Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Orvieto, dry, medium dry, and sometimes—although increasingly rarely—sweet white wine produced near the medieval hill city of the same name, an important artistic centre during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, is one of Italy’s historically renowned white wines and by far the most important doc in umbria. Within the extensive DOC, partially shared with neighbouring lazio, is a historic classico zone. The vines are grown on tufa and wines come in dry (secco), medium dry (abboccato), medium sweet (amabile), late harvest (vendemmia tardiva), and botrytized (muffa nobile) sweet versions. Due to the proximity of Lakes Corbara and Bolsano, and frequent autumn fogs, Orvieto is one of the very few places in Italy regularly affected by noble rot. The wine is a blend of procanico, a local name for the bland trebbiano Toscano, and the much more characterful grechetto, verdello, malvasia bianca, and the tart drupeggio. Although Orvieto’s reputation has been harmed by over-produced wines based on Procanico, recent changes to the production rules require a higher proportion of Grechetto at the expense of Procanico, while several producers have begun to bottle varietal Grechetto, usefully demonstrating the grape’s potential. While yields of up to 11 tonnes/ha are allowed, the actual average yield hovers around a much more reasonable 60 hl/ha, indicating a trend towards quality rather than quantity. Several producers have begun to produce a single-vineyard Orvieto.