Orvieto is an Italian wine region located in Umbria and Lazio, centred around the town of Orvieto. It is primarily known for its white wines made from a blend of mostly Grechetto and Trebbiano, which is sold under the (DOC) Orvieto and Orvieto Classico. Blended red wine and eight varietal reds are sold under the Rosso Orvietano DOC.
Viticulture was introduced to the Orvieto region by the early Etruscans, who carved out cellar-like caves from volcanic soil that housed wine production with long, cool fermentation and produced the type of sweet wine that was popular in the ancient world, made with the noble rot, Botrytis cinerea, described by the poet Gabriele d'Annunzio as "the sun of Italy in a bottle". Today's white Orvieto is dry, but off-dry wine and a semi-sweet style, known as Orvieto Abboccato, and dolce (sweet), are also produced in small quantities.
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.
Orvieto became a papal stronghold and one of the richest cities in Italy. As Orvieto wine became famous, the wine was renamed "the Pope's wine". When the Orvieto cathedral was built it was used to pay the workers. Luca Signorelli, the Italian Renaissance painter who painted the frescoes of the Last Judgment in the Cathedral of Orvieto, he asked to the paid with 1000 litres of Orvieto wine every year.
Today there are four classifications of Orvieto DOC:
Orvieto Classico DOC, produced in the ancient area.
Orvieto Superiore DOC, low-yield, of superior quality in respect of Orvieto DOC.
Orvieto Classico Superiore DOC, ancient area of production, with low-yields, the top-quality Orvieto.