30 Second Wine Advisor: A mouth full of Orvieto

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A mouth full of Orvieto

Years and years ago, on one of my first wine trips to Italy, Mary and I shared a facing train seat with an older gentleman who, until we arrived, had been enjoying solitude and a bottle of wine.

He seemed happy to see us and gladly shared some of the crisp white wine, and he tried to explain to us - even though he spoke no English and we had almost no Italian - about the hilltop city we were passing, an Etruscan-built urbanism so ancient that even the Romans had called it Urbs Vecchio - "the old city."

Now it's called Orvieto, and so is the wine made in the surrounding Umbrian countryside. And like the region, Orvieto wine goes back a long way, all the way to the pre-Roman Etruscans. In the rather florid prose of the Italian Trade Commission's informative English-language website at ItalianMade.com,"Orvieto was once the most celebrated of Italian whites as a semisweet or abboccato wine, praised by the popes, princes and painters who sojourned in the hill town north of Rome with its splendid Cathedral and sweeping views over the Umbrian landscape."

I'm featuring today the 2009 Orvieto "Tragugnano" made by Sergio Mottura, an estate-bottled wine made with organic grapes. It's a three-way blend of 50 percent Procanico (the local name for, and possibly a separate clone of, Trebbiano), and 25 percent each of the varieties Verdello and Grechetto. It's cool-fermented and sees no oak, so the natural varietal flavors come through clearly in a rather rich, mouth-filling and gently aromatic flavor.

It's a good value, food-friendly, and an attractive alternative if you're looking for a change of pace from more customary whites. You'll find my tasting notes below.

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Today's Tasting Report

Sergio Mottura 2009 "Tragugnano" Orvieto ($13.99)


Clear straw color. Attractive aromatics, white fruit and almonds. Rich, full-bodied, tart white fruit is framed by mouth-watering acidity and a substantive but not over-the-top 13.5% alcohol. A whiff of bitter almond persists in a long finish. U.S. importer: Cutting Edge Selections, Mariemont, Ohio. (Sept. 3, 2011)

FOOD MATCH: Its rather full texture and crisp acidity calls for richer fish - swordfish, perhaps - or roast pork or goose. It's fine with flavorful vegetarian fare and made a good match with a ragout of eggplant and tomatoes with a touch of Thai spice. Avoid overdoing the Thai fire, however, which may war with the alcohol in wine to generate a less than pleasant "burn."

VALUE: The low teens is a very good neighborhood for a rich, balanced white of this quality.

WEB LINK: Here's an English-language link to the producer's fact sheet about Mottura Orvieto.

WHEN TO DRINK: It will certainly keep, and may respond with some subtle evolution, to two or three years under good cellar conditions, but it's really meant for reasonably early consumption, not long-term cellaring.

This bottling may prove elusive. Find a few vendors and compare prices for Mottura's Orvieto on Wine-Searcher.com

For more information about distribution, try contacting the importer through this link.

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