Category: Italian White Wines – But Not Pinot Grigio

Gavi – a Great Spring & Summer White Wine

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text] White wines from Italy are very often over-looked by the wine geeks, mostly because of the mass-produced, insipid versions of Pinot Grigio that appears on most low-end Italian restaurants.  HOWEVER…what we found over the years is that Italy produces wonderful white wines, if you are willing to experiment a bit – with many quality wines under $20 per bottle. We saw a great article by one of favorite wine writers, Lettie Teague, in the 4/11/15 issue of the Wall Street Journal.  Ms. Teague talks about her early love affair with Gavi – a popular wine from the Piedmont region.  In her words, “Gavi offered a more stylish alternative to other Italian whites such as Frascati and Orvieto, was almost as popular as Pinot Grigio (in the ’90’s) and it was just as easy to say (“Gah-vee”). But perhaps more important, it was the favorite wine of my boyfriend back then. (Love stories of wine often begin with love stories of a different kind.)” We have always loved Gavi, since our first trip to Italy in the ’80’s.  Gavi is a DOCG wine made from Cortese, which is found predominately in the province of Alessandria near the Ligurian boarder.  […]

Continue Reading ...

Lugana – A Beautiful Wine from a Beautiful Region

We happened on this wine at our favorite Italian trattoria in Sarasota – Cafe Epicurean – when we asked for a white wine that would work with a large variety of flavors coming to our table.  The waiter brought us Lugana from San Benedetto (2011), and we loved it.  The price was modest for any restaurant ($28), so we set out to find some for our selves.  We found a few bottles at the Total Wine at $15. Lugana is not an area we knew – it sits on the border between Lombardy and the Veneto on the south end of Lake Garda, part of the fertile Po Valley plain which is just a stones throw to Northern Italy’s lake country and the glacial foothills of the Alps.  The major grape of this region is Trebbiano – which is not a very well regarded varietal in Italy.  Trebbiano is mostly used to add to other white grapes such as Garganega.  However, when cultivated properly, and when not over-produced, this grape can easily be used to make some exciting wines. What makes Lugana so special is its food-friendly quality – it worked well with crisp calamari, then somehow matched with a […]

Continue Reading ...

Garganega – But It's Soave By Any Other Name

Soave is one of those wines that is sometimes ignored by the serious wine drinker, and mostly misunderstood by the casual wine drinker.  Many folks cannot tell the difference between Soave and Pinot Grigio – primarily because the same grape is used in both.  Although I poke fun at Pinot Grigio (like Miles in Sideways saying, “No more f****** merlot”), there are a few noteworthy Pinot Grigio wines that have made it in the house of the SeriousFoodie (the amazing wines from St. Michael-Eppan in Alto Adige and the Attems from the Venezia-Giulia region, which is a 20 under $20 wine).  But the focus here will be on Soave, which is the best expression of garganega in our opinion. Garganega is, unfortunately, over produced in Italy, and most of the over produced product ends up being labeled Pinot Grigio.  But in the Soave region, especially the Classico zone, yields are lower, and the best flavors of the grapes come through – think citrus fruit like lemon or lime, and some nutty flavors like almond or hazelnut.  Garganega is the main grape of Soave (at least 70%), but can also be blended with Trebbiano and Chardonnay. In addition to Soave, Garganega […]

Continue Reading ...

Falanghina – Hard to Pronounce, Great to Drink

While wondering around one of the local wine stores a number of years ago, we stumbled on a white Italian wine with an unusual name in an unusual bottle from a producer in the Campania region called Taburno.  For a price of $17, it was worth a try.  Since that time, it is one of our favorite Italian white wine, especially for the summer months. The wine has gained in popularity over the last several years, as more and more people experience the unique characteristics of Falanghina, and many of us wine geeks write about it. This grape grows well in the southern Italian regions of Basilicata and Campania.  A great description of the Falanghina grape and its history can be found on Viviwine.com. They note that Falanghina was almost lost forever during a phylloxera plague, but was brought back to life by the Martusciello family in the 70’s. The wines from Basilicata tend to have riper flavors, and are more full-bodied than the Campania versions.  The Campania versions tend to be more acidic, and have a refined structure.  It is typically a medium to full bodied wine, having lots of aroma of honeysuckle, stone fruits, honey, but with some […]

Continue Reading ...

Roero Arneis

We are always trying wines, white or red, that will match well with lighter meals of salad and fresh fish.  We have several “go-to” wines from Italy, including Arneis, a white Italian grape from Piedmont, Italy. There are a number of growing regions for this special grape, most commonly found in the hills of the Roero, northwest of Alba, where it is part of the white Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) wines of Roero. We’ve also had wines from Langhe made from Arneis, which are also delightful. Arneis means little rascal in the local Piedmontese dialect, because it is indeed a problem child to cultivate.  It’s not so surprising to find that there are only a few handfuls of dedicated growers and producers of Arneis, but they are generally worthy of finding.  The Arneis wines are crisp and light in color, but with a full body.  The nose is typically floral with hints of mineral and lemon or lime. The taste is pronounced pear and apricot, sometimes with hints of melon, particularly cantaloupe and honeydew. We’ve listed the Arneis wines as great bargain whites, with most coming under $20, but there are a few which range a bit higher.  Here […]

Continue Reading ...

Vermentino – Mr. Versatile

This is the first in our series, discussing some very interesting white wines from indigenous Italian grapes.  We are always on the look-out for serious producers who focus on quality, willing to spend time in the vineyard to control flavor, and willing to use more labor intensive fermentation techniques to make a final product which brings out the best in their production.  The best of these wines will sing along side of food, especially those foods from the same regions.  Our first posting is about one of our favorites – vermentino. Vermentino is a late-ripening white grape variety, and is the primary grape for white wine  in Sardinia, and to some extent in Corsica, in Piedmont under the name Favorita, and in increasing amounts in the Tuscany region.  Vermentino also shows up in wines from other regions, such as Colle Solato from Umbria (we’ll review this wine in one of our next postings). The  Vermentino wine which often gets the most attention is the DOCG Vermentino di Gallura which is produced in the province of Olbia-Tempio, in the north of Sardinia.  It’s a good wine with mildly-flavored seafood, but it is difficult to drink alone or with other stronger flavors.  A […]

Continue Reading ...

The Italian White Wine Series: The Vermentino Grape

  This is the first in our series, discussing some very interesting white wines from indigenous Italian grapes.  We are always on the look-out for serious producers who focus on quality, willing to spend time in the vineyard to control flavor, and willing to use more labor intensive fermentation techniques to make a final product which brings out the best in their production.  The best of these wines will sing along side of food, especially those foods from the same regions. Vermentino is a late-ripening white grape variety, and is the primary grape for white wine  in Sardinia, and to some extent in Corsica, in Piedmont under the name Favorita, and in increasing amounts in the Tuscany region.  Vermentino also shows up in wines from other regions, such as Colle Solato from Umbria (we’ll review this wine in one of our next postings). The  Vermentino wine which often gets the most attention is the DOCG Vermentino di Gallura which is produced in the province of Olbia-Tempio, in the north of Sardinia.  It’s a good wine with mildly-flavored seafood, but it is difficult to drink alone or with other stronger flavors.  A classic Vermentino from Sardinia is straw colored (sometimes slightly green), […]

Continue Reading ...