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WSET Diploma: Unit 3: Italy > Umbria > Flashcards

Flashcards in Umbria Deck (28)
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Climate similar to Tuscany, but inland, so no moderating influence from the sea.


Orvieto DOC

Similar to the tuff eau limestone of Vouvray. Main variety is Procanico (sub variety of Trebbiano) blended with Grechetto, Malvasia and Verdello. Range of styles from traditional sweet, through to dry. Wines are crisp, refreshing, but neutral, the best show crisp apple characters.


Sagrantino di Montefalco DOC

Sagrantino produced in Montefalco. Local variety, historically tannic and rustic, responds well to modern, careful wine making.



Fourth smallest of italy’s 20 regions in terms of both physical size and population (see map under italy), and one of the country’s very few landlocked regions. It shares many geological and climatic similarities with Tuscany to the north, which produces five times as much wine. Umbria’s docs seem repetitive at best, obstructive of the distinction of different terroirs at worst. Most of its 15 DOCs are similar in terms of grape varieties, yields, and minimum alcoholic strength, with a strong bias towards international varieties. Sangiovese, with a total of 2,460 ha/6,080 acres planted in 2010, is Umbria’s most important red wine grape, followed by Merlot with 1,297 ha, the indigenous sagrantino with 905 ha, and Cabernet Sauvignon with 567 ha. Of white wine grapes, the lacklustre Tuscan import trebbiano Toscano (also called Procanico in Umbria) comes first with 1,452 ha followed by the superior grechetto (1,357 ha), and Chardonnay (344 ha). All of these varieties are an obligatory component in every DOC’s production regulations, regardless of their suitability for the different local conditions. Regrettably, Trebbiano Toscano is the dominant component in Umbria’s most important white DOC, orvieto. The blend must include at least 60% of a mix of Trebbiano and Grechetto. Orvieto’s terroir is very suitable for the production of high quality whites, and in the 1980s the region attracted the attention of Tuscan wine producers and consultants keen to broaden their portfolio with a white from a nearby location. But instead of working with local varieties, they planted Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, which may have promised a higher return, but it has done little to increase Orvieto’s reputation. Although Orvieto’s quality has undoubtedly improved, currently almost none of it is made without the inclusion of one or more international white varieties. Spoleto, Umbria’s other all-white DOC, requires at least 50% Trebbiano Spoletino, which, at least in theory, is considered more characterful than Trebbiano Toscano. Sangiovese gives pleasant, if not memorable, wines in the Colli Altotiberini, Colli Amerini, Colli Martani, Colli Perugini, and Colli del Trasimeno DOCs, more often than not blended with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The best Umbrian Sangioveses have been produced by Lungarotti (see torgiano). Some good Rosso di Montefalco is also made in the hillside vineyards of the small Montefalco DOC zone between Assisi and Terni. It is blended with a small percentage of the local sagrantino, a grape that comes into its own in the DOCG Montefalco Sagrantino. This ancient variety was already documented in the 16th century, but was almost extinct in the 1960s; however, total plantings grew from 122 ha in 2000 to 906 ha in 2010 thanks to a flowering of interest in it in the 1980s and 1990s. This tannic grape, used traditionally for passito sweet wines, now makes full-bodied, oak-aged, concentrated dry reds which, by law, must be aged for at least 37 months. Regularly compared with brunello in its aromatics and with barolo in tannic grip, Montefalco Sagrantino’s density and high alcohol quenched international thirst for high-octane wines at the time, although some are simply too oaky and alcoholic. Research into sites that can provide an extended ripening season and into the best clones should help.



Torgiano- small hillside doc zone between Perugia and Assisi in the central Italian region of umbria. It was considered Umbria’s finest red wine in the 1960s and 1970s when the production of bottled wine was almost entirely in the hands of the Lungarotti family, who demonstrated that the sangiovese vine could yield excellent wine outside tuscany. Production rules have regrettably been changed to allow varietals based on international varieties with no history in the zone such as Torgiano Pinot Grigio and Torgiano Pinot Noir. Up to 50% Merlot and/or Cabernet Sauvignon are now allowed in Rosso di Torgiano, originally a Sangiovese-based wine. At least 70% Sangiovese is required in DOCG Torgiano Rosso Riserva, but overall the current spirit of Torgiano appears to be marketing-oriented.



