Umbria’s secret wines
Umbria is one of the most beautiful regions in Italy and yet waiting to be discovered. Often well known as the “green heart of Italy” the region has verdant, rolling hills dotted with ancient hill-towns – such as Assisi, Perugia and Orvieto,that offer an enchanting window into their Etruscan and Roman pasts.
The region is mostly agricultural and some its famous products include truffles sunflowers and of course wine grapes. Despite its winemaking background, its local wine industry continues to be overlooked by its neighbor to the west, Tuscany.
Many years ago, Umbria’s white wines were famous across Italy, especially the ones from the Orvieto area. These wines were floral and sweet and were held in high esteem by the Vatican’s popes. . But that seems a far time away.
Umbria has close to dozen wine zones (DOC, DOCG & IGT) and while great wine can be found in most of them, there are a few that produce enough amounts to be available on the Canadian market. Out of these zones, the Orvieto DOC, Montefalco DOC and Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG are the most well known. These are the regions that are the most popular to visit and the ones from where you’ll have the best chances at finding wine when you’re back home.
Some of Umbria’s best known producers are actually Tuscan trailblazers such as Antinori, Ruffino and Barone Ricasoli. There are also flying winemakers such as Renzo Cotarella and boutique wineries such as Paolo Bea. Local producers to try as well include historical Lungarotti and car magnate Lamborghini winery.
Antinori’s Orvieto Campogrande ( SAQ #18838, $14.90) is a nice entry level introduction to the whites of the region. This blend of 40% procanico, 40% grechetto, 15% verdello, and 5% drupeggio and malvasia has tropical fruit aromas and it is crisp and fresh with tasty mineral undertones. It is perfect with linguine alle vongole.
For the reds, a reliable producer is Falesco. This is the brainchild of brothers Riccardo and Renzo Cotarella, two well esteemed Italian winemakers. Their rosso Vitiano ( SAQ # 466029, $17.00) is an harmonious blend of traditional and international varieties. Made with with equal parts of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, it has enticing aromas and flavours of ripe red and black berries with a refreshing acidity and supple tannins. It is quite lovely with BBQ sausages and penne with pesto on the side.
So next time that you plan to buy wine, put Umbria in your bucket list.
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