We are off on another Italian Wine Adventure, and this time we bring you a wonderful white wine from Umbria called Orvieto. Wait, what’s that you say? You’ve never heard of Orvieto? Well, we need to change that! Orvieto is a white wine made from a blend of grapes - most predominantly Grechettto and Trebbiano Toscano (aka Procanico and Ugni Bianco) - and that blend of grapes can vary quite a bit! As a result, we found the taste of these wines to be quite different from each other - which is a really fun and exciting experience! One of the wines we thought would be good for the Chardonnay lover, while another we found to be much more of a crisp, refreshing summer sipper. Join us as we learn about this Italian classic, and try to uncover the mystery of a very strangely labled cork - hey, is something nefarious afoot?!? Wines reviewed in this episode: 2021 Ruffino Orvieto Classico, 2022 Bellini Orvieto Classico, and 2021 Roio Orvieto Classico.
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Episode 86: Italian Wine Adventure #8: Orvieto 00:00
Hello! And welcome to The Wine Pair Podcast. I’m Joe, your sommelier of reasonably priced wine, and this is my wife and my wine pairing partner in crime, Carmela. And we are The Wine Pair!
Ok, a quick orientation for those of you who may be new to the podcast - in each episode we learn about, taste and give our brutally honest review of three wines that are reasonably priced - meaning under $20 each - and should be easy for you to find. And our podcast is made for people who want to learn more about wine, find new wines to enjoy, and just want someone to talk about wine in a way that normal people can understand. So, if that sounds like you, you are in the right place! And we are proud to say that we have been featured recently in The Mercury News and we are recommended by the editors of Decanter Magazine who call us fun, irreverent, chatty, and entertaining.
By the way, we just want to call out an email we got from a listener named Donna who, after hearing the latest Costco Kirkland Signature Wine Challenge episode we did on Pinot Grigio, asked if we will review Aldi wines in the future. I wrote her back and let her know that, unfortunately, there are no Aldi stores near us, but we may just have to do a remote episode some time in the future when we are in a state with Aldi stores that sell wine. She also let us know she’s tried a couple, and liked one but poured another down the sink, and that she may try to round a few more up and let us know what she thinks. Thanks, Donna, for reaching out!
By the way, In the next couple of weeks, we will also be doing a Trader Joe’s Private Label Wine review, so be on the lookout for that!
Carmela, first, we are back in the garage. Second, we are going on yet another Italian Wine Adventure, and thankfully for you, we are on a white wine adventure! You love white wine, don’t you? And you love Italian white wine, right?!? But today I have a wine for you that I don’t think either of us have ever had before, so this adventure will be super-duper fun!
I thought we’d give some editorial comments about why we really love these Italian Wine Adventures. And, yes, I am putting Carmela on the spot because I did not tell her we were going to talk about this.
First, we are of Italian heritage, so there’s that. There is just something that feels personal and special about learning about Italian wine. It feels like learning about family. And, as the grandchildren of Italian immigrants, we still feel pretty attached to the food of our homeland, and, as we like to say, Italians call wine the 5th food group.
Second, we love learning, and some of you may have heard us say that we were both school teachers in our past, and so when we go on these adventures, we get to learn new things. Because wines are also about places and history and geography and science and culture, there is just a lot to learn.
And third, there are just a lot of Italian wines to learn about, and each time we try a new wine, we get to expand our palettes, we like to say expand our wine horizons, and it helps us become more knowledgeable about wine, and understand what we like and what we don’t like more. We mentioned this in our last Italian Wine Adventure, but there are something like 300 different Italian wine varietals, so there is a ton to learn!
I will also say that this wine adventure is truly an adventure. As we mentioned a bit ago, I think this is a new wine for us, and we are guessing a new wine for most of you listening, so I am psyched out of my mind to learn a little bit more about this wine called Orvieto, and then we are going to taste and review three of these Orvieto wines . . .
But first . . . we have to do our shameless plug.
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ARTICLES and LINKS
Topic: WTF is Orvieto wine? 09:24
So, let’s set the stage here for this wine adventure. Orvieto the name of a region in Italy, so like a lot of Italian wines and French wines, the wine is named for the region, not the grape.
And, in Orvieto there are two classic grapes used: the Grechetto grape and the Trebbiano Toscano grape. So, Orvieto is a blend. But more about those two grapes and the other grapes used in Orvieto in a minute.
Orvieto is a DOC wine region in central Italy in the region of Umbria, and in Umbria there are two provinces - the province of Perugia and the province of Terino. You may have heard of Perugina candies, and those are from Perugia. Interestingly, Umbria is the only landlocked region in Italy. Did you know that?!? Fun fact!
Orvieto is also a city, and very old area, known to be populated as far back as 900 BC by the Etruscans, and is actually one of only three cities with a papal palace.
Orvieto itself is known as a foodie town, famous for truffle pasta, and, of course, Orvieto wine. On a map, Orvieto is about halfway between Rome and Siena in Tuscany.
