Friday, May 6, 2022

Orvieto, Italy's Classic White Wine

You’re in for a treat this month as our Italian Food, Wine and Travel (#ItalianFWT) group highlights the wines of the Orvieto wine appellation in Umbria.  When I had an opportunity last year to taste through a number of these wines for a virtual wine tasting I knew it would be a great theme when deciding themes with the group for 2022.  Luckily, we partnered with the Consorzio Tutela Vini Orvieto to sample a number of wines across their terroir to share with you today.  

The Area ~ Orvieto

Umbria is a region in central Italy that is just to the east of Tuscany and is the only landlocked region throughout all of Italy.  The town and wine appellation, Orvieto, is located in the southwestern edge of Umbria bordering the region of Lazio.  If you’ve never been to Umbria it’s a must.  It’s known as the green heart of Italy due to its lush forests and hills.  Within these landscapes are black truffle treasures and olive oil groves.  Folks always think to flock to Tuscany, but with only about 1/3 of the population of Tuscany you can find much peace among such beauty. 

Terroir and map of Orvieto wine region
The Etruscans and Umbri were the first to make wines in Orvieto.  The Etruscans built this hilltop town with caves dug out underground through the tufo landscape.  If you visit the area you can visit a museum in town and get to experience these underground caves and ancient artifacts.  The Duomo located in town is the focal point built in the 14th century of beautiful tufo and travertine marble. 

Tufo in Orvieto
Orvieto wines were famous throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance time period.  I was shocked to learn that during the 1930’s the wines of Orvieto were even priced higher than those of Barbaresco!  Unfortunately the area experienced a 300 year of economic decline.  Once the mezzadria was abolished in the 1960s, the area experienced an influx of people from all over Italy that began to buy land and establish wine estates. 

The climate of Orvieto is continental and there are many waterways that influence the area including Lago Corbara and Lago Bolsena on the Lazio side.  There is also the 3rd longest river in Italy, the Tevere, that has many tributaries running off of it including Paglia that run through the area.  

Soils and terroir of Orvieto vineyards
Marine sedimentary clay and sand soils

Soils and terroir of Orvieto
Shells in the soils of Orvieto

The Orvieto DOC

The Orvieto DOC was established in 1971 and regulates the wines of the area are made from only white wines.  They are red wines and sparkling wines that exist in Orvieto, but are not allowed to be bottled under the Orvieto DOC.  The designated land is mostly within Umbria, but a small piece crosses over into Lazio.  Although, the majority of the wine is made in the historic part of Orvieto in the Orvieto Classico area.  Two cooperatives dominate the production of the area by 70% with smaller wine estates on the rise.

The primary grapes that make up the white wines of Orvieto are Grechetto di Orvieto, Grechetto di Todi and Procanico.  Orvieto DOC wines must contain at least 60% of these grapes.  The remaining 40% can include some of the secondary grapes including Verdello, Drupeggio and Malvasia along with international grapes including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino.  The Orvieto white wines can vary from dry, off-dry (abboccato), late harvest (amabile and dolce) to muffa nobile known also as noble rot (dolce). 

The Wines

Unfortunately, when it comes to sharing the wines I received I have to postpone until hopefully next week.  I came down with a nasty virus Monday night that left me couch bound for a couple days and then finished with losing my senses on Friday.  Not the best situation for tasting wine. Make sure to check back in for updates to not miss out.

Join the rest of our writers as they delve into the wines of Orvieto with some suggested pairings.  We’d love to have you join our live Twitter chat this Saturday at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT.  Hope to see you there!

  • Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm will be sharing “Umbrian Red Wine Spaghetti and a Book Review."
  • Liz at What‘s In That Bottle is wondering “Why Aren’t we all Drinking more Orvieto?
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles will be writing about “Orvieto - the multifaceted white wine of Umbria."
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest will be focusing on “Appreciating an Ancient Italian Wine Made For Today’s Palate.”
  • Camilla at The Culinary Adventures of Camilla is “Celebrating Spring with Vignole + 2020 Barberani Castagnolo Orvieto Classico Superiore."
  • Lisa at The Wine Chef is pairing “Umbria’s Famous White Wine, Paired With Spiced Pork Tenderloin.”
  • Nicole at The Somm's Table will be featuring “Easy Springtime Dinners with Orvieto."
  • Pinny at Chinese Food & Wine Pairings is uncovering “Orvieto White Wines - Hidden Treasures From Umbria.”
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass is writing about “White wines from the heart of Central Italy.”
  • Susannah at Avvinare will be “Getting reacquainted with an old friend: Orvieto Wines.”
  • Rupal at Syrah Queen is sharing "The Soulful and Unique Wines of Orvieto."
  • Gwendolyn at Wine Predator...Gwendolyn Alley is aiming to "Discover the Green Heart of Italy: Orvieto DOC in Umbria."
  • Terri at Our Good Life is pairing "Slow Cooker Short Ribs and Elicius Orvietano Rosso: A Match Made in the Heavenly Stars."
  • Our host, Jen at Vino Travels, shared "Orvieto, Italy's Classic White Wine"
  • I want to send a big thank you to Enzo Barbi and Tanya Morning Star Darling for their collaboration with this event and the wines and information they have shared with us to share with you. For a look into the Orvieto wines from my prior tasting follow here, "What you need to know about the Wines of the Orvieto DOC" and "Meet the Producers of Orvieto".

    *These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.  All pictures are copyright of Tanya Morning Star Darling.


    1. Informative post, Jen. Hope your sense of smell returns soon so you can share your thoughts on these wines. Thanks for hosting and organizing samples!

    2. Thank YOU for hosting, Jen. And thank you, too, for arranging the samples. I loved learning about the region.

    3. Thank you so much for hosting Jen! This was a fantastic exploration of Orvieto. I hope you are feeling better and look forward to reading your take on the wines!