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Lemon drop, honey, and the haunting scents of spring emanate from the 2001 Il Palazzone Terre Vineate Orvieto Classico Superiore, a wine that can best be described as the concentrated beams of liquid sunshine. Drinking the Il Palazzone Orvieto recalls the natural, unadorned green and amber-hued hills, which surround Orvieto and roll in all directions from that most ancient and beautiful hill town. The wine, like the vaulted town of Orvieto itself, appears timeless - a cross between the ancient and the eternal. Combining the best attributes of the golden-hued abboccato, for which Orvieto was once famous, with all of the freshness and vivacity inherent in the best of modern winemaking, the Dubini family has fashioned a dry wine of grace, elegance, and distinction. This lovely Orvieto speaks directly to the senses, purveying a truly aesthetic quality, worthy of the city for which it is named. Serve the Terre Vineate moderately chilled.
In Orvieto, the wine that bears the name of Italy's most illustrious hill town is best known as an aperitif or a starter wine with a delicate first course. However, the 2001 Il Palazzone Terre Vineate is that and much more. Displaying more flavor and body than the average Orvieto, the Il Palazzone provides a wonderful accompaniment to fish, pork, and lightly smoked meats and cheeses. A simple grilled fish, served with a creamy polenta and a soft cheese, provides a first rate companion to the Terre Vineate. On an even heartier note, a traditional thick bread and cabbage soup with a cheese crust, the kind that is served in homes or local trattoria throughout northern and central Italy, also provides a fine choice with the Il Palazzone. Recently, some of our panel members indulged in a sautéed scallop dish in a cream sauce, with peas and baby lentils, served over homemade pasta, which they deem to be the perfect pairing with this Orvieto. But remember, the 2001 Terre Vineate is, also, just fine all by itself. Enjoy!
Il Palazzone is a stunningly beautiful estate, which sits atop a hill, overlooking the venerable hill town of Orvieto. A more appropriate testimony to the illustrious name of Orvieto would be hard to find. Both the estate and the wine at Il Palazzone due justice to the accolades and the unabashed praise that millennia of joyful Etruscans, Romans, and assorted moderns have heaped upon Orvieto and its lovely white wine. Orvieto Classico is certainly the most representative wine from Umbria, and it can also be one of Italy's most consistently delightful white wines. Unique among Italian white wines for its complex blend of five varietals, Orvieto is rarely an easy wine to make due to differing ripening timetables for each of the five varietals and the problems of proportionate blending. Yet, when well made, Orvieto can be truly remarkable and age worthy, too. For many years, Orvieto was a semi-sweet wine, not unlike Vouvray, but today nearly all Orvieto is vinified dry. Some producers still turn out small quantities of amabile or abboccato, the designations given to sweet Orvieto, but the very finest producers like Il Palazzone seem to impart a wonderfully rich and silky body and an intensely fruity bouquet to their wine, without the residual sugar that most contemporary wine drinkers eschew. Unfortunately, given the widespread custom of overcropping (producing too much wine from each vine), and the hasty, sometimes poor viticultural practices of many of the big commercial producers, Orvieto has lost some of the reputation that had made it a household name in Italy and abroad. Today, it is indeed tasking to find an excellent wine from this illustrious appellation. Fortunately, Il Palazzone Orvieto Classico Terre Vineate is a notable exception, reviving our faith in this great viticultural area, which may, indeed, be the oldest continually producing white wine region in the world.
La Famiglia Dubini The Dubini family bought Il Palazzone in 1970 and by 1972 they had resurrected and restructured a neglected property into what has become the model estate in Orvieto. The semi-abandoned country house was fixed up and 40 acres of vineyards were planted on soils of volcanic origin with ideal southeastern exposure. Initially, the grapes at Il Palazzone were simply harvested and sold to other producers, but by 1984 small quantities of grapes, selected from the finest plots, were vinified, and the limited production estate bottled. The results demonstrated superior quality and even greater potential, so much so that today Il Palazzone vinifies their finest grape selection for an average of 30,000 bottles; this constitutes only one fifth of the potential production. True commitment to quality does not exist without a sacrifice. In 1988 the winery at Il Palazzone was totally rebuilt, so that the estate can boast a formidable cellar capacity, all in stainless steel tanks. This allows the Dubinis to practice strict grape selections and blend accurately and proportionately the five distinct Orvieto varietals: Orvieto, Procanico, Verdello, Grechetto, Malvasia, and Drupeggio. These facilities also guarantee the employment of a soft pressing of the grapes and a temperature controlled fermentation for "Terre Vineate". I t is just such practices that set Il Palazzone apart from the vast majority of Orvieto producers. It is obvious that Dubini seeks not only an overall generic improvement in Orvieto with each subsequent vintage, but the ultimate Orvieto - a wine of true grace, charm and character that is suitable for ageing and capable of gaining complexity, Molto bene!
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