottos:

  • CARNAROLI: with its large and pearled grain;
  • ARBORIO: slightly squared grain with a generous central pearl;
  • BALDO: the only crystalline Italian rice, namely without a pearl;
  • S. ANDREA: a smaller grain compared to traditional risotto rices.

Other Baraggia rices include:

  • LOTO: rather large, oval-shaped grain;
  • BALILLA: round and pearled grain, small in size, becomes soft when cooked;
  • GLADIO: thin, needle-like grain.
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European quality at the table

For you we have selected simple and delicious recipes to savor PDO products.
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