Friday, August 20, 2010

Three "Must Try" Italian Whites

Easily the least well known white grape variety to completely surprise you, Arneis has been quietly grown in northern Italy, in the Piedmont region, for centuries. It was once blended into Barolo to soften the tannins and harshness of the nebbiolo grape. Now that Barolo producers have switched to 100% nebbiolo wines Arneis has been bottled on it's own. The best examples seem to come from the Roero Hills, northwest of the town of Alba.

Guidobono has been one of my best kept secrets for a few years now. This winery produces excellent Barbera, and Nebbiolo, but their Arneis is the star!. Arneis is often described as being highly aromatic with forward pear and apricot aromas; palate stimulating with it's generous, refreshing acidity; and also mouth-filling with aromas that pass straight into the flavor profile. This is an outstanding example of this grape variety and compares to wines costing much, much more...a terrific value!

2009 Guidobono Arneis: under $17

Most of visitors to the small medieval town of San Gimignano rarely realize that a delicious white wine is produced here. The vineyards are planted to vernaccia grapes and, from my experience, finding good examples can be very difficult. The trick is always buying as fresh as possible, the wine should not spend any more than a year in the bottle. 

This is a 2009 vintage from Palagetto and it blew me away the first time I sampled it. Rarely does this varietal come packed with this much flavor and body. Typically, I find them bland, thin and lacking, but this one had exceptional flavors: great, tangy acidity and a nice array of Golden Delicious and Granny flavors.  

2009 Palagetto Vernaccia di San Gimignano: under $13

This blended white is a new project for the Cotarella brothers, Renzo and Riccardo, enologists and owners of the Falesco Winery. Falesco acquired a hillside vineyard site just south of Orvieto and found it an ideal region to grow both Vermentino and Verdicchio.

These two two grape varieties are perfectly suited to blending together. Vermentino typically suffers from underwhelming acidity with ripe Meyer Lemon-like fruit flavors and Verdicchio can often have an abundance of puckering acidity with green apple-like fruit flavors. Together, these varietals fold into each other to produce a very complex wine. This is a 50/50 blend and has not been barrel fermented.

2008 Falesco Vitiano Bianco: under $12 

No comments:

Post a Comment