The hill on which the Le Velette estate is situated, to the east of the rock on which stands the town of Orvieto, has always been a point of great agricultural and strategic interest in the course of its three thousand year history. The position, controlling a good part of the valley of Orvieto, the volcanic terrain exposed to the sun from dawn till dusk, and the special microclimate with significant thermal swings between night and day have always been its good fortune.
An ancient grape variety that has always been cultivated in this area, one of the main grapes in Orvieto D.O.C., Grechetto is noted for producing grapes of great polyphenol character. The wine it produces, of intense golden yellow colour with traces of spice and vanilla, is rich and full, of good body but with a nice freshness that ensures its longevity. Exactly like the grape variety it comes from, Sole Uve has no fear of time. On the contrary it thrives on it, maturing and evolving in a challenge with no losers.
A result of curiosity to know the real potential of one of the most interesting and special grape varieties of the area, Sole Uve is the new that is born of the old, the fantasy that is born of experience. A rustic wine, pure and decisive, it goes perfectly with the typical dishes of Orvieto tradition, bruschetta, crostini, polenta and typical cold pork meats as well as risotto and rich first courses based on meat. Origin of the name: Sole Uve from the best Grechetto grapes, the ripest ones that have been turned gold like the sun.
Harvesting takes place in the last ten days of September when the fruit is very ripe and rich. Here we have grapes which require a treatment which is the very opposite of what we do with Sauvignon blanc. The grapes are very hardy and actually benefit from contact with the air. Half of the must is fermented in stainless steel at controlled temperature for 10 to 12 days. The other half is treated in the traditional manner, in oak barrels, with no temperature control so as to encourage the rustic quality of the grape. It then rests on the lees for 3 to 4 months, getting smoother, rounding off the sharpness of its tannins. When the batonnage phase is over, it matures another 2 to 3 months in tanks and then it is bottled in May and put on the market after bottle aging of at least 6 months.
The first to see its great wine-growing potential were the Etruscans, the people who had already in the 7th century B.C. imported the vine from the Greeks. They certainly used the hill as a rural settlement for its cultivation and dug grottoes in the tufo rock, (just as we still do today), which offered excellent conditions for wine conservation. During Roman times, the hillside kept its wine-making role but developed significantly also as a strategic check point: right in the middle of the present estate, where Villa Felici stands today, a control tower was built and a resting-place for travellers, which led to significant development in the area.
After a difficult period of Barbarian and Longobard invasions, the area regained great importance as papal state land. In this period the Etruscan grottoes were extended and became a safe refuge and place of worship for the first monks who settled there soon after.
With the advent of feudalism, the area passed into the hands of the Negroni counts, feudal lords of a nearby village, preserving its wine-making function for centuries before being given in endowment to a monastic order by a descendent who had become an abbot.
At the unification of Italy everything went to the city of Orvieto, which sold the estate to the Felici family. And so began the first experimentations in the vineyard and the cellar which led in very few years to the production of excellent wines, as is testified by the medals won in that period in Roman oenological competitions. The estate’s wine went into commerce in the new-born Italy.
The fundamental step towards modern viticulture and oenology was taken in the 1950s when the brilliant Tuscan agronomist, Marcello Bottai, and his wife Giulia, a descendent of the Felici family, chose to make the estate their home and life project. This was the start of a period of development geared to a proper appreciation of the full potential not only of the firm but also of the whole district. The production of high quality wines was established along with the setting up of systems for the development and protection of Orvieto viticulture. A fundamental move was the foundation with other producers of what would become the present consortium for the safeguard of Orvieto wines. An absolutely innovative vision for the times that the young couple not only had had the wit to conceive but which they also had the courage and determination to bring into existence.