Ortrugo is a white wine grape native to Italy. Its original name was ‘Altruga’ but this was something of an insult and meant ‘from somewhere else’ or ‘another grape’ but not one to be highly considered, despite it producing consistently acceptable yields of enjoyable, lemony-crisp whites. It was initially used for blending and it was only in the 1970s that local vinegrowers decided to vinify it on its own. Today Ortrugo is the most common white wine grape in the Piacenza area. Historically it was mainly used for blending –the name comes from “Altruga” or “Artruga” meaning “the other grape” in the Piacenza dialect. Thanks to the foresight of some producers, who started making Ortrugo on its own, it was rediscovered as a wine in its own right in the early 1970s, and still enjoys success today, even outside regional boundaries. This renewed interest led to its attaining DOC status at the start of the 1980s. Ortrugo is mainly made as a semi-sparkling and sparkling wine, but recently a still version has become popular with the public.
Where grown: In Emilia-Romagna Ortrugo’s stamping ground is the Piacenza area (the Ardia, Nure, Tidone, and Trebbia valleys or Colli Piacentini where it features in the Colli Piacentini DOC and Colli Piacentini DOC Vin Santo. In Lombardy it is found in the Oltrepo Pavese. The variety’s crisp green apple acidity is useful for the sparkling wines.
See Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014).