This is a tasting that I've thought a lot more about since leaving the city, and one in which I wish I could have spent more time analyzing each bottle with some wine books and dizionari nearby. Our host was the genteel Giuseppe Capuano of Vias Imports Ltd.. Despite the fact that he is from San Lazzaro di Savena in Emilia-Romagna and quite attached to the native grapes of his home region, he took us on an incredible tour of the white wines of Italy and her islands. East, west, north, south, Sicily, Sardinia... Even the German-speaking vineyards of Alto Adige/Südtirol were represented.
A restaurant would be well-advised to steal the following list to make a special wine flight dinner to celebrate the white wines of Italy. I can imagine the following going quite well with a multi-course meal, rearranged a little to ensure optimal regional food pairing.
2011 Istituto Agrario di San Michele