Discovering Italian Whites

Time to do a little cellar cleaning and what better way to start than with the odds and ends of Italian wines that have been building up in the basement. Sadly theres no real cohesive theme here, though a few varieties do appear more than once among the tasting notes that follow. There’s not even a pricing paradigm that’s  useful here, though most of the wines do fall in the $15 to $22 range. In one way that’s not a bad thing. It’s always interesting to see how wines stack up against each other and where the values really lay. 

For the most part the more expensive wines here did outperform the less expensive wines with one important exception. Tedeschi’s 2010 Soave Classico Capitel Tenda ($15) was stunning on this occasion, a real precise and deep example of often overlooked Soave and if history is any guide, this wine has a very bright future ahead of it. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a case to enjoy this summer and over the coming years. It should prove fascinating to follow over the course of its five to ten year lifespan.
This of course is exactly why I do what I do. Ferreting out values, and identifying wines that might be best avoided are what this is all about.  Of course there i a huge educational component involved as well, particularly in instances such as this where disparate wines are pitted against one another. You have to know what a wine is like, and what your palate preferences are before you really can make much use of these results listed below. 


If you prefer fruit bombs or a lot of oak influence on your white wines you’re not going to dig the Soave as much as I did. In fact in generally Italian whites might not be the spot for your to be tasting around in in that case. Generally rather clean and fresh, the world of Italian white wine is one fo the most diverse in the marketplace today and with that diversity comes a lot of confusion. 


To simplify things just a bit, and to make use of the results of this tasting, I’ll just touch on the winning wines here, those that pair value and quality. The Tascante, at $22, is a fabulous wine though it comes out at the top of the pricing scale. Carricante is an ingenious white variety of Sicily and it tends to produce rather subtle, elegant wines with plenty of savory character and minerality. I love the grapefruit edge I often find in good examples and while the Tascante is riper, it packs in tremendous nuance which made it my favorite wine of this bunch.


I’ve already touched on the Soave so next up is the 2012 Cantina del Taburno Falanghina. Not the most common variety, and rarely found outside of Campania in Italy, Falanghina is an ancient variety.Reputed brought to Italy by the Greeks, it’s one of history’s great wines, and today the variety is as good as ever. A bit herbal on the nose with a pleasant bitter twist on the palate, it’s a really food friendly wine and one that in a sea of insipid crisp white wines often stand out with it’s distinctive character. 


Next up, both literally and figuratively, is the 2012 Goretti Grechetto ($16) from Umbria. A bit of a shy cropper, though with noteworthy resistance to disease, Grechetto historically was a component in Umbria’s famous white wine from Orvieto. Incidentally, if you ever get a chance to visit Orvieto the town is lovely and the cathedral, breathtaking! The wine’s not bad either.  Goretti’s example comes from further to east, the hills around Perugia, and captures the beauty of this variety with it’s savory transparency and firm structural components. Another example of a nuanced and not particularly fruity Italian white.


Rounding out my top five wines is the 2013 Casale Marchese Frascati Superiore ($13) from Lazio, near Rome. Frascati is a light, fruity and simple wine. That’s just the way it is , and in the right moment it can be brilliant. Refreshing, friendly, and easy on the wallet. Zesty with citrus fruits and a hint of minerality, this is what August requires: a fine bottle of chilled Frascati, preferably accompanied by a chilled seafood platter!


Grechetto is one of the allowable grape varieties in Frascati, though most examples are heavily dependant on Trebbiano with a bit of Malvasia for perfume and perhaps a dollop of Grechetto for structure. The example from Casale Marchese includes both Trebbiano and Malvasia, along with two more obscure varieties: Bellone and Belvino. Try a bottle this summer and you can cross those two varieties off your century list!


So that’s a brief rundown on a few Italian whites that you might want to try this summer. No need to be intimidated by all the wines out there. Find a few to try, and see what you like. If you enjoy any of these wines, there are other examples from different producers that can help you learn whether it’s the grape variety or blend you enjoy, or the producer’s style. 


