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2023, The Year of The Farmer - Corrado Battai of Tenuta Le Velette, Orvieto DOC, Italy

Most of Orvieto is beginning the harvest this week. It has been an intense season all over Italy. Climate change is real - people are adjusting and learning.

I hear producers talking about how the different grapes are responding to the events of the season. In a place like Orvieto, where Italy's grand and historic white wine is made with a complex blend of local, traditional, and international grapes, this diversity is a benefit in these unpredictable times. The outcomes are to be learned. The early budding (and very late budding), plus those which ripen very late, may provide solutions to making great wines even in challenging vintages - like Procanico (the local biotype of Trebbiano Toscano), and Sangiovese.

Yesterday, I spent the evening at Le Velette in Orvieto with owner & winemaker Corrado Battai. One thing I like most about Corrado is his irreverence - for him, wine should be purposeful & pleasurable, not prestigious. He makes wines (white Orvieto DOC and Red IGT) ranging from refreshing wines of thirst to wines to accompany the profound flavors of the region, like truffles and game. Enchantingly, all of these wines, which are delicious now, can humbly can age for decades!

Corrado is experimental and dynamic; he lives very much in the moment - in a house whose cellar was first quarried by Etruscans, inhabited by Romans, then the Jesuit Priests, and on and on until his family acquired it in the 18th century.

 Tonight the smell of roasting peppers, cooking for his 95-year-old mother who lives here, wafted through the house..

Always gracious and casual with his old dog Ombra (shadow) following behind, Corrado is improvisational in his curiosity and actions. He says, "Life is a series of experiences that are always different."

About this vintage, where many are worried, he says, "This is the vintage of the farmer. I love this vintage; it is what you imagine it to be; it is drama and possibilities". I personally, am sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what he makes of it!

Tonight Corrado welcomed my family and me to Le Velette, and led us through the extensive 16th-century cellars, fervently seeking a wine that represented each of our birth years –without ceremony. We laughed and shared in trying to identify the faded vintages on the bottles as he passed them out, flashing his infectious smile.

After our visit and discussion about the Orvieto and the identity of its terroirs, people, and wines, Corrado drove us through the winding Umbrian hills, as the sun set on the volcanic protrusion of the town, with its magnificent cathedral in silhouette - back to the cool of the hilltop, where we ate and drank into the night!

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