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What our expert thought of Sergio Mottura, Orvieto ‘Tragugnano’




the tasting

The Tasting


Although this 2016 is still young, there’s no green tinge to its pale straw colour.  Despite that pallor it still shows prominent legs on the side of the glass as a consequence of its 14% alcohol.
 
There’s a penetrating nose that tickles the sinuses.  Mineral rather than fruity, it has a powdery smell that’s almost like artists’ paint.  It’s subtly floral too, with a scent akin to acacia blossom though it’s even closer to some low-growing rockery plant (whose name I can’t remember) which has clusters of tiny white florets that bees love to visit.
 
It doesn’t smell fruity at all ‐ perhaps a little citrus pith and apple skin ‐ but it is decidedly herbal, with scents of thai basil, sage and thyme (fresh rather than dried).  Youthful and tight, it smells very dry… and also sharp, although there’s a medicinal depth to it (perhaps the alcohol) that suggests ripeness.
 
Although very dry on the palate, this is surprisingly elegant: not as sharp or as powerfully flavoured as the nose implied.  Not at first, anyway; this is a backloaded wine with acidity, intensity and body all building through the palate.  The flavours are difficult to describe: somehow this is really concentrated without tasting of anything very much.  There’s yellow apple and some not-too-sharp, subtly-flavoured citrus, like pomelo.  Spices and minerals dominate in a wine that tastes stony yet ripe.
 
Though it puts on enough weight in the mouth to qualify as full-bodied, this wine is light on its feet for 14% and is never heavy.  That may be because the acidity builds too, and is more noticeable on the mouthwatering finish than it was at first sip.  That finish is dry and lip-lickingly saline, featuring lots of white pepper spice and some subtle almond nuttiness.  It’s slightly bitter, but not so much as to require food.  It’s satisfyingly long, too; there’s no need to rush back for another sip.


Assessment


Classy and concentrated yet subtle and unshowy, this is the best Orvieto I've ever tasted and one of the best Italian whites.  I especially love its subtle but penetrating nose: I spent fifteen minutes enjoying the smell of my first glassful without tasting it or feeling I needed to, just trying to analyse its complexities as they gradually opened up.
 
This Orvieto’s balance, nuttiness and unfruity quality remind me of the excellent Coffele Soave we featured almost a year ago, but its full-bodied concentration is even more like the Antonelli Colli Martani we had last June.  That’s perhaps not surprising, as the Antonelli was made from Grechetto, one of the main Orvieto grapes.



Tasting notes

Appearance
clear pale+ straw, prominent legs
Nose

Intensity medium, but penetrating

Aromas mineral (powder, paint), floral (acacia), fresh green herbs (thai basil, sage, thyme), citrus pith, apple skin

Development youthful
Palate

Sweetness fully dry

Acidity medium(+?), backloaded

Body full-, backloaded, light for 14%

Intensity medium

Flavours spice (white pepper), mineral/lees (stones, mouthfilling), yellow apple, citrus (pomelo)
Finish

Length medium+

Flavours spice (white pepper), nuts (bitter almond), mineral (salt). Less warm than expected for 14%
Other notes
Unoaked. Complex nose rewards attention. Stony yet ripe. Concentrated but unfruity. Subtle & satisfying. Still young - will improve.


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