Monday, May 11, 2015

Wild, Wacky & Abboccato

Some wines just require too much effort. Not so much in terms of quaffing them or finishing off the bottle but, definitely, in terms of finding out about the actual wine or winery. I spent far too long looking up this wine and the grape varieties. Admittedly, a healthy chunk of that time was trying to work my way through all the synonyms and different names that a single grape can have in Italy but, in the end, it appears that I get to add four new grape varieties to my Wine Century Club tally.

And, as part of this Wile & Wacky Wine Week, I'm going to count that as a win.

1913.  2012 Barbi Abboccato Orvieto Classico (Orvieto Classico DOC - Umbria - Italy)

I didn't find a whole lot written about the Barbi winery - either on their own website or by others - but I did learn that Barbi is a family owned winery that has been operating in Umbria since 1932. The company's "philosophy leans towards the use of indigenous varietals of central Italy, even though lately, in a couple of wines, two international varietals have been employed." The wine we opened is Italian all the way and is made from Grechetto (40%), Procanico (30%) with Verdello, Drupreggio and Malvasia Bianca filling out the balance.

After multitudinous trips back and forth between my Wine Century Club tally and Jancis Robinson (et al)'s Wine Grapes, I've determined that the only grape that's already represented on my tally is the Procanico - not that I'd have known that. It would appear that Procanico is the local name for Trebbiano Toscano or Ugni Blanc and I added that grape in my original century's worth of grapes.

Grechetto is grown in a number of Italian regions but particularly in Umbria where it is mostly used in blending white wines like this Orvieto Classico. As it is a thick-skinned grape, it tends to be harvested later in the season, allowing higher sugar levels and is often used in the making of dessert wines and Vin Santo. Grechetto tends to be a lower yielding vine as well which can result in more concentrated flavours. Accordingly, the grape is also starting to be seen as having potential for use as a varietal wine and for blending with Chardonnay.

The other three grapes that I can now add to my tally aren't as notable. There are a number of different Malvasia Bianco varieties and I can't confirm which one is used in this blend but it is likely Malvasia Bianca di Candia or Malvasia Bianca Lunga as both are permitted in the regional DOC blends. Both grapes are used almost exclusively for blending though as they are generally found to be quite neutral in flavour profile.

Verdello is, indeed, different from the Portuguese Verdelho grape, and is primarily found in Umbria with only small pockets of plantings elsewhere in the country. The grape is favoured for its high acidity; however, the number of plantings seem to be diminishing and Jancis and team state that "the lack of varietal examples suggest it is less successful on its own," outside of blended wines.

Similarly, Drupreggio is grown primarily as a blending grape. Also grown in Tuscany where it is known as Canaiolo Bianco, other than being a new grape for my list, it doesn't appear have much of a following or be much of winemaker's grape of choice.

The name "Abboccato," as seen on the label, apparently means that the wine is meant to be slightly off-dry. We didn't really notice much in the way of residual sugar however.

As a whole, Italian whites don't generally knock my socks off. For the most part, I find them rather bland and often flabby in their lack of acidity. While this wasn't totally lacking in flavour profile, it's not one to turn my head and make me say, "I should really be on the lookout for more Italian whites."

It is good to be able to add grapes 183 through 186 to my tally though and I'm happy with that.

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