Enough variety for a lifetime of exploration!

These refreshing white wines to enjoy this summer are all Italian, not by design but because they all happened to star in recent tastings.

Italy has a bewildering array of native grapes, red and white, many specific to one region, that complement food very well.  Italians have always seen wine as something to accompany and complement food rather than dominate it. In the past, Italian white wines tended to be light and fresh, a sort of vinous squeeze of lemon to bring life to simply cooked fish and shellfish.

White wines with 14% or more alcohol are rare, and the use of new oak is generally restrained. Instead, you get light refreshing wines sometimes with herbal notes, often finishing on a slightly bitter almond-tinged note. This is a broad generalisation, but I think it holds true much of the time. It doesn’t mean the wines lack flavour; they are more subtle but every bit as enjoyable as something with more body. They are a great option for anyone tiring of a Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

The Arneis also called “white nebbiolo” or “little king”, which indicates the importance and noble character of this grape. It is one of the most important white grape varieties in (Northern) Italy and is actually only cultivated in Piedmont.  It is a crisp and floral variety, and has been grown for centuries in the region. The grape tend to be dry and full-bodied with notes of pears and apricots.

Verdicchio is a grape with real potential. I have been championing Soave for some years now; quality has improved as regulations have been tightened. It is no longer the blend, tasteless liquid our parents knocked back in the last century. Soave must be made from a minimum of 80 per cent Garganega, the quality variety of the region. The Classico bit is important, signifying the wine is made from grapes grown on the volcanic or limestone mountain slopes, rather than the prolific flat plains.

Tuscany – a land of red wines, but a great white makes its way. The two white varieties cultivated at Fanti Estate, Trebbiano and Malvasia, are used together with Vermentino and Viogner. Intense fruity notes of pear, papaya and dried apricots, are followed by citrusy fragrances of cedar and orange blossom, together with spicy notes of white pepper.

Grechetto is found mainly in Umbria and is best known as the primary ingredient in Orvieto. If yields are kept low, it can produce some very good wines. Spicy aromas with fruity notes of peach. Palate is robust and persistent, slightly tannic.

Pecorino is something of a rarity, recently revived in its native Abruzzo, where it has been grown for centuries. Scents of fresh fruit, accompanied by spicy notes and nuances of aromatic herbs, fresh and savoury on the palate. No relation to the cheese, although the two go well together, it is believed that the name comes from sheep (pecora) wandering through the vineyard snacking on the grapes.

The Tuscan Maremma offers incredible landscape jewels but also very high quality soils with a mineral character. Vermentino Toscana releases fruity aromas with notes of citrus, exotic fruits, apple and pear. Slightly herbaceous, which the component of Grechetto is found. On the palate it confirms its charm. The harmony between the freshness and the acid component, perfectly balanced by the fullness and roundness of the flavour.

Greco (maybe of Greek origin) is to both white (Greco bianco) and black (Greco nero) grape varieties, grown mainly in Campania in Southern Italy, and particularly associated with the Greco di Tufo DOCG. The best wines can vary from fresh and herbal to full-bodied with hints of stone fruit. In Calabria,  it is used to make the DOC wine Greco di Bianco.

Sun, sea, fertile soil and a mild climate are the elements that produce a unique Vermentino di Sardegna wine. The territory of Romangia di Sorso has always been known as the territory for the purchase of excellent wines, but also of fine grapes, which have contributed to the birth of the best Sardinian wines. Vermentino has an intense and continuous aromas with notes of pear and linden flowers, it is enriched with citrus and vegetable fragrances. The Kanimari is a dry and fresh wine, distinguished sour perception where the citrus fragrance is initially rediscovered.

All of these wines go well with lighter foods such as fish and shellfish, tomato-based pasta dishes, goat’s cheese, salads or simply to sip in that lovely sunshine.

 

 

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