Exploring a Treasure from Umbria


Ever changing, untouched landscapes in the green of winding valleys make Umbria a region that will never fail to amaze. This region comprises mainly hills, mountains, hollows and plains and extends along the Tiber’s central basin.

At the heart of the boot, Umbria is one of Italy’s few landlocked regions, has a much less illustrious reputation for wine than Tuscany, its neighbor to the west. The small region lies in the shadows of the Apennines, its climate moderated by maritime winds funneling from the Tyrrhenian Sea. The region is slow to develop and rustic in comparison to surrounding regions, however, provided noted physicist Enrico Fermi with a wine to toast the first successful nuclear reaction of the Manhattan Project, Orvieto. A light white wine produced from blend with Grechetto di Orvieto.

What are we talking about when we talk about Grechetto?

Grechetto is an Italian white grape variety that has its origins and is still common in region Umbria (central Italy, to the south-west of Tuscany). It is also cultivated in bordering regions, such as Marche, Lazio and Emilia-Romagna.

The tricky thing about Grechetto, it’s been determined to be two varieties: Grechetto di Orvieto and Grechetto di Todi. Both are occasionally and inadequately referred to as “clones” but the two are not clones at all. In fact, they’re not even related.

Usually, when we talk about Grechetto we refer to the Grechetto di Orvieto variety.

Grechetto di Todi, on the other hand, has been found to be, from the genetic point of view, much similar to Pignoletto, an autochthonous variety of region Emilia.

Where does Grechetto come from?

When it’s about Italian wine, which is something as ancient as the people that produce it (let’s remember that, although wine as we know it is a relatively recent product, ancient Romans already drank a beverage made from fermented crushed grapes), popular tradition can be a reliable source of knowledge.

Given that the Italian words for Greece and Greek are respectively Grecia and Greco, the name “Grechetto” means “a small one from Greece” (from the adjective “greco” and the diminutive suffix “-etto”, with the addition of an /h/ for phonological reasons). The name could in all likelihood reveal the origin of the grape variety, which might have come from Greece through Romans and have found in central Italy a new home. However, Grechetto – or, better to say, Grechetto di Orvieto – is considered an autochthonous variety from Umbria because it is deeply rooted there since a very long time. The variety is most abundant in Umbria, especially in the countryside surrounding Orvieto.

Which wines are made from Grechetto?

Grechetto is a wine variety that can give high yields (which explains its success throughout century) and that, therefore, requires to be work carefully in the vineyard to obtain a quality wine.

Grechetto grapes produce a pretty fresh wine, making uncomplicated, light-bodied, lemony wines that are easygoing, with hints of white flowers, chamomile, lime, and yellow apples, with generally high acidity.

Grechetto di Orvieto is widely used in blends, too, in order to produce more complex wines or to give them a distinctive local note.

This year Wine Spectator selected Arnoldo Caprrai Grecante Grechetto dei Colli Martani 2015, #88 on the list with a rating of 90 points.

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