Orvieto used to be huge. I still am surprised when younger sommeliers and students don’t recognize the name. In the ’80s, it was one of those bottles that white zin lovers could relate to: innocuous, cheap, and vaguely sweet. On second thought, maybe it’s good they don’t know about it’s sorted past.
Well, its history goes way further back than that. The wines come from the borderland of Umbria and Lazio in Italy, and they date back to pre-Roman times. The Etruscans would harvest the grapes into amphora and store them in caves dug under the volcanic hills, where the grapes would ferment and age through the winter. From the ancient world to the medieval one, it was a famous dessert wine.
These days, though, it’s a dry white wine. The decent bottles are based on the ever-popular Trebbiano grape. The best ones, though, use Trebbiano’s local variant called Procanico along with a healthy dose of Grechetto. The outstanding ones mostly use Grechetto in the blends.
This bottling blends equal parts Grechetto and Procanico along with a bit of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. In the under $15 category, Salviano is one of the best producers. Their property is part of the larger Titignano estate, owned by Marchesa Nerina Corsini Incisa della Rocchetta. Her family is famous in the wine trade: her family is also responsible for the Super Tuscan Sassicaia.
This wine starts with scents of wildflowers and hibiscus and a hint of gunflint. On the palate, it is light and fresh with a lovely bit of fat in the middle. The classic almond note of Trebbiano is in the mix, but it’s subdued. Flavors of peaches and cream take center stage, with a bit of exotic spice and freshly squeezed citrus on the finish.
This is a wine for a summer day. It would be wonderful with a simple salad of grilled zucchini tossed with olive oil and sea salt.