Riccardo Cotarella- one of Italy’s most famous consultant oenologists, based in Umbria. Born in Orvieto, he graduated from the winemaking school in Conegliano in 1968 and started working for the Vaselli winery in Orvieto. Together with his brother Renzo (who is general manager for antinori), he founded the Falesco winery at Montefiascone in 1979 with the aim of producing modern white wines to sell to the large bottlers. As the market for Italian wines began to change, Cotarella began to bottle his own wines. He leapt to prominence, however, with red wines from Umbria and Lazio based primarily on Merlot. Falesco’s Montiano, first produced in 1993, became one of Italy’s best known examples of this variety. His fame as a consultant was cemented when the 1993 Montevetrano, a red wine from Salerno in Campania, was released. He now consults to wineries as diverse as Morgante in Sicily, Paola di Mauro in Lazio, Nottola and Castello di Volpaia in Tuscany, Terra di Lavoro in Campania, and La Carraia, Lamborghini, and Sportoletti in Umbria. In 1999 Cotarella and his brother acquired the Marciliano estate in Umbria. His wines are characterized by deep colour, richness, ripe fruit, low acid, and immense appeal. While his critics claim that he has been responsible for producing a more international style of wine, he and his brother can lay claim to having saved the indigenous white Roscetto or Rossetto vine from extinction, of which a complex barrel-aged version is produced, while also turning their attention to aleatico, of which they produce a sweet version. There is no doubt that he has improved quality in and focused a great deal of attention on previously little-known areas (not unlike Michel rolland). In 2013 he was elected the president of Assoenologi, the Italian association of oenologists.



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. Faced with declining sales and ever-lower prices for Orvieto at the beginning of this century, the local consorzio created a red wine DOC Orvietano Rosso based on aleatico, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot, as well as montepulciano and sangiovese, blended or as single varieties. Such wines were in the past labelled igt Umbria. Although considerable investments as early as the late 1970s were made in the region, notably by the likes of antinori with their Castello della Sala estate, and a regular influx of consultant oenologists, the focus tended to be on international varieties and barriques. More distinctive expressions are expected as local varieties are re-evaluated.



Lively, tannic red grape speciality of Montefalco in umbria. Sagrantino di Montefalco was elevated to docg status in the mid 1990s. Sagrantino has been used as an ingredient in dried-grape wines but today shows promise as a carefully vinified dry red, sometimes blended with sangiovese. Outstanding wines from the Arnaldo Caprai winery have created much interest in the variety, but the overall level of viticultural and oenological sophistication in the production zone is not high, as demonstrated by many wines. A total of 994 ha/2,456 were reported in the 2010 vine census.


Trebbiano d’Abruzzo

Perhaps Italy’s most exciting Trebbiano, is thought to be not a Trebbiano at all but probably the bombino bianco of Puglia but this has yet to be proved by dna profiling, which has suggested the variety is related to Trebbiano Spoletino. Trebbiano Spoletino was rescued from extinction by Cantina Novelli in Umbria at the beginning of this century and has clearly gained ground at an extraordinary rate if the 2010 vine census is accurate. Trebbiano Giallo and Trebbiano Modenese are, perhaps appropriately, closely associated with vinegar production.



Strictly Grechetto di Orvieto, sometimes Greghetto, characterful central Italian white grape variety most closely associated with umbria. It is an ingredient in orvieto and in the whites of torgiano and the Colli Martani doc, typically blended with Trebbiano Toscano and Verdello. The grapes’ thick skins provide good resistance to downy mildew. Grechetto di Todi is a synonym for pignoletto and dna profiling suggests a parent–offspring relationship between the two Grechettos. Several DOC regulations specify simply ‘Grechetto’. There were over 1,500 ha/3,750 acres of ‘Grechetto Bianco’ in the 2010 vine census (and 500 ha of Pignoletto).


Umbria: General

One of the smallest region of Italy in population and size. Viticulture not key to economy.

In the shadow of internationally renowned Tuscan neighbour but the input of Tuscan investors, penologists have helped boost the development of top whites (e.g. Antinori’s Cervaro della Sala) & reds esp. in Montefalco.


Umbria: Climate and Weather

Warm Mediterranean climate but more inland so less moderation by the sea


Umbria: Typography and Soils

Located in the centre of Italy’s ‘boot’, bordering Tuscany, March and Lazio. Mainly calcareous clay soils.


Umbria: Sangiovese

Pleasant but no memorable wines from most of the region


Umbria: Sagrantino

Native grape only found in Umbria & produced in tiny qty

One of the most tannic varieties in the world; aromas of
blackberries & toffee w hints of plum, cinnamon & earth


Umbria: Gamay

Mainly around and west of the lake Trasimeno

Wines produced more of an oddity than a serious competitor to Beaujolais


Umbria: Other Red Wine Grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon, Canaiolo


Umbria: Grechetto

Thick-skinned, characterful native grape

Valued for fruitiness & weight


Umbria: Procanico aka Trebbiano Toscano

Workhorse; main part of the blend in Orvieto


Umbria: Verdello

Hi acidity. Sometimes used in Orvieto


Umbria: Other White Grapes

Drupeggio (aka Canaiolo bianco), Malvasia, Chardonnay,


Umbria: Viticulture and Production

14,000ha for 1m hl/yr - 17% DOC. High yields allowed for Orvieto DOC


Umbria: Key Appellations and Characteristics

DOCs. The 2 key DOC/DOCGs are:

