I love my red wine, but on a summer evening, I'd rather choose a crisp white. A few weeks ago I thought about choosing an Orvieto for nostalgia purposes. Several millenia ago, I'd buy a bottle of Orvieto at the local Safeway (!) on my way home from my job as a buyer at Compaq, after a tough day negotiating with West of Scotland metalworkers...
I probably haven't drunk it in at least 20 years, but I saw it on the supermarket shelf and wondered if I should try it again. In the end, I decided my fridge was already overflowing with whites and I had little need to buy another bottle, especially with the end of summer nigh. But somehow, when we focus our thoughts on something, it appears in our life, and just 2 days later a friend turned up at my front door with a bottle of Orvieto! It was not chilled so we decided not to drink it then, but I promised I'd make it a wine of the week and here we are.
What I hadn't realised was that she'd brought me an "Amabile" or medium wine - so definitely not dry, and much sweeter than what I'd normally choose to drink. I can't recall if the Orvietos of old where sweet but I don't remember them as anything much more than crisp and refreshing. From what I can gather, Orvieto is generally a dry wine and a blend of Grechetto and Trebbiano with this one also containing some Verdelho (or Verdello as it's known in Italy) and some other varieties.
This £4.99 winemaker's selection from Sainsbury's has a good level of refreshing acidity despite it being far from the dry white I'd anticipated... My initiial tasting found it to be fuller in body than I'd expected (probably due to the effect of the sugar) and the main flavour is one of cloudy apple cider or even sparkling perry but without the fizz. There wasn't much else. I wondered if I'd got it wrong, but Mr Purple Teeth agreed. This basically tastes like flat cider. It ended up with half a bottle being poured away. Sadly the nostalgia I was hoping wasn't a look at the past through rose-tinted spectacles, but maybe that's just as well. This reminded me how much better life is now that I drink wines that are a little pricier, how much there is to enjoy out there, and how glad I am that I don't just drink the same wine every time.
Next summer, perhaps I'll try the Waitrose La Pluma dry Orvieto at £7.49 but perhaps memories are best left as memory...
I drank this one with a friend, also called Heather. It was her first tasting of the grape and she tends to go for big oaky whites like Chardonnays because she's all about the mouthfeel rather than the aromatic flavours which this wine presents. Torrontés, however, satisfies both of us - plenty of aromatic oomph, and a great mouthfeel. If you like Viognier, you'll probably love this.
There's some speculation that the variety is related to Muscat, and it's true that there is a grapey flavour that evokes Muscat, but I feel this varietal has a bit more oomph when it's produced in the dry style.
The true home of the finest Torrontés is not Mendoza but rather, Salta, home of some of the world's highest vineyards with the city being over 1150m above sea level. I am rarely effusive about Tesco compared to the Wine Society, but in this case, their Finest range contains a Salta Torrontés for £8.99. Yes, our Wine Society version is cheaper, but I imagine more of you have access to a Tesco than a Wine Society membership, and there are always those "special offers" to look for. Occasionally, you can pick up 2 wines in the Finest range for as little as £12. Stock up on this and you'll be in for a bargain.
Although our British summer is no longer visible in the rear view mirror, I'm pleased to say that I'll be giving the shorts a final outing in Valencia next week, so I won't be featuring a regular "wine of the week" and instead, will report back on my finds on my return. Meanwhile, do experiment with something new, and if you're drinking Spanish wines, let me know what you think. I found the Finca Moncloa in my Spanish September last year, and I'm hoping to uncover some new magic this time.