As I mentioned before, there are two main grapes used in making Orvieto wine - the Grechetto grape, and the Trebbiano Toscano grape which has several other names, including Procanico and Ugni Blanc. One of the many variations of Trebbiano can also be found in Soave wine, another white wine we have done an adventure on and that we like a lot.
To be called an Orvieto white wine, the wine must obviously be from the Orvieto DOC and be at least 60% Trebbiano Toscano and Grechetto, and the remaining 40% can be made up of a few other white wine grapes allowed in the area, but the most common are Verdehlo, Canaiolo Bianco, and Malvasia Toscana. The final blend can also have a maximum of 15% to 25% Verdello, and up to 20% maximum of Grechetto, Canaiolo bianco (Drupeggio) and/or Malvasia Toscana. The largest volume of grape juice in the wine comes from Trebbiano Toscano.
In the past, the wine was usually a sweet wine that was evidently favored by the Popes, but today the wine is dry, moderately acidic, and generally considered crisp and clean. They do make red wines in Orvieto as well, but about 80% of the wine they produce is white.
There are two classifications for Orvieto white wines - the Classico, which is what we are having today, and which comes from what is considered the most traditional area, and Classico Superiore which just means it needs to be aged a bit longer (4 months) and come from more choice grapes. And all of the wines we are having today are Orvieto Classico.
One of the reasons we are not super familiar with Orvieto is that they just don’t make a ton of it compared to other Italian wines like Pinot Grigio. Also, evidently Orvieto did have a bit of a boom in exporting to places like the US in the 1970’s, but the quality wasn’t awesome, and like Soave, Americans kind of turned off to Orvieto.
But we are single-handedly trying to change that today. At least we think. We haven’t tried the wine yet, BUT we are assuming we will really like it.
So, on that note, I think it’s time to learn a little more about the specific wines we are drinking today. Whaddya say?
ARTICLES and LINKS
Orvieto Wines We Chose for This Episode 16:50
As usual, all of the wines we have chosen for this episode are under $20, and all of them should be relatively easy to find because I bought them all at Total Wine, and at least one of the producers, called Ruffino, is a huge producer of wine. I don’t know that you will find Orvieto at your local wine shop or grocery store unless they have a really good Italian wine section or cater to an Italian customer base.
The first wine we are trying tonight is the Ruffino Orvieto Classico. The Ruffino company is located in Tuscany, so obviously they work with vineyards in the Orvieto area to create this wine. Ruffino you may know as a Chianti producer.
On the Ruffino website, they talk a lot about the soil, which is called tufa, and is basically chalky limestone which comes from volcanic activity, which is pretty common on the Italian peninsula. Because of that limestone-y soil, the taste of stone or chalk will probably come through in the wine.
They are pretty clear about what the blend of the wine is, more than I could find for the other wines, and they say it is 40% Grechetto, 20% Procanico (which is the other name for Trebbiano Toscano), and 40% other white varietals (Verdello, Canaiolo Bianco). So this one is interesting because it is more Grechetto than Trebbiano Toscano, and I have been reading that some newer producers of the wine have been playing around with the mix of Grechetto and Trebbiano where some, like this, are using more Grechetto.
And, by the way, Grechetto is sometimes compared to unoaked Chardonnay or Pinot Gris.
The next wine we are going to drink is the Bellini Orvieto Classico, and this one is a 2022, Bellini is also a large producer from Tuscany, and they are really mostly known for their Chiantis.
I did find the Bellini website, and on the page for the wine they call out the grapes as follows: Trebbiano 50%, Malvasia toscana 10%, Verdello 20%, Grechetto 20%.
They say that they harvest the grapes by hand and they age them for 3 months in stainless steel. Three months is not a long time by any stretch, so I expect these to be pretty lively wines. And they also call out that they are fermented in stainless steel, which I expect all of these wines to be, and this, again, should lead to a crisp and fresh wine.
Like all of these wines, I could not find any professional ratings for these wines, so I guess it is up to us, Carmela, to give these wines their time in the sun.
Ok, so onto our last wine, it is called the Roio Orvieto Classico, and I honestly had a hard time finding out much about this wine. This is one of those Total Wine Winery Direct wines and I just think a lot of times Total Wine just finds a producer of the wines and tells them they’ll buy a bunch of it, and so these are wines that are just otherwise not super easy to find. It makes me a little frustrated with Total Wine, but I know a lot of people buy wine from them, so there you go.
There just is not a lot I can tell you about it other than it is a 2021 and the blend of grapes is Trebbiano, Malvasia, Verdello and Grechetto, but without any clarity on the percentages.
So, there you have it - three Orvieto Classicos from three different producers, so we will have some fun trying these wines for the first time and seeing first what we think of Orvieto and if we can tell much difference from these wines. And then, most importantly, if we would recommend any of them!
On that note, let’s get to drinking! We’ll take a quick break and be right back. And, if you have these wines or similar wines, drink along with us!
