white_wineFor a very long time, we very rarely chose an Italian white wine – in fact, we mostly avoided it, considering Italian whites as large production, mass marketed fruit juice.  About 7 years ago, we were at a Wine Spectator event.  The place was paced, and it was hard to get to the wines we had on our list.  We passed by a booth for Cantina Terlano, from Alto Adige – there was no line, so we decided to give their (mostly white) wines a try.  It was truly an eye-opening experience.  Most notable were the sauvignon blanc (called Quarz) and the Gewürztraminer.  The sauvignon was enticingly exotic in the glass, having herbal aromas with a slight exotic fruit overtone.  The taste was reminiscent of the New Zealand, with multilayered fruits of mango, papaya, lime and red grapefruit, but still a bit of sophisticated flint.  The acid balance was very refined, creating a harmonious opulence with a long and impressive finish.  We bought as much as we could find, and still drink the Cantina Terlano wines on a regular basis.
Our goal has been to search out more of these small, dedicated producers who have found a niche for making wines that rise above the noise.  For the most part, some of the best Italian white wines are bargains under $20 (with the exception of the Cantina Terlano wines).Zenato LuganaWe recently came across a new find:  Zenato Lugana from the Lake Garda region of Northern Italy, made from a Trebbiano clone.  There is a lot of Trebbiano-based wines in Italy, and most of them are not worth mentioning.  This wine took us by surprise – it is extremely food friendly, matching well with fish, salad, and even some strong flavors – we tested it against our home-smoked salmon, and it stood up. The aroma is mild with apple-pear and a vague earthy undertone.  Unlike other Trebbiano-based wines, this beauty had a good acid balance, with a medium body. It had a nice mouth feel, good length, and left just a hint of sweetness. At a price of $14.95, this wine is a Best Buy.  We rate it a 4 on a scale of 1 to 5.

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