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Trip to Umbria

12.26.11

Do you know where Umbria is?  It is one of the smallest Italian regions, located in central Italy, and is landlocked.  The capital is Perugia.  In preparing for our trip, I did a little research.  Every wine has “terrior”

and I wondered what we would find in the terrior of Umbria.
Umbria is bordered by Tuscany to the west, the Marche to the east and Lazio to the south. Mostly hilly or mountainous, it is the only Italian region having neither coastline nor common border with other countries.
“In literature, one sometimes sees Umbria called il cuor verde d’Italia (the green heart of Italy). The phrase is taken from a poem by Giosuè Carducci — the subject of which is not Umbria but rather a specific place in it, the source of the Clitunno river.”

The Tiber river forms the approximate border with Lazio. The Tiber’s three principal tributaries flow southward through Umbria. Southern Umbria opens into a large floodplain.
“In antiquity, the plain was covered by a pair of shallow, interlocking lakes, the Lacus Clitorius and the Lacus Umber. They were drained by the Romans over several hundred years, but an earthquake in the 4th century and the political collapse of the Roman Empire resulted in the reflooding of the basin. It was drained a second time, almost a thousand years later, during a five-hundred-year period: Benedictine monks started the process in the 13th century, and the draining was completed by an engineer from Foligno in the 18th century.”

Umbria’s winemaking history can be traced back to the Benedictine monks, who were the first to plant vineyards in the calcareous clay and sandy soil that extends over much of the region.   Regional varietals include the white Orvieto, Torgiano (made mostly from Sangiovese), Malvasia, and Rosso di Montefalco. In addition they grow Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir.  It will be fun to taste the wine made from these grapes in a new region.