ARTICLES and LINKS
Orvieto Wine Pairing Tasting and Reviews 21:45
Wine: Ruffino Orvieto Classico (Click here to find this wine on wine.com. Affiliate link)
Region: Italy, Umbria
Retailer: Total Wine
Grapes: 40% Grechetto, 20% Procanico, 40% other white varietals (Verdello, Canaiolo Bianco)
What we tasted and smelled in this Ruffino Orvieto Classico:
- On the nose: Rock, pebble, peach, soap, flowers, delicate, citrus, pear, a hint of tropical fruit
- In the mouth: Soap, mild, flowers, potpourri, apricot, medium-bodied, not as acidic, a little Hostess Apple Pie filling flavor
Food to pair with this Ruffino Orvieto Classico: Cream pasta, smoked salmon and peas pasta, a fish wine, scallops in butter sauce, lobster in butter sauce, truffle pasta. Good for people who like buttery Chardonnay?
As a reminder on our rating scale, we rate on a scale of 1-10, where 7 and above means that we would buy it, and 4 and below means that we are likely to pour it down the sink, and a 5 or 6 means we are likely to drink it and finish it, but we are probably not going to buy it.
Ruffino Orvieto Classico Wine Rating:
- Joe: 5/10
- Carmela: 7/10
Wine: Bellini Orvieto Classico
Region: Italy, Umbria
Retailer: Total Wine
Grapes: Trebbiano 50%, Malvasia toscana 10%, Verdello 20%, Grechetto 20%
What we tasted and smelled in this Bellini Orvieto Classico:
- On the nose: Sweet, apple cider, citrus, pineapple,a little peach, baking spices
- In the mouth: Tangy, citrusy, apple, lemon, lime juice, Granny Smith apple, summer sipper
Food to pair with this Bellini Orvieto Classico: Spicy food, spicy fish tacos, caesar salad with anchovies, aglio olio pasta, pesto pasta, white pizza, something garlicy
Bellini Orvieto Classico Wine Rating:
- Joe: 7/10
- Carmela: 7/10
Wine: Roio Orvieto Classico
Region: Italy, Umbria
Retailer: Total Wine
Grapes: Trebbiano, Malvasia, Verdello and Grechetto
What we tasted and smelled in this Roio Orvieto Classico:
- On the nose: Gasoline, airplane glue, peach, cotton candy, a little tropical fruit, lemon,
- In the mouth: Lots of lemon, lemon juice, glue on the backend, bitter
Food to pair with this Roio Orvieto Classico: Needs food, charcuterie board, sharp cheese, salty foods, potato chips, olives, pancetta, salty cured meats, pasta with olives or artichokes, cacio e pepe, pesto pasta, Romano cheese
Roio Orvieto Classico Wine Rating:
- Joe: 6/10
- Carmela: 6/10
Which one of these are you finishing tonight?
- Carmela: Ruffino Orvieto Classico
- Joe: Bellini Orvieto Classico
Taste profiles expected from Orvieto 39:50
- Try.vi: tart, fresh white wines with delicate grapefruit, peach, and honeydew melon notes plus a pleasing gentle bitter note
- Wine Folly: aromas of lemon heads, crisp opal apple and strawberries with juicy acidity
- Ruffino Orvieto Classico
- Winery: Aroma: The Orvieto bouquet is distinctive; fruity and flowery with hints of fresh picked meadow flowers, citrus fruits, golden apple, finishing with a mineral touch. Tasting profile: This wine’s smooth, refreshing flavors balance beautifully with its structure and acidity. Orvieto also offers a unique mineral character that comes from the chalky limestone soil called tufa. The finish is long and fragrant, with hints of almond.
- Bellini Orvieto Classico
- The Wine Authority: A light bouquet of citrus and a hint of sparkle make this wine the quintessential aperitif.
- The Winery: The wine has a brilliant straw yellow color with some greenish highlights, it’s limpid and with a medium consistency. The fragrance is characterized by fresh floral notes of jasmine and hawthorn. The citrus fruit has some notes of lime and mandarin. It’s a fresh dry wine, with a perfect alcohol balance and an excellent mineral salts. Persistent in mouth, it has a good intensity and it’s ready to drink.
- Roio Orvieto Classico
- Room Box: this wine is appreciated for its fine perfume and elegance, its pear, apple and cream characterized with a dry finish.
What do you think about Orvieto - is it a go-to?
It will not substitute a Soave or Gavi or Pinot Grigio, but it is pleasant. But it is a wine you have to try!
Outro and how to find The Wine Pair Podcast 42:29
Ok, so, Carmela, it is just about time for us to go, but before we do, we want to thank you very much for listening to us - and if you haven’t done so yet, now would be the perfect time to subscribe to our podcast and also a fantastic time to leave us a nice rating and review on our website or Apple podcasts or other podcast service - and it is an awesome and free way to support us and help us grow listeners.
We would also love to hear from you about a wine you would like us to taste and review. You can, leave a message for us on our website thewinepairpodcast.com, or you can just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about a wine you are curious about, or curious what we think of it. And remember to sign up for our email newsletter on our website, too. And you can follow us on Instagram and Threads so you can see pictures of all of these wines we are tasting and reviewing.
Alright, with that, we are going to sign off, so thanks again, and we will see you next time. And, as we say, life is short, so stop drinking shitty wine.