Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lost Lands - Barbi Orvieto Classico "Abboccato" 2012

Orvieto is an Italian DOC that I pretty much gave up on years ago. The wines were frequently disappointing, with thin, vapid textures and dull, uninteresting fruit. Then this past May, we spent a week in a beautiful restored farmhouse in the Orvieto zone, about a half hour from the incredible hilltop city of the same name. Our hosts provided us with 6 bottles of the local juice that they had bottled for them by a local winery. Well after almost 24 hours of travel, I can't tell you how good that local white tasted. At first I thought it was the location effect - that being in a special place will make everything taste great. But a couple of days later, that wine tasted just as good as it did that first night.

 The view from Orvieto looking northwest

So when we returned home, I went looking for some Orvietos to see if the quality revolution had indeed influenced this Italian region as well. The Orvieto DOC straddles Umbria and Lazio and has a Classico zone centered around the hilltop city and the terrain to the east. The soils that are comprised of compacted volcanic ash and bedrock contribute to the mineral nuances in the aromas and flavors that some of these wines express. The main grapes are Grechetto and Trebbiano, which together must make up at least 60% of the blend.

The Barbi 2012 Abboccato is a blend of 40% Grechetto, 30% Procanico (which is another name for the local Trebbiano), and the rest Drupeggio, Malvasia and Verdello. The "Abbaccato" on the label actually means that this is a demi-sec or off-dry wine with approximately 11 grams of residual sugar per liter. It sure didn't taste that way. It's got beautiful ripe pear and peach aromas, lots of lush, sweet fruit in the middle that feature those same orchard fruits as well as secondary notes of orange peel, almond and minerals. The zingy acidity on the back end enables this great little wine to drink more like a dry white than the off-dry designation would lead you to believe. Fermented entirely in stainless, this surprising little gem cost me a mere $9.99. Imported by Omniwines, NY.

There are some folks out there on the web that claim that there are no wines selling for under $20 that are any good. I couldn't possibly disagree any more and this awesome little wine is just one more piece of evidence to the contrary. Cheers!