When it comes to Italian white wines, if pinot grigio is the first thing that you think of, you are not alone. It's that country's most popular white, and understandably so. Millions of cases are imported into the United States each year and they range in quality from just so-so to quite good. But look beyond pinot grigio, and you'll find a world of exciting Italian wines. Here are the panel's top picks from our Not Pinot Grigio Italian White Wine Tasting.
2012 Avignonesi Vignola Sauvignon, $16.99
Originating in France, the sauvignon blanc grape can be found in most of the world's wine regions. Still, one from Italy, in this case Tuscany, is something of an oddity. The floral peach and melon aromas are laced with that light herbaceousness typical of the variety. A lovely mix of fruit flavors leads with pineapple, lemon, lime, melon and gooseberry. The finish is round and ripe with a lively persistence.
2010 Damilano Arneis, $16.99
This is the first of two wines made from the arneis grape, which translates as "little rascal," referencing the fact that it's difficult to grow. The nose is filled with unctuous fruit, with honeyed peach aromas reminiscent of a dessert semillon, backed by a touch of orange zest. There's an appealing richness to the palate, where ripe apricot and peach flavors play against crisp citrus on the finish.
2012 Vietti Roero Arneis, $23
With a history going back to the 19th century, the Vietti family winery was one of the first to champion the arneis grape, which by the 1970s had almost disappeared from the Italian landscape. This classic opens with elegant spiced apple pie aromas, backed by hints of smoke, white flowers and citrus. Creamy peach and tangerine flavors fill the palate, which is balanced by bright acidity on the finish.