For many people, Italian red means Chianti, or at least the Sangiovese grape that dominates that blend. For white, it's Pinot Grigio, but Italy is a remarkably diverse country when it comes to food and wine, with each region offering its own unique traditions backed by a dizzying array of different grape varieties. This week, we decided to explore some of that diversity by tasting a line-up of white wines with only two things in common: they were from Italy, and they weren't Pinot Grigio. Here are the panel's top picks:
2006 Colosi Bianco, $10.99
It's a blend from Sicily that is dominated by the noble grape Inzolia, which is also found in the best of Marsala. It often contributes a kind of nuttiness that is evident here in the black walnut aromas lurking in the background behind rich herb, sweet pea and caramel-laced Meyer lemon. A touch of honeycomb plays nicely against bright citrus on the palate resulting in a wine that is as rich as it is refreshing. This one is a very good buy.
2006 Inami Vin Soave Classico, $15.99
Soave is a white blend from Veneto, a region in northeast Italy, with "classico" being a higher classification. It's a bit closed in at first due to the high level of trapped CO2. That gas helps keep a wine fresh, but it tends to mute the flavors early on. Giving it a good shake released the CO2 and this Soave really came to life. Floral aromas of clover and honeysuckle are backed by bright citrus with a nice herbal touch. This one is lithe and lovely in the mouth with crisp lemon and ripe lime flavors that segue into a long and silky finish punctuated by orange zest. This lively wine begs to be paired with shellfish and bivalves.
2007 Terredora Dipaolo Falanghina, $15.99
Falanghina is an ancient grape variety native to the Campania region in southwest Italy. In the right hands it produces wine of real interest, and this example definitely spent time in the right hands. Spicy clover and smooth peach dominate the nose, backed by fresh floral aromas laced with a nice mineral quality that carries through on the palate. The crisp stone fruit flavors are complimented by light spice, while the creamy finish lingers nicely. Versatile food pairings would include seafood, roast fowl and pasta.
This week's panel: Dave Faulk, Porterhouse Meats; David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Karen McMillin, Young's Market; Kevin Settles, Bardenay.