Beauty in the Hills, Beauty in the Bottle
From a UNESCO World Heritage Site 1,575 feet above sea level comes the quintessential Italian white — this 91-point D’Amico “Noe dei Calanchi” that Wine Spectator’s former European bureau chief, James Suckling, calls it “a bright and easy white.” At $14.99, Suckling’s 91-point score is startlingly impressive for a wine at such a value price. In this corner of Umbria, where the steep and dramatic calanchi (hillsides eroded by the elements) form a place of incomparable beauty, Mediterranean warmth and cool breezes from the Apennine mountains produce perfectly-ripened Grechetto, Trebbiano, and Pinot Grigio. Lovers of crisp lemon- and pear-laden Italian whites should lock into this Italian bargain white of the year by the case-load. 125 cases up for grabs.
Rising from the earth in the west of Umbria are the calanchi: dramatic, volcanic formations carved by passing water into deep valleys and cliffs. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this historic terrain is the birthplace of the Etruscan culture; there are 3,000 year-old cellars dug into the hillsides.
Although the central Italian region of Umbria is landlocked, it feels the influence of the sea. The mighty Tiber river shuttles the warming influence of the Mediterranean up into Umbria, balancing the acid-enhancing cool that envelopes vineyards 1,575 feet above sea level. The liberal blending allowed in Orvieto makes for diverse wines; this one drinks like a Pinot Grigio that has been imbued with extra charm and elegance by a healthy dose of the distinctive local variety Grechetto.
James Suckling, whose knowledge of Italian wines is peerless, and who calls nearby Tuscany home, praised the “bright and easy” “Noe dei Calanchi” as “a very pretty wine.” A beautiful wine from a place of unmatched beauty.