Among the bulk of consumers, Italy remains synonymous with red wine. This makes sense, of course: Some of the most well-known wines in the world are Italian reds--Chianti, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino and the rest. But to define the astounding wine culture of Italy solely by its reds is to miss out on some of the most varied, food-friendly whites in the world.
Below are my notes on three Italian whites that I’ve recently tasted. What’s most striking is the range of styles they represent, the divergence in flavor profiles, and the thoroughly unique expressions they each embody of their place of origin.
Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Castello di Pomino Benefizio Riserva 2009
Gorgeously evocative nose, with nuttiness--almond skin and walnuts--and lemon oil to spare. These are joined by beautiful minerality, hard apricot, and a twist of something resembling fennel seed on the end. On the palate, flavors of concentrated lemon, tart green papaya, and cooled-off pastry shell are enlivened by vivid acid and a seam of minerality. The finish nods toward frangipan and toast, with a hint of charred vanilla pod and a bit of scorched earth, dried pineapple, and crunchy apple. Layered and very complex.
Arnaldo Caprai “Grecante” Grechetto dei Colli Martani 2008
The color here is starting to evidence some maturing, though it’s still a vibrant deep gold tone. On the nose, this white speaks of warm apple crisp with sun-warmed hard pears and persimmon, as well as a touch of nuts, a hint of quince, and subtly perfumed spice. Flavors of apple and hard apricot are enlivened by unexpectedly taut acidity given its age, as well as notes of almond. This is a savory wine, with a touch of brininess on the end of the mid-palate and throughout the finish. Self-confident and sneakily complex, it’s a wonderful food wine.
Attems Pinot Grigio 2010
Aromas of sweet stone fruit and lemon pastry creme and lifted further by a whiff of orange blossom. Flavors of nuts, apricot, apple, and hard peach are brightened up with zippy acidity, generous minerality, and something that reminds me of pineapple. A much more serious Pinot Grigio than what too many consumers still associate with the variety. Well-made and food-friendly.