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Italian White Wines

But not Pino Grigio

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Nothing against pinot grigio. It's the most popular of Italian whites, but there are any number of other delicious white wines hailing from that country. While the popularity of easy drinking, readily available pinot grigio is understandable—moving outside that comfort zone reveals intriguing alternatives with a bit more character. Here are the panel's top three "not pinot grigio" picks:

2012 Argiolas S'Elegas Nuragus di Cagliari, $156

The grape here, native to Sardinia, is nuragus, which is also the name for the ancient stone huts that dot that island. A bit of bottle aging has resulted in a darker, golden colored wine with unctuous honeysuckle and candied stone fruit aromas, along with a soft hit of sage. The palate is just as rich, marked by honeyed melon and lime, balanced by crisp acidity and citrus zest.

2013 Marchetti Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, $16

The Marche region borders the Adriatic on the east coast of central Italy—verdicchio is the primary white wine grape there. This Marchetti offers intense ripe white peach and melon aromas, backed by mineral and an intriguing hint of jalapeno. The flavors are round, ripe and richly textured, offering apricot and lemon custard flavors with a long, lingering finish.

2014 Vesevo Beneventano Falanghina, $20

Grown in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius in Italy's Campania region, falanghina is an ancient variety dating back to early Roman times. This wine's floral melon aromas are colored by touches of spring greens, herb and ginger. The lively tropical fruit flavors have a light creaminess and smooth texture that turns racy on the crisp finish.