When is a Grechetto not a Grechetto ?

So there we were, out and about, spinning our wheels, when we chanced upon a native Umbrian GRECHETTO. So far, not having tasted a 100% varietal of this Italian white, we thought let’s give it a blast. Afterall, it’s what adventurous native grape people do, right ? For us, as no doubt it is for you, buying wines we’ve never tasted is the cue to begin some beautiful research. So returning to the question, when is a native Umbrian Grechetto not a Grechetto ?

When it’s a Grechetto di Todi !

You see we’ve now learned from those amazing people in the field of genetic research (all hail to them) that ‘Grechetto di Todi’ is identical to ‘Pignoletto’.

And PIGNOLETTO is a white grape variety native to Emilia Romagna not Umbria or the southern Umbrian town of Todi. Infact we learned the only Grechetto native to Umbria is GRECHETTO di ORVIETO, which most locals seem to call just Grechetto. But confusingly, Grechetto di Todi is also often just called Grechetto. Are you still with us ? Little confusing perhaps?

While all may now be clear in laboratory, unfortunately where we are as consumers, the confusion still remains. A case in point being our recent purchase. We had hoped it would be our first tasting of this native variety.

Turns out the wine we tasted was produced from Grechetto di Todi grapes, which as we now know means it was infact a… Pignoletto. And while it was a very nice wine, it got us thinking.

What potential disservice is being done to the name of Umbria’s GRECHETTO. Looking from the outside in, the confusion appears to stem from the continued us of dated records. And no doubt it will prevail as long as the ambiguity remains in place.

Spare a thought for producers in the following Umbrian DOC production zones:

Orvieto DOC

The ancient and stunningly beautiful city of ORVIETO is considered the native home of GRECHETTO di ORVIETO. Yet surprisingly in the DOC regulations there appears no mention of the variety as being ‘di Orvieto’. It simply states GRECHETTO. In terms of the wine, it’s specified principally as a blend of Grechetto with Procanico (a.k.a. Trebbiano Toscano) minimum 60%, together with max 40% of other white varieties. It’s not exactly what you’d call showcasing the potential of Grechetto di Orvieto. We caveat this by saying, as yet, we don’t know if the locals consider Grechetto di Orvieto worthy of a 100% varietal wine. To fully understand, one day soon we’ve gotta go & taste with the good people at ORVIETO DOC. Cue trip plan for Umbria :)

Todi DOC

Another beautiful hill top location, the town of Todi is 40km or so east of Orvieto. The Todi DOC regulations covering its townland, specifies only Grechetto or Grechetto di Todi (which we know is Pignoletto). There’s no mention of Grechetto di Orvieto. Just Grechetto. So there’s always that question, which variety was used to make the juice in the bottle? And is it 100% or is it a blend ? Here’s a suggestion of where to start if you’re into Discovering Todi – http://www.bellaumbria.net/it/todi/

Colli Martani DOC

The Todi DOC is also found inside the much larger Colli Martani DOC zone that stretches up towards Perugia. Once again this zone specifies Grechetto (no mention of ‘di Orvieto’) & Grechetto di Todi (which we know is Pignoletto). In all our readings, and indeed following our own tasting, we’ve come to learn that the majority of Grechetto wines produced in the Colli Martani appear to be produced from ‘Grechetto di Todi’ = Pignoletto :) Is that really the case ? We’d love to hear from some Colli Martani producers.

And so it goes for Grechetto in the rest of Umbria’s wine producing areas.

No-one really knows, especially not us newbies. That said, even though it’s coming as news to us now, it appears the word has been out since 1999. With such an administrative fog hanging over the Grechetto variety, one would think it doesn’t help its cause. For sure it doesn’t really assist winemakers when labelling their wines. And it certainly doesn’t help consumers in their efforts to seek out and learn about the potential of this ancient Umbrian grape and its wines. Now maybe there’s a good local reason for the status quo and if so, then so be it. We sure ain’t intending to crush anyone’s grapes here.

We’re just supposing, to bring some ‘clarity to the conundrum’, mightn’t the most obvious route be to rename Grechetto di Todi? Wouldn’t it help Umbrian winemakers and regional regulators alike, if the Italian grape registry was simply updated? And wouldn’t it be so much easier for the consumer to identify one varietal wine from the other.

As you can imagine, this unplanned spontaneous taste experience really sparked our curiosity. You see we know GRECHETTO is not the only Italian native grape whose origin is bathed in uncertainty. We’re thinking, for example, of VERDICCHIO and a couple of Trebbiano’s in the Veneto that appear identical to it. So we’re going to skate a while through this fog to see where it leads. Ultimately we hope it turns out well for Grechetto di Orvieto & Grechetto di Todi, whatever identity the stakeholders go with.

Here at THENATIVEGRAPES.com we realise you can’t always get what you want.

Hey, it goes with turf.

But if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.

Anyone for a PIGNOLETTO di TODI?
GRECHETTO di ORVIETO, are there any takers?

Let’s see if our curious little STONES will ROLL all the way down to Umbria.


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