Posted by: tomciocco | November 19, 2011


Unfortunately, many of the best known appellation names in Italian wine are amongst the dodgiest in terms of quality. There are numerous undeniably fine examples of  Frascati, Valpolicella, Lambrusco, and yes, Orvieto, but these and other such regions still get away with turning out crap wine for a whole list of reasons, one of which is the very fame of each region’s respective name – think about it- if you make wine in Buttafuco or Solopaca, and you want to sell it further than 20 km from where it’s made, you gotta be at least a little bit better, because your name, if anything, is a liability …

Orvieto’s problem is similar to a region like Soave for example; in short, it allows of too many of the wrong grapes (varieties that are short on character, and often obtrusive “international” varieties as well) in too high quantities, with permissable yields that are also too high. And though the local clone of none other than the ubiquitous Trebbiano – here called Procanico – is more highly thought of than some others, the D.O.C. regulations still allow it to make up as much as 60% of the Orvieto blend, at the expense of several finer local varieties…

But like I said, there are always producers in all of these regions that choose quality and tradition,  and this is definitely one. This bottling clearly emphasizes the clean and characterful blend over the eccentricities of place for sure (it’s made up of Procanico, Grechetto, Verdello, and Malvasia Toscana by the way), but it is lengths ahead of countless other completely innocuous wines that carry the storied Orvieto name.

I matched this gregarious little wine with an appetizer of cauliflower and Pecorino cheese fritters flavored with a bit of marjoram and thyme. The main course was intended to be perch, but catfish was my best available option, so it got the same treatment: salt, pepper, dredged in flour, and then fried in butter with lots of sage, a whole garlic clove, and then some lemon juice to make a quick sauce once the fish was plated. Braised cubes of fennel rode shotgun.








Baroncini Orvieto Classico “Libra” 2010

Bright, coppery golden color. The nose opens with moderately pungent herby aromas, followed by green olive, toasted nuts, wet shells, and quince and bosc pear fruit. The medium-full body is round and fairly rich, but with a tightly wound core, and well-defined and intense flavors of green apple, lime juice, orange zest, roasted corn, ginger, and celery seed. Lingering but clean bitter/tart finish.


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