That’s the key to learning about wine and enjoying it ever more. Fortunately for us the research involves drinking the stuff. I don’t think you have an excuse for avoiding your research, so get out there and add a new italian white to your summer repertoire this weekend!



Tight and focused on the nose with some waxy notes and hints of apricot pits followed by effusive white flowers, hints of  cotton candy, mint and ginseng. Rich in the mouth but at the same time this is rather clear on the palate, light and fresh, if not particularly bright. The fruit is beautifully detailed with notes of citrus, raw cashew, suggestions of honey and tart orchard fruits all coming together elegantly on the palate. A fine salty mineral note punctuates the backend along with some contrasting bitter pithy notes  and hints of peach skin that add fine detail through the long, salty and decisive finish. Lovely stuff. Really shows great depth of flavor and solid length. 92pts



Deeply aromatic on the nose with waxy base notes, lots of polleny accents and hints of peppery spice, incense, and dried peach fruits. Rich and slightly waxy on entry, this shows powerfully in the mouth with fine mouthgrab and a wonderfully well knit together texture. The flavors of peach and slightly honeyed citrus fruit are bright and vivid in the mouth along with a hint of flinty minerality on the palate. This freshens with air, gaining added cut on the palate and verve that lasts right through moderately long and well focused finish that shows an herbal accent to the almost salty fruit. drinking beautifully and at peak. 91pts



A bit stinky on the nose with lots of floral character and hints of steely minerality, honeycomb, and somewhat exotic persimmon and guava tinged fruit. Some trapped CO2 lends this a prickle on the tongue, followed by rather delicate but pure mineral and white floral flavors laid over a base of delicate peach tinged citrus pith flavors. This has great energy to it, and the minerality, and a subtle suggestion of herb, build on the palate and lead to a refreshing, moderately long but very clean and high toned finish. A bit feminine and very engaging. 90pts



Dried citrus rings and hints of dried floral leesy character greet the nose along with some  mineral notes, quite vitamin toned, and suggestions of honey, sweet almonds and orange blossoms. Wide and yet bright in the mouth, this shows off fairly complex flavors of dried citrus peels, a touch of dried herb and some spicy dried apple notes.  A little pineapple emerges on the midpalate which is rather elegant if fairly full.  Silky hands yet delicate on the moderately long finish where some dried apricot notes emerge along with the sweet nutty tone that was found on the nose. A lovely wine with hints of that vitamin tinged minerality popping on the finale. 90pts



A bit soapy and salty on the nose, this shows a bit of dried herbal character of green almost kiwi tinged fruit that picks up a dusty peach sweetness  and a hint of river stones with air. Medium full in the mouth and very well integrated, theres some bitter melon notes here early on the palate followed by pronounced minerality that lends this a slightly bitter quality lurking under the waxy and melony fruit. A touch of astringency keeps this engaging in the mouth and really calls out for some fat. Prosciutto and melon anyone? There’s really great material here, though this deserves to be served a bit warmer than typically is the case to allow the rich but subtle fruit to  show its best. Lovely finish, great texture and depth. 89pts



Deeply aromatic with dusty minerals, a bit of waxy fruit, incipient note of petrol, crayola crayon and chalk all adding nuance. Bright on entry and perhaps with just a hint of trapped CO2 helping to keep this lively in the mouth. the palate shows a similar array of savory character as the nose with more of a fruit profile, grapefruit peel, lime and a suggestion of almost strawberry or red currant fruit comes together nicely here. The finish is of modest length but fresh and precise with more grapefruit pith and mineral flavors.  This is complex, fresh and has a lovely texture, just a bit lean, with great flavor and intensity on the palate. 89pts



Slightly green and vegetal aromas on the nose recall garden vegetables  with hints of tomato leaf laid over rather sweet and slightly spicy lemon and lime fruits with just a hint of melon as well.  This is clean and focused in the mouth. At’s a narrow wine on the palate, but rapier sharp with lovely acidity supporting seashell like accent notes framing a core of slightly green tomato tinged citrus fruits. Retaining it’s focus right through the modest finish, this is a bit of an edgy wine with a pleasantly chalky character. 87pts



