Umbria

Umbria, in central Italy, is a region of lush rolling hills, hilltop villages and iconic, historic towns (exemplified by Orvieto and Assisi). Its annual wine production of around one million hectolitres (26 million gallons) is less than one third that of neighbouring Toscana, and makes it the country's fourth smallest wine producing region by volume. Located at the very heart of the Italian Peninsula, it is hemmed in by its neighbours Toscana, Marche and Lazio, and is in fact the only Italian region with neither a coastline nor an international border.

As at mid-2010 only around 17% of the wines produced were of DOC level, although the quality and prominence of the region's wines are on the rise. This progression can be attributed in part to the employment of consulting oenologists, a practice common in the quality wine areas of Toscana, Piemonte and Friuli during the 1980s and 1990s. This investment has markedly improved wine based on Sangiovese (the region's principal red variety), but many of the high-quality new wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir for the reds, or Chardonnay for the whites. An Umbrian style has evolved for Chardonnay blended with Grechetto, which is barrel fermented. As these new wines cost a fraction of the price of those from neighbouring Toscana, they attract considerable interest at home and internationally.

The climate of Umbria is similar to that of Toscana – cold, rainy winters and dry summers with abundant sunshine. The exception to this is the area west of Perugia, where temperatures are moderated by the waters of Lake Trasimeno (the largest lake on the Italian Peninsula). The majority of the region's vineyard plantings are along terraces cut into the hillsides, which is reflected in a number of the area's DOC names (colli means "hills").

Umbria, just like the central regions of Marche and Lazio, is best known for its white wine production: nearly 60% of wine produced is white. Despite changes in style over time, Orvieto (based on the Trebbiano grape) remains the region's largest DOC and accounts for 80% of the overall wine production. Trebbiano is also referred to as Procanico in Umbria, although some believe it to be a superior clone, with smaller grape bunches which produces a finer wine.

Although best known for its white wines, Umbria's two DOCGs are for red wines. The native grape Sagrantino has gained prominence in the Montefalco area, creating wines of great depth and power, so it was no surprise when Montefalco Sagrantino received DOCG classification in 1992. The second of the region's DOCG wines is Torgiano Rosso Riserva. There are 11 DOCs and 6 IGTs (Allerona, Bettona, Cannara, Narni, Spello and the region-wide Umbria IGT).
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