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Orvieto

by Staff Writer - R. Meoki | June 29, 2011

Orvieto is one the most famous Italian wines, in Italy and around the world. Orvieto is usually a dry or semisweet white wine. Orvieto wine has been produced since the Roman Age. Etruscans (members of an ancient people of central Italy whose civilization influenced the Romans) produced a sweet wine famous in the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, after the fall of the Roman Empire, Orvieto became a papal (relating to a pope) monopoly. Orvieto wine became famous and the wine was renamed “the Pope’s wine”. The golden abboccato (wines with little residual sugar, ranging from medium sweet to medium dry) or semi-sweet style, once admired by popes and princes travelling through the area, is still produced and is cherished locally. As tastes and preferences have changed, Orvieto wines have transformed and they are more commonly found as a dry wine with a clean crisp peachy flavor.

Today there are four different types of Orvieto DOC (DOC is a mark that guarantees the quality of a wine):

Orvieto DOC

  • Color: light pale/straw yellow
  • Flavor: soft, pleasant
  • Taste: dry, with a slight bitter aftertaste; or mellow; or sweet

Orvieto is produced in three classes, dry, semi-sweet and sweet. The grapes that are used for the production of Orvieto DOC wine are Procanico, Verdello, Drupeggio, Grechetto and Malvasia. The area where white Orvieto DOC wine is produced includes the towns of Orvieto, Allerona, Alviano, Baschi, Castel Giorgio, Castel Viscardo, Ficulle, Guardea, Montecchio, Fabro, Montegabbione, Monteleone d’Orvieto, Porano (in the province of Terni) and Castiglione in Teverina, Civitella D’Agliano, Graffignano, Lubriano, Bagnoregio (in the province of Viterbo).

The city of Orvieto is of significant historical importance to the region’s economy and wine production has been an integral part of the area since the Etruscans first inhabited the area. Orvieto DOC accounts for eighty percent of area's production.

Orvieto Classico DOC

  • Color: light pale/straw yellow
  • Flavor: soft, pleasant
  • Taste: dry, with a slight bitter aftertaste; or mellow; or sweet

The wine produced in the ancient are of production of Orvieto is Classico. The grapes used to produce Orvieto Classico DOC are Trebbiano, Verdello, Drupeggio, Grechetto and Malvasia. Orvieto Classico DOC is produced in three classes, dry, semi-sweet and sweet.

Orvieto Classico DOC wine is named after one of Umbria's most beautiful cities, located on a hilltop between Florence and Rome. Wine has been made in Orvieto since the days of the Etruscans. They recognized that the region's characteristic tufa (chalky limestone soil) was the perfect type of land for planting grapevines. They were also the first to take advantage of the soft rock by carving out storage cellars beneath the city.

Orvieto Superiore DOC

  • Color: light pale/straw yellow
  • Flavor: soft, pleasant
  • Taste: dry, with a slight bitter aftertaste; or mellow; or sweet

If Orvieto Superiore DOC is produced with a low-yield (which means higher quality) of less than 8.000 Kilos or 17.6 pounds, it is called Superiore. The ordinary production is 11.000 Kilos or 24.2 pounds.

Orvieto Classico Superiore DOC

  • Color: light pale/straw yellow
  • Flavor: soft, pleasant
  • Taste: dry, with a slight bitter aftertaste; or mellow; or sweet

The grapes used are Canaiolo Bianco, Grandchetto, Trebbiano Toscano and Verdello. The blend is typical of the Orvieto Classico areas: Procanico, Grechetto, Verdello, Drupeggio and Malvasia.

Related Topics

Orvietano Rosso or Rosso Orvietano DOC

  • Color: light pale; straw yellow
  • Flavor: soft, pleasant
  • Taste: dry, with a slight bitter aftertaste; or mellow; or sweet

Rosso Orvietano DOC or Orvietano Rosso red wine is very recent. Additional appellations are Bianco di Torgiano, Rosso and Rosato di Torgiano, Chardonnay di Torgiano, Pinot Nero, Pinot Grigio di Torgiano, Riesling italico di Torgiano, Cabernet Sauvignon di Torgiano and Torgiano spumante, produced with the classic bottle method.

Rosso Orvietano DOC is made using Aleatico, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Canaiolo Rosso, Ciliegiolo, Merlot, Montepulciano, Pinot Nero and Sangiovese as the primary grapes; and the secondary grapes include Aleatico, Barbera, Cesanese comune, Colorino and Dolcetto da soli.

Orvieto Food Pairings

In Orvieto, the wine that bears the name of Italy’s most well-known hill town is best known as an aperitif (alcoholic beverage taken before a meal as an appetizer) or a starter wine with a delicate first course.

Suggested food pairings with Orvieto (all variations) are fettuccine alfredo, seafood, pork, lightly smoked meats and cheese, both fresh and aged.

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