Monday, December 10, 2018
Argillae was founded by Cavaliere del Lavoro Giuseppe Bonollo in the hills north of the town and the 94-acre estate is now run by today's generation. Their U.S. importer says winemaker Lorenzo Landi works with grapes grown in clay, sand and limestone. Argillae, in fact, is the Italian word for clay. The clay soil stays cool and helps the grapes grow better through the hot Umbrian summer. Ancient fossils dot the landscape from two million years ago, adding their own special minerality to the fruit and the wines.
The 2016 Argillae Orvieto is a blend of grapes: Grechetto, Procanico, Malvasia, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. You may recognize Procanico by its local name - Trebbiano. The different grapes were vinified separately in stainless steel tanks, then blended together and aged a few months in those tanks. Alcohol is restrained, at 13% abv and I paid $11 by the glass for it at a Beverly Hills Italian restaurant.
This dry white wine strikes a nice balance between the floral and mineral aspects. Served too cold, as it always seems to be in restaurants, it's hard to dig out any scent at all. Once it escapes the clutches of the refrigerator, the citrus and minerals work hard enough to rival the flowers. The palate is mineral-driven and fits perfectly with pasta and chicken in a light tomato sauce.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014
This month and next, Whole Foods Markets has the spotlight on Italian wines at great prices. Get the details on the wines and the April virtual tasting event on Twitter here.
You can go to hashtag #WFMWine to see how much fun we had on the first one.
Today we sample one of those wines.
Thursday March 13, 7:00-8:00 p.m. CT:
Banfi Principessa Gavia Gavi Ruffino Orvieto Classico Gran Passione Rosso Donnafugata Sedàra Thursday April 10, 7:00-8:00 p.m. CT:
Presto Prosecco Caposaldo Pinot Grigio Monrosso Chianti Verrazzano Rosso
Ruffino Orvieto Classico $10.99
Cousins Ilario and Leopoldo Ruffino founded the Tuscan winery that bears their name in 1870. Within a decade or so, they had made a name for themselves in the wine world with their wines made using grapes sourced from local farmers. They have had some famous fans. The Duke of Aosta named Ruffino the official wine supplier to the royal Italian court. Composer Giuseppe Verdi wrote a 19th-century letter to the winemakers - a complaint that the wine he ordered was late in arriving. It's a good thing for the Ruffinos that Verdi didn't have Yelp at his disposal. "That damn Verdi again! What's the opera this time?" The winery has weathered the decades well, good vintages and bad, even recovering from the destruction of its cellars in a WWII bomb attack.
Orvieto Classico was named for the beautiful Umbrian city from which its grapes are sourced. Those grapes are a treasure trove of Italian white wine fruit: 40% Grechetto, 20% Procanico and 40% other white varietals, like Verdello and Canaiolo Bianco. The wine is produced entirely in stainless steel vats and comes in at an easy-drinking 12% abv. It is bottled under an easy-opening screw cap.
The straw-tinted wine shows wet rocks, white flowers and lemon peel on the nose. It's not an overpowering aroma, but it's not too subtle, either. A sip brings crisp apple, limes and more minerals up front with a fantastic acidity that tingles the tongue. Afterward, a slightly nutty, savory note is left behind
On Twitter, kudos were given by @ClearLakeWine for the Orvieto's "great acidity," along with a pairing suggestion: "Not surprisingly, the Orvieto Classico [is] fantastic with good parmesan." @WineFoodTravel tweeted, "Wow, the Orvieto Classico is definitely a great summer wine. Goes great with scallops. #Yum." #YumIndeed.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Los Angeles restaurant Luna Park on La Brea seems to attract Denise and me back time after time. Lately we've been somewhat disenchanted with the volume at which the music is played in the restaurant. Even at lunch, it has seemed overly loud and overburdened with all the '80s songs you know and hate. This time, however, the music was at a comfortable level which allowed us to talk to each other without shouting. The song selection didn't even seem too bad.
I might have just been in a good mood, because it was a half-price food day at Luna Park. You have to be a real insider to know when those money-saving days are. Or just do what I do - follow them on Twitter . They give a secret word to tell the waitress, which allows you to save money while enjoying that under-the-table-speakeasy sort of vibe.