Lots of subtle dried floral character, butcher’s wax and dried apple aromas greet the nose. This is rather complex if savory on the nose and quite attractive with hints of chalk and apple stem adding detail. Light bodied and fresh with an immediate wave of pear fruit on the attack, this settles into more subtle orchard fruits on the palate with a nice rounded feel and some late arriving spice notes adding detail. Not terrible bright on the palate, it nonetheless remains fresh and painfully easy to drink with a tinge of yellow fruits, canned peach leading to the focused, dusty moderately long finish. With just a little creamy edge this should certainly prove to be a crowd pleaser. 87pts



Aromas of waxy, dried fruit pop from the glass followed by spicy herbal notes of mint and sage all floating above a tense base of peppery white fruit. A touch of trapped CO2 adds a prickle tot eh tongue as this shows off rather restrained flavors of white orchard fruits and lemon curd. There’s a lovely sense of minerality at the core of this wine, and the texture is polished and refined, it just lacks some intensity on the palate. The finish starts off slowly before building to reveal great minerality and a subtle bitter apricot finale. Elegant to be sure but also to restrained. 87pts



Pretty fragrant on the nose with perfumy floral notes layered over some minty, sandy tones, a touch of fennel pollen and soft heathery citrus fruits. A bit soft, or rather broad in the mouth, this lacks a bit of brightness on the palate but does deliver lovely roasted lemon flavors with hints of sand and herbal floral top notes. The acids pops a bit on the backend and helps to add some drive to the fairly rich but short citrus, peach nectar,  and herb finish. Not herbal like Sauvignon Blanc but more in the chamomile and dried thyme vein.  Would be nice with a dimple fish preparation. 86pts



Reticent aromas of amber, carnations, gypsum and white pepper greet the nose. In the mouth this is smooth, almost slippery on the palate with a fine bright feel and simple yet attractive waxy yellow fruit flavors. the spice on the nose shows up a bit on the back of the palate as this transitions to a modest, refreshing and slightly spicy finish. 86pts



Very citrussy and fruity on the nose with complicating hints of peach and spicy, antiseptic, polleny floral notes. Juicy and a bit fleshy on entry with depth of flavor that recalls fruit nectar. this is in fact a bit thick on the palate with lovely peach tinged pineapple and clementine flavors. The creamy texture really becomes pronounced on the backend, though the modest finish shows a touch of refreshing austerity that help to refresh the palate. 85pts



With simple apple fruit on the nose this doesn’t reveal much aromatic complexity. On the palate it’s a vibrant wine, with bright acids supporting clean, crisp apple fruit that has some steely nuance to it. Clean and fresh, this is uncomplicated though has an attractive texture which is clean and easy to enjoy right through the modest finish. 84pts



Lime leaf and lemons show up on the fruity yet restrained nose along with some light mineral and pollen floral notes.  Lively on the palate, there’s just a hint of flesh here wrapping up the energetic acids that support the simple citrus and white peach flavors here. Ending with a lovely hint of almond and pithy citrusy flavors on the modest finish, this is simple and refreshing. 84pts



A touch of soapy florals greet the nose followed by light almond husk, dusty mineral, and dried lime leaf and apple skin aromas. Zesty yet small scaled in them mouth, this displays restrained flavors of dried citrus and apples over hints of iron and almost salty minerality. Finishing with modest length and just a hint of pineapple, this is pleasant and refreshing with some attractive complexity. 84pts



Rather intense on the nose with an odd combination of artichoke, balsamic spice, coriander and melon aromas. Rather neutral in the mouth with a texture that has decent supporting acids but at the same time seems a bit too slippery. There’s some modest citrus fruit present on the palate and a nice hint of complexity on the fairly long finish, but this just stumbles across the palate. 78pts


By: Snooth – Articles


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