Friday, May 11, 2012

Barbi Orvieto Classico (2010)

The one wine that best exemplifies Umbria is Orvieto, which is produced from grapes grown around the southern Umbrian commune that shares the same name.  Winemaking in Umbria dates back to the Etruscans, long before the Roman Empire.  They dug out cellars in the ground where the wine could age in cool conditions throughout the year.  From the Middle Ages until very recently, Umbria was known for sweet wines.  However, in recent years, the popularity of wines such as the Orvieto have helped to put the Italian region on the map. Indeed, the Orvieto region has its own DOC, which is devoted exclusively to white wine. 

Historically, Orvieto was one of those sweet wines.  Today, it is produced in a couple of different styles.  Normally, Orvieto wines are dry white wines.   Some vineyards produce an Abbocato, or semi-sweet wine or a Dolce, which is the sweet version.  Orvieto wines are produced with Grechetto and Trebbiano grapes, as well as a few other varietals.  The Barbi Orvieto Classico, which is produced in the Abbocato style, is made from a blend of 45% Trebbiano Toscano, 30% Grechetto, 15% Verdello and 10% Drupeggio and Malvasia.

The Barbi Orvieto Classico pours light gold in color, with little bubbles that form along the bottom of the glass.  Those bubbles suggest an effervescence that is a little deceptive, given the wine does not have any carbonation.  The aromatic elements of the wine suggest floral notes and melon.  The semi-sweet nature of the wine does show through in the aroma, even hinting at a little sugar.

As for the taste, this wine is heavily emphasizes citrus, especially grapefruit.  The Abbocato nature of the wine is clearly evident, with a medium body wrapped with a little sweetness balancing the citrus of the flavor.  The sweetness gives way to a dryness in the finish. 

The semi-sweet nature of the Orvieto Classico makes the wine a good pairing with dishes that have some heat, whether by chiles or other spices, as well as for seafood dishes.  I think this wine could also work well with white meat, such as grilled chicken or grilled  pork.  This wine could also lighten up vegetable and bean dishes, such as an Umbrian style lentil dish.

I found this wine at a local grocery store.  It sells for about $11.00 per bottle.


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