Amaro Obsession



Orvieto, TR

An Ancient History in the Bottle

On Easter Sunday I decide to visit the city of Orvieto and in particular the Barberani Winery, which produces a fantastic wine portfolio exported almost all over the world, also a producer of Muffa Nobile a wonderful dessert wine with historical production roots, the whose goodness is unknown to many. While I was walking with Bernardo Barberani through the streets of the beautiful Orvieto, I was struck by a product displayed in the shop windows: L’Orvietan – Amaro Digestivo Corroborante since 1603. I decide to enter and by chance, asking informations, I met the producer who gave me the opportunity to have a tasting, after that I decide to buy a bottle and do for you an historical and organoleptic research that I can’t wait to share with you, Amaro Lovers. L’Orvietan is an Amaro, an after dinner digestive, obtained from the maceration in a hydroalcholic solution of over 25 herbs. The name L’Orvietan, refers both to the original inventor and to its place of origin. The first Orvietan was Girolamo Ferranti who on June 9, 1603 obtained the license for its sale on the public market from the City of Orvieto. The fame of Orvietan spread to all the principal marketplaces of Europe, conquering both the people and the nobility. Its far reaching popularity was connected to the figure of itinerant venders of medicinal potions. It became particularly well known in France where Cristoforo Contugi, who had inherited the secret blend from Ferranti, obtained the Royal privilege and right to exclusively sell it from the sun King Luis IV, in 1647. He then shrewdly used the sun as his Logo. L’Orvietan was all the rage for around two hundred years, with various more or less secret formulas. In 1655 Johannes Schröder published a recipe of his own for “L’Orvietan“ in his treatise Pharmacopeia Medico-Chymic, after which it was the pharmacists who continued to produce this famous Elixir. Pharmaceutical vases that bear the word “L’Orvietan” to identify their contents can be found in many of historical pharmacies of Europe. Its fame is amplified by the literature thanks to its presence in the first edition of “I Promessi Sposi” by Alessandro Manzoni and it seems to have been a universally known potion for protection against poisons, or even as a cure for love sickness as Moliere wrote in his “L’Amour Medicine”. At the end of the nineteenth century, Le Paulmier and Planchon, two French pharmacists published various formulas of this famous panacea taken from old documents and pharmaceutical treatises. Recently in a new study published by the National Academy of Sciences Letters and Arts in Modena, Patrizia castellani and Renzo Consoli established the real Formula of Orvietan. The Orvietan proposed to us today is repurposed in its original and secret formula with only 6% of sugar per liter. The Orvietan is made following the ancient dictates of a secret recipe arrived in the hands of the producer, Lamberto Bernardini in 500 years of history, which includes botanical elements such as angelica, gentian, galangal, carlina, rhubarb, mallow, cinnamon, wormwood, myrrh, ruta and lavender. In the mouth it is very dry, rightly bitter and strongly stand out on the taste buds genziana, angelica and assenzio. Perfect as after meal or mixed in a nice Negroni Bianco instead to use a classic Bitter. 

Matteo Zamberlan