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The white wines of Umbria

Updated: Dec 15, 2018


It has been quite a long time since we last spoke. I travelled to the US for the last few weeks. I had the opportunity to taste and learn about new wines from California.


Lets close the blog about Umbria. After Sagrantino and the Sangiovese based reds which are truly a great representation of what Umbria can offer , lets switch now to its white wines. That means continuing the Journey to Orvieto and Corbara lake. I had the opportunity to walk through this quaint medieval towns just one year ago in November 2017.


There are few white only appellations in Umbria, such as Spoleto DOC, which is the most recent one. Created in 2011 to protect and regulate the production of the promising Trebbiano Spoletino.



Though Trebbiano Spoletino was known already in the nineteenth century, it is not clear if this variety is native to the countryside of Perugia, where it grows today, or if it was brought to Umbria from elsewhere. This variety has met with huge popularity in Umbria in the last ten years, and as is all too often the case, suddenly many estates started churning out their own version of Trebbiano Spoletino wine, or drastically increased their existing production to large numbers of bottles.




I can safely say that no two Trebbiano Spoletino producers have grapes that look alike-or to be kind, there seems to be a very large intravarietal variability with this grape, especially among the older vines. I have tasted some grapes (and wines) that are downright aromatic, almost Gewürztraminer-like, while most others are neutral, so my feeling is that a lot of homework still needs to be done on the subject.


So far, wines have ranged from fresh and lemony, with sauvignonesque characters, to unctuous and alcoholic, with a few even sporting aromatic notes, much like a moscato bianco.



Made from Trebbiano Spoletino grapes and aged on the lees in stainless steel vats for around five months. The wine has a bold, straw color with green reflections and a clear bouquet with notes of hazelnut, a balsamic veil and scents of yellow flowers and licorice. The mouthfeel is nicely upheld by a salty acidity and it has a medium texture with an intense and flavorful finish.



Grape varietal: Trebbiano Spoletino 100%, from massale selection of the best old Trebbiano Spoletino vines, grown according to the vine training system between maple trees. Yield per hectare: 50 hL / ha. First vintage: 2007. Vineyard: situated on a hill at an altitude of 350 m a.s.l.; western exposure; training system Guyot. Harvest: generally in the second half of October; the grapes are hand-picked. Vinification: skin contact maceration, soft pressing, static cold clarification; fermentation in 25 hL oak barrels without temperature control. Ageing: on fermentation lees for 6 months; then in the bottle for 4 months. Tasting notes: intense straw yellow colour tending to gold. A nose of intense and persistent impact, fruity and floral; one recognises almond and hawthorn blossom, citrus and tropical fruit with a slightly spicy finish. On the palate it is structured and very tasty. With a full acidic structure, typical of Trebbiano Spoletino, and merges into a perfect and amazing balance with the other elements. Excellent persistence and taste-olfactory agreement. Accompanies: quality pork cold cuts such as prosciutto ham and culatello, terrines and carpaccio. Serve with first course fish dishes, spaghetti carbonara, saffron risotto or with main dishes such as rich fish stews and English-style rare roast beef. Excellent with aged semi-hard cheeses. Best period for drinking: it is a wine that can be consumed immediately, but continues to age in the bottle for several years.  Serving temperature: 12 -14°C. (53.6 - 57.2°F). Sizes: 750 mL bottle and 1.5 L magnum in a wooden case.





TODI DOC


Todi is a beautiful Medieval town. It is considered the home for Grechetto di Todi and is celebrated for the wines from its native grape.


However the truly most known white wine in Umbria is the Grechetto di Orvieto. Orvieto long and rich dates back to the etruscans , in fact it was one of the most important Etruscans cities , but back then it was known as Velzna. The wines produced here were among the favorite by the Popes. The original wines were described as Golden in color, intensely perfumed , prickly and with a characteristic soft sweetness that made them highly valued.

Drier wines began to appear in the second half of the 19th century and gradually became the dominant wine style.


ORVIETO DOC


This Appellation is by far the largest and most productive Umbrian DOC. It covers over 1500 Hectars and makes over 15 million bottles of wine each year. The rules are that Grechetto and Procanico ( Trebbiano Toscano) must account for 60% of the total blend. The best wines are made from the highest percentage of Grechetto. Orvieto DOC produces also the only regulated noble rot ( botrytized) wine.

It is difficult to pin down a single style of Orvieto. The large number of producers and sheer volume of wine produced coupled with diverse soils and flexible blending recipes results in a wide array of styles. Grechetto di Orvieto makes uncomplicated, light-bodied, lemony wines that are easygoing, with hints of white flowers, chamomile, lime, and yellow apples, with generally high acidity. When the product of high yields, wines are tart and neutral and hold little interest. Grechetto di Orvieto’s thick skins and loosely packed, sparse bunches mean it can be used to make the late-harvest, noble-rot-affected wines that Orvieto was once particularly famous for. Finding a monovarietal Grechetto di Orvieto wine is not easy but may well be the way of the future now that more is known about the grape’s lineage and genetics.


This end our few Blogs on Umbria. Although originally well known for their white wines, today definitely Umbria is known for their well structured and ample red wines , especially from Sagrantino. Try some of these wines if you can.


Salute





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