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Barberani Grechetto 1998
Named “Oenotria” by the ancient Greeks for its abundance of grapevines, Italy has always had a culture that is virtually inextricable from wine. Wine grapes are grown just about everywhere throughout the country—a long and narrow boot-shaped peninsula extending into the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. The defining geographical feature of the country is the Apennine Mountain range, extending from Liguria in the north to Calabria in the south. The island of Sicily nearly grazes the toe of Italy’s boot, while Sardinia lies to the country’s west. Climate varies significantly throughout the country, with temperature being somewhat more dependent on elevation than latitude, though it is safe to generalize that the south is warmer. Much of the highest quality viticulture takes place on gently rolling, picturesque hillsides.
Italy boasts more indigenous varieties than any other country—between 500 and 800, depending on whom you ask—and most wine production relies upon these native grapes. In some regions, international varieties have worked their way in, but their use is declining in popularity, especially as younger growers begun to take interest in rediscovering forgotten local specialties. Sangiovese is the most widely planted variety in the country, reaching its greatest potential in parts of Tuscany. Nebbiolo is the prized grape of Piedmont in the northwest, producing singular, complex and age-worthy wines. Other important varieties include Montepulciano, Trebbiano, Barbera, Nero d’Avola and of course, Pinot Grigio.
Producing Umbria’s best snappy and tactile white wines, Grechetto is the region’s star white variety. Whether on its own or as part of a blend, this grape has elevated the quality of the whites throughout this central, land-locked Italian region. Producers have tended to favor its use in the native Orvieto white wine, a dynamic blend composed of varying percentages of Trebbiano, Grechetto, Verdello and Canaiolo bianco, to name a few. Its ability to add texture and penetrating aromas have made it quite popular as of late.
Many of the producers famous for their Sagrantino-based red wines from Montefalco also produce single varietal Grechettos from the adjacent Colli Martani DOC. These wines are expressive of chamomile, white flowers, smoke, mint and fennel and have juicy lemon, green apple and stone fruit flavors.
Grechetto is an excellent alternative to an unoaked Chardonnay or Pinot grigio!