Collio, in northeastern Italy, is home to some of the best white wines that the country has to offer. And, happily, their popularity seems to be growing: As more consumers are looking to branch out from the whites they have always tended to drink, the wines of Collio demonstrate a refreshing expressiveness that’s perfect right now. Both familiar grape varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio) and indigenous ones (Muller Thurgau, Friulano, Ribolla Giala, and more) are all permitted there, and these days, some excellent, very fairly priced bottlings are hitting wine-shop shelves on this side of the Atlantic.
I recently tasted two remarkable ones from Zuani, a family-owned producer in Collio, that bracket the stylistic possibilities here beautifully, and that embody so much of what makes the wines of this part of Italy so consistently appealing. I highly recommend them both.
Zuani Vigne Bianco 2011, DOC Collio
Steely on the nose, with aromas of slate, mineral, lemon and lemon pith, that lead to bracing, linear flavors of lemon and lime, crunchy apple, mineral, a touch of spice, and herbs. The finish hints at persimmon and a whiff of flowers, but it’s really about the mineral here. A brisk, fresh, well-delineated wine, and excellent at the dinner table.
Zuani "Zuani" Bianco Riserva 2010, DOC Collio
Richer, deeper color, almost a burnished gold. Aromas of autumn--apples, apricots, spice, preserved lemon skin, dulce de leche--run deep, and lead to vivid flavors of preserved lemon, mineral, white berries, and a hint of kumquat, as well as fennel seeds, butterscotch and caramel. Fabulous. From late-harvested grapes.