A Wine Lover's Weekly Guide To $10 Wines - A White Orvieto From Central Italy
This will be three inexpensive Italian wines in a row. First a rose, then a red, so why not a white? Umbria is in central Italy. The wine reviewed comes from Orvieto, a town near the Latium border and not that far from the Tuscan border. I think you can guess which of the neighboring regions is known for wine. The Orvieto Classico area has chalky soil so we may be facing a highly acidic wine that tastes of minerals. This particular wine is based on four local grapes, only one of which has (sometimes) a fine reputation.
Whether or not you like this wine, Umbria and the town of Orvieto are well worth visiting. The site is absolutely spectacular, sitting on an enormous plateau of volcanic rock. They didn't need the typical high walls to defend the town from invaders. If you go, make sure to take the underground tour and enjoy the local cuisine. You can try the local wines or order Tuscan wines such as Vino Nobile de Montepulciano which comes from an area just over the regional border. I just tasted such a wine, but you won't find it among my $10 wine reviews.
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.
Wine Reviewed Ruffino Orvieto Classico DOC 2007 12 % alcohol about $9.50
Let's start with the marketing materials. Tasting Note: Pale straw color; citrus and apple fruit aromas and flavors; light-bodied, clean and crisp a hint of almond in the finish. Serving Suggestion: Serve chilled as an aperitif or with deep fried calamari. And now for my review.
At the first sip the wine was mild tasting with soft acidity. It lingered. The first pairing was with a Middle Eastern specialty, Kube or Kibbe, ground beef in crushed Bulghar wheat jackets served with a peppery sauce containing crushed tomatoes. The wine was appley and somewhat sweet with pleasing acidity. So far there's not a lot to say about this wine.
The second pairing included a barbecued chicken breast in a caramelized sauce, potato salad, and a Moroccan-style tomato, garlic, and pimento salsa that wasn't very spicy. The sweetness of the Orvieto blended well with the sweetness of the chicken. With the other dishes the wine lost its sweetness and stopped just short of feathery. It picked up more strength with the acidic salsa.
The final meal included a mushroom omelet, an overly mayonnaised grilled artichoke dip, and Japanese rice crackers. The wine started out light. It was not particularly flavorful. It got better developing some notes of apple. Even though the artichoke dip was mild tasting it cut across the wine. For dessert I enjoyed a high-quality French style lemon pie with a buttery crust. The pie was delicious but totally flattened the Orvieto.
In the presence of the first cheese, a Mozzarella , the wine picked up some intensity was did not have much flavor. With a yellow Cheddar I tasted pale apples, but only in the background.
Final verdict. I really don't think that I would buy this wine again, it was simply too forgettable. On the other hand, some of the pairings were OK. See if you can get it at a better price. Or better yet, see if you can get a better wine.
Levi Reiss is the author or co-author of ten computer and Internet books, but really would rather just drink fine German or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Check out his global wine website is http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.