Orvieto is an Italian wine region located in Umbria and Lazio, centered around the commune of Orvieto. It is primarily known for its white wines made from a blend of mostly Grechetto and Trebbiano, which is sold under the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) Orvieto and Orvieto Classico. Blended red wine and eight varietal reds are sold under the Rosso Orvietano DOC. The region has been producing wine since the Middle Ages, when Orvieto wine was known as a sweet, golden yellow wine. Today’s white Orvieto is dry, but a semi-sweet style, known as Orvieto Abboccato, and dolce (sweet), are also produced in small quantities. Viticulture was introduced to the Orvieto region by the early Etruscans, who carved out cellar-like caves from volcanic soil that could house wine production with long, cool fermentation and produced the type of sweet wine that was popular in the ancient world. From the Middle Ages to the mid-20th century, the Orvieto region was known for the sweet dessert wine made with the noble rot, Botrytis cinerea. White Orvieto is composed primarily of Grechetto and Trebbiano and a blend of Malvasia, Drupeggio, Verdello and Canaiolo Bianco grapes. Grechetto is valued for the fruitiness and weight that it brings to the wine; some of the most highly rated examples of Orvieto have a high concentration of Grechetto. The wine today is radically different from the historical sweet Orvieto, with off-dry and sweet wines accounting for less than five percent of total production. In addition to the traditional grape varieties listed, some Orvieto producers have begun experimenting with non-DOC Vino da Tavola wines made from Riesling and Sauvignon blanc.
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