Unsung Heros - Italian Whites

Scratching the surface of all that Italy has to offer

The Last Three
Sometimes one ends up with bottles of wine that don’t really fit anywhere in particular, so a catchy title like The Last Three seems like the perfect catch all ending to today’s work. In fact the wines showcased here are perfect to help illustrate my point. Italy is a big country when it comes to the sheer number of wines produced and one can find interesting wines from the North to the very South of the country. 
These three wines share nothing but their Italian-ness, which noting the origins of two of the wines might well be characterized as nominal at best. None the less that is the way we group these wines together. If they’re not Pinot Grigio then they’re some other Italian white. There are so many other Italian whites out there that this phrase is remarkably meaningless. My advice to you is to go buy something from Italy that you are not familiar with and taste it. Then instead of it being some other Italian white wine you can talk about these less well known and often obscure varieties as being floral or spicy, fruity or mineral, and not simply Italian. You’ll broaden your horizons and learn some things about wine, and no doubt about your own palate as well and that my friends is one of the greatest things wines can do for us, besides that lovely sweet buzz of course. Wine keeps teaching us. Teaching us about itself, ourselves and all whom we share wine with.
Finely floral on the nose with a gentle underlay of grassy, herbal tones, a hint of spice and some peach and lemon aromas.  Somewhat rich on entry, this quickly gains focus in the mouth as it delivers fairly straightforward flavors of minty toned melon with a touch of a honied quality. Rather large scaled and rich in the mouth, this ends with some dusty astringency and hints of bitter almonds on the rich, powerful finish.  A distinct and assertive wine that demands food, and the drinker’s attention, though this is not going to have a broad base. 87pts 
Quite assertively perfumed, this is bursting with notes of beeswax, amaretti, smoke, bitter orange rind, rosemary and toasty fennel seeds.Rich and rather broad in the mouth, though not lacking acidity, this lacks a bit of vibrancy on the palate as it delivers rather mineral spiked flavors of bitter melon fruit. This is a rather powerful and assertive wine that needs food but has a rather distinct and unusual character. The finish slowly takes on a rather interesting if unusual amaro like bitterness. I do continue to return to this glass. 88pts
This is 100% Fiano and a fitting wine to end with since along with Soave I consider Fiano to be among the finest white wines of Italy. This vintage of Kratos continues a long string of fine showings from Maffini. Rich with citrus, white pepper and dried floral aromas that are rather high toned and well defined. In the mouth this starts out as somewhat deceptively loose and subtle though air brings out some attractive almost tropical fruit base notes over which are layered classic mineral and spice accents. This is a fairly large framed Fiano that should be a lovely change of pace for many Chardonnay drinkers. 89pts

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  • You missed arneis

    Aug 22, 2013 at 3:24 PM

  • Snooth User: fwv
    104120 12

    thx. I will be in Trapani Sicily in 10 days and will keep an eye out for the Feudo.

    Aug 22, 2013 at 4:11 PM

  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    @fieldstree. One of the Calif wineries makes a fine arneis, might be seghesio. . . yes, here it is: Indigenous to the Piemonte region of Italy, Arneis is varietal that is well-suited to Seghesio's Russian River growing site. The varietal name translates to "little rascal" due to its challenging nature. Crisp lemony acidity with flavors of pear & melon. Try this wine with mild cheeses, risotto, or sushi.

    Aug 22, 2013 at 6:09 PM

  • Snooth User: petroniano
    1049228 20

    pigato in Liguria ?

    Aug 23, 2013 at 12:43 AM

  • Snooth User: AMurdaca
    1106166 21

    so how and where to go to buy these wines in Northern California?

    Aug 23, 2013 at 1:55 AM

  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    @AMurdaca - I don't drink whites except in an emergency, so I don't look at store shelves. . . . though did go to tasting for "high altitude" wines from Sicily. Actually that was in Berkeley at wine shop, cannot remember the name, Google Wines--College Ave and you probably will find a lot of them, it is on College about 3 or 4 storefronts north of Ashby on the east side of the week.

    Aug 23, 2013 at 2:11 AM

  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    @AMurdaca Shop is below, tho I would call and see what they have in stock:

    Vintage Berkeley
    2949 College Ave, Berkeley, CA ‎
    (510) 549-9501 ‎ · vintageberkeley.com

    daily wine · wine tasting

    Aug 23, 2013 at 2:17 AM

  • Snooth User: SM
    1097030 218

    A rather good post I believe, yes the average wine drinker needs to move beyond the supermarket Pinot Grigio rut and be adventuresome. The starting point is a good Soave or even better a Soave Classico, then the other usual suspects Frascati, Orvieto, etc.

    It seems as if Piemonte can make good white wine in addition to red wine, I just haven't found any in the tiny corner of the wine world I live in. The two Italian whites I have been most impressed with as of late are Fiano & Greco.

    As they give a much richer, fuller olfactory and palate experience then other Italian whites; yes they are more wild, but also much more intriguing and multi-layered than other basic dry Italian whites. If you are trying to get good value for money Italian whites you can't too wrong with Greco di Tufo & Fiano di Avellino.


    Solomon Mengeu

    Aug 23, 2013 at 12:07 PM

  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    @Solomon. I have heard there are 700-1000 different grapes in Italy that are used in wine, or perhaps it is can be used in wine. I have been buying some of them to get a feel for the grape new to me. Some have been or inexpensive $9 - 20. Also doing the same for Spain. Cheers. steve

    Aug 23, 2013 at 4:01 PM

  • Was a "red only" wine drinker for 2 decades, until an Italian ski vacation and a bottle of Friulano opened my eyes to the article's subject. Never looked back, and I think Italy is my absolute favorite source for white wines of all types.. Thanks for covering the subject! You could do 10 more articles and not scratch the surface of the variety of flavors and styles, of course.

    Aug 23, 2013 at 6:31 PM

  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    Actually I drink a few late harvest to TBA whites now and then

    Aug 23, 2013 at 6:37 PM

  • @steve666 Time to try some Vin Santo's from Tuscana and Sardegna.

    Aug 23, 2013 at 6:49 PM

  • Snooth User: luca chevalier
    Hand of Snooth
    533661 2,535

    Hi Greg ...can i help you "Scratching the surface of all that Italy has to offer"...about Soave you missed Pieropan (He is Soave), to understan Arneis is muche Better to taste (Cornarea, Generaj, or Almondo or Matteo Correggia), There is also a lot of difference between Langhe Arneis and Roero Arneis, (Like Chianti and Chianti Classico) the "true" Arneis is Roero Arneis...

    Aug 24, 2013 at 5:00 AM

  • Snooth User: luca chevalier
    Hand of Snooth
    533661 2,535

    ...Gavi or Cortese di Gavi, it's been "invented" by La Scolca that have the merit of letting Cortese to be Famous outside Gavi, but actualli there are mani Producers like Bruno Broglia making W/wines that lasts 10, 15 years....

    Aug 24, 2013 at 5:05 AM

  • Snooth User: luca chevalier
    Hand of Snooth
    533661 2,535

    ...you hit the point when you Mention Friulano (ex Tokai) it belogs to the same family of Sauvignon, (Sauvignon Vert) it's the wine that you drink everywere if you travel to Friuli Venezia Giulia, Collio and Colli Orientali del Friuli are the top region for the production, dont miss Villa Russiz, Castello di Spessa, Vigne di Zamò and Many others...
    Catarratto it's Ok but we think alsa about Carricante, growin' on the Etna Voulcano and givin' great Mountain Wines...Tenuta di Fessina is one of my favourites....
    Ciao Greg...

    Aug 24, 2013 at 5:11 AM

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