Both red and white wine go well with seafood with olives and tomatoes. The meatiness of olives and the intensity of tomatoes support a light red wine, such as Ruffino’s 2001 Fonte al Sole, a Chianti-like wine from Tuscany (about $10), or a Valpolicella by Masi (about $12). Although I am drawn to Italian reds when I think of a sauce of tomatoes and olives, any lighter-style red wine from other countries, such as a breezy Beaujolais, or a California pinot noir, would also work well.
A white wine with zesty acidity, such as Orvieto, is a welcome match to balance the richness of seafood and cut through the pungency of the sauce. Orvieto, a hillside town in Umbria perched midway along the main Rome-to-Florence highway, has been a source of inexpensive, and often innocuous, white wines. Made from a blend of grapes, it has a reputation for blandness because many producers aim for quantity over quality.
Sergio Mottura is not one of those producers. His 2003 Orvieto Tragugnano reminds us why Orvieto once had such a good reputation. Made from grapes grown in his Tragugnano vineyard, this Orvieto is distinctive even though it does not come from the central and more prestigious Orvieto Classico subregion. He relies less on trebbiano and more on grechetto and other grapes that provide substance and character.
The heat during the summer of 2003 reduced yields and concentrated flavors even more. Mottura’s 2003 Orvieto Tragugnano is satisfying with slightly nutty overtones, an unexpected richness for Orvieto, and a lively citric zing. Stock up on it for the summer.
Sergio Mottura, Orvieto Tragugnano, 2003. About $12. (Distributed by Violette Wine Imports, 617-876-4126.)
May 13, 2004.