Trebbiano, or Ugni Blanc, is a family of white grape varieties widely planted in central Italy, as well as all around the world. While there are many types of Trebbiano,Trebbiano Toscano (aka Procanico) is blended with Grechetto to make Orvieto, a blend originating from the Orvieto DOC (in the region of Umbria, south of Tuscany). Trebbiano is a high yield grape that is used for table wines but can also be used to make brandies (like Cognac in France) and balsamic vinegar in Modena, Italy. When shopping for Trebbiano, it is important to look for the DOC designation to ensure you are getting the better expressions of the wine grape.
One of my favorite Ugni Blancs is from Paix Sur Terre in Paso Robles, CA. This is surprising as it is an extremely rare wine, especially as a single varietal, to find in the US. Not only do they offer it but they do a great job making wine with it. I am not alone in this adoration because it is now only available to club members or sometimes at the winery due it being in high demand each vintage. Paix Sur Terre is a quaint husband and wife venture where the family can commonly be found in the tasting room pouring tastings of their wines which are largely Rhône varietals, with the occasional Zinfandel, Cabernet, or Ugni Blanc peppered in. They purchase their fruit from local, responsible growers which shines through in the wines they produce. Unfortunately, I am out of Ugni Blanc, so I chose an Orvieto to taste this week.
The Orvieto I procured is from a Marchesi Antinori property (one of the largest wine companies in Italy), Castello della Sala. It is located in northwestern Umbria, near the border of southern Tuscany. The castle on the estate was built in 1350 by Angelo Monaldeschi della Vipera who passed it down in his family for generations until 1516, when the owner requested it be bequeathed to the church upon his death. It continued to belong to the church until the Italian government seized all church properties in 1860. In 1940, the Antinori family purchased the land with the vision of making outstanding wines. It just so happens, the castle also included an aging cellar that dates back to the original construction. It has been perfect for a barrel room to age their wines.
I paired the 2019 Della Sala Orvieto Classico Superiore with a gourmet veggie pizza from my local Round Table. The wine was a medium lemon with tiny bubbles that formed around the goblet but didn’t rise to the surface. It had watery legs that ran back to the wine’s surface. It had aromas of glycerol, lemon peel, limes, white grapefruit, peaches, and nectarines. The 2019 vintage had a cooler snap in the weather leading up to harvest, which imparted a vibrant acidity on the final product. This acid cut through the creamy white sauce on the pizza like a hot knife through butter. The vivid notes of citrus were excellent with the zucchini, spinach and artichokes topping the pizza. This wine also had prominent flavors of peaches, apricots, and nectarines. These flavors brought out the sweetness in the cooked red onions and tomatoes. There were also hints of earthy minerality that accentuated the herb blend sprinkled over the pizza’s surface. This is one of my favorite pizza’s so having a bottle of wine to enjoy with it makes it even more enjoyable!