Orvieto DOC -2,300ha
- High yields allowed for Orvieto DOC
- Centred around Orvieto town, 90km east of Montepulciano; top sites on the hillsides (up to 500m hi)
- Classico area: tufa, limestone and volcanic soils
- Modern Orvieto is 40-60% Trebbiano Toscano, 15-25% Verdello & Grechetto, Drupeggio and/or Malvasia
- Quality-conscious producers tend to favour Grechetto in the blend vs. Trebbiano/Druppegio.
- Mostly vinified as a dry or medium dry wine. Wines are crisp, refreshing but neutral with apple flavours.
-#1 DOC w 80% of Umbria’s total DOC production

Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG
- Region’s eastern corner; promoted to DOCG in 1991; requires 100% Sagrantino w min 29mths ageing
- The wines are full bodied w very hi alcohol (~16%abv) and tannins. Also made into passito.
- Key producer: Arnaldo Caprai (150ha; 750k btls) and is Sagrantino 25 anni deserve international acclaim
Cecchi, Antinori and Frescobaldi are amongst the big players who have invested in the area.

Others: Rosso Orvietano DOC (R), Montefalco Rosso (R), Torgiano DOC (R/W), Torgiano Riserva (R)


Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG- Umbria

Blend: 50–70% Sangiovese , 15–30% Canaiolo, up to 10% Trebbiano; other red grapes (Ciliegiolo, Montepulciano) up to 15%.

One of two DOCG wines from Umbria. The wine is mostly Sangiovese (50-70%) and the Riserva level is required to age at least 3 years with a minimum of 6 months in bottle. What’s interesting is that the aging requirement is very similar to Gran Selezione classification – Chianti’s highest quality tier. The grapes for Torgiano Rosso Riserva are sourced from vineyards only in the elevated growing areas in Torgiano township (not in the flatlands) which means the wines offer elegant red fruit and floral characteristics with ample aging potential.

Tasting Notes
Brilliant semi-translucent ruby red color with notes of raspberry, strawberry, hide leather and subtle potpourri. Tannins are bold, bordering on notes of coffee or cocoa powder with tangy acidity. This is definitely a wine to set down and enjoy starting around 10+ years from the vintage.


Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG- Umbria

Blend 100% Sagrantino

The other DOCG wine of Umbria. A very special red grape grows in Umbria around the small hillside village of Montefalco. The grape is called Sagrantino and, according to a study by the Edmund Mach Foundation, it may contain the highest amount of polyphenols (antioxidants) of any red wine, anywhere. The study compared Sagrantino to Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo and Tannat (among others) and found that it had more tannins than any of the other wines tested. The structure in Sagrantino’s tannin is similar to that of pure cocoa, whose health benefits are well known. Sagrantino wines that are cellared properly can age for 30+ years.

Tasting Notes
Deep opaque color with notes of black plum, cocoa powder, blackberry sauce, violet, vanilla and sage. On the palate it’s bold with notes of black fruits, minerals, and bitter greens with exceptionally high tannin. The tannins build on your palate over the course of drinking a glass so be sure to enjoy with aged cheeses, roast boar, braised beans or something with enough proteins to balance it.

Passito: There is also a dessert wine style of this wine called Montefalco Sagrantino Passito made using partially dried Sagrantino grapes. Wines burst with dark berry flavors and nuttiness. The sweetness balances Sagrantino’s rigorous tannin.


Montefalco Rosso DOC- Umbria

Blend 60-70% Sangiovese, 10–15% Sagrantino, 15-30% Others

With just a splash of Sagrantino, Montefalco Rosso has deeper color, more tannin, and richer plummy fruit than many other Italian Sangiovese-based wines. It also benefits from the added fruitiness of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon allowed in the blend. Many producers experiment with oak-aging technique to make Montefalco Rosso delicious to drink upon release, making it a great way to start experiencing Umbrian wine immediately.

Tasting Notes

Deep translucent ruby red color with aromas of raspberry, strawberry, cinnamon, leather and rose. On the palate it’s bold and spicy with medium to high tannin and juicy-fruity acidity. Most are best enjoyed 3–10 years from vintage.


Orvieto DOC- Umbria

Blend 40% min. Grechetto, 20–40% Trebbiano and up to 40% other non-aromatic white grapes.

Tasting Notes

Find yourself an Orvieto, or better yet, a wine made with the region’s star white grape: Grechetto. This white grape is most typically made into a fruity-but-dry white wine with aromas of lemon heads, crisp opal apple and strawberries with juicy acidity. Grechetto is a great Italian alternative to unoaked Chardonnay or Pinot Gris.



Small hillside doc zone between Perugia and Assisi in the central Italian region of umbria. It was considered Umbria’s finest red wine in the 1960s and 1970s when the production of bottled wine was almost entirely in the hands of the Lungarotti family, who demonstrated that the sangiovese vine could yield excellent wine outside tuscany. Production rules have regrettably been changed to allow varietals based on international varieties with no history in the zone such as Torgiano Pinot Grigio and Torgiano Pinot Noir. Up to 50% Merlot and/or Cabernet Sauvignon are now allowed in Rosso di Torgiano, originally a Sangiovese-based wine. At least 70% Sangiovese is required in DOCG Torgiano Rosso Riserva, but overall the current spirit of Torgiano appears to be marketing-oriented.