We love the food at Luna Park, and they have a pretty nice wine list, too. This lunch, I chose an old reliable - Ruffino Orvieto. I've never been to Orvieto, but every time I read about the city, they call it beautiful. Situated in Umbria between Rome and Florence, the area is blessed with a chalky, limestone soil which seems to be so good for white wine.
Ruffino sources their grapes from vineyards in Orvieto, 40% Grechetto, 20% Procanico and 40% a mixture of Verdello and Canaiolo Bianco. The wine is 12.5% abv.
A nice straw yellow in the glass, the wine's nose is floral and fruity, with pear, apple and a lot of minerals present. The taste is delicious, peaches and that wonderful minerality taking center stage, with a citrus note on the finish. It's got great acidity that begs for food. Fortunately, they have plenty of that at Luna Park. This wine was a hit with the salmon on spaghetti aglio y olio, the yellow tomatoes and burrata - Orvieto goes very well with cheese - and the roasted cauliflower and capers. It's great just to sip, too.
Friday, June 11, 2010
We got together with friends we see far too little of, with the intent of a casual night outdoors at the Farmer's Market. Springtime in Los Angeles proved a bit too chilly in the open air, so we hoofed it over to The Grove and landed at Morel's. We guys talked about guitars and the Grateful Dead and the stuff we used to do while the gals talked about who knows what and laughed themselves silly when I took a picture of my wine glass. Fingers were placed in the shot and a great time was had by all.I had the pleasure of an Umbrian wine, Palazzone Dubini Bianco. It's an $8 glass, which is fairly paltry by today's restaurant standards. I've found that an $8 glass of wine in a restaurant generally means you can buy a whole bottle of it at a wine shop for about the same price.
Orvieto is the best-known Umbrian wine, and this Palazzone actually qualifies as an Orvieto. The wine was declassified, though, into the broader Umbria IGT.
The blend is 50% Procanico - the local Trebbiano - 20% Verdello and lesser amounts of Grechetto, Drupeggio and Malvasia. Stainless steel fermentation allows these various fruits to express themselves uninfluenced by oak.
Pale golden in the glass, the nose is fresh and flowery. The palate is full of minerals, which is how I like a white wine. Flavors of apples, wet rocks and lemon zest dominate. It was almost as much fun as the company I had at the table that evening.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The Bottle: It may come in a Bordeaux bottle, but this white wine is all Italian. Made from Trebbiano and Grechetto grapes, this Umbrian mainstay is named for the Village where it was made. The abv is 12%. I seem to remember it was a real steal, right around $5.
The Nose: Orvieto has a warmer climate in central Italy and chalky, limestone-laden soil that imparts a serious terroir to the wine. If you are a fan of dry whites that have minerals to spare, an Orvieto may be a good choice for you. I get a nose full of minerality when I smell it, along with a hint of citrus. By the way, coloring is very pale and there are a few bubbles clinging to the glass.
The Taste: Very earthy and tangy, this Orvieto is a basic, no-frills Italian white wine. Dry as a bone and quite refreshingly crisp, it's a wine that begs for food. Let me correct that. It's a wine that begs for scallops in a butter sauce. It's a wine that begs for shrimp scampi. It's a wine that begs for crab cakes. Sure, you could sip it on the porch and it would serve you very well. But look around you. Is the grill nearby? Fire it up and throw some skewered shrimp on there. The Orvieto will thank you.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The Bottle: This Tuscan winery sources grapes from the Umbrian city of Orvieto. A $10 wine, it's composed of 50% Procanico, 30% Grechetto, 10% Verdello and 10% Canaiolo Bianco.
The Nose: A pale yellow-green tint barely colors the wine. The nose is floral and fruity, with pear and apple most noticeable.
The Taste: In the mouth, this Orvieto is delicious and well-structured, a very drinkable wine. A clean minerality is present. The finish is great. It's a really nice sipping wine, but it's even better with food. It paired nicely with my sea scallops from the grill, and the lettuce, tomato and shaved parmesan salad. The place where this wine really earns its keep is with cheese. Had it with a bleu, Parmesan and baby Swiss, and it brought out the best in each of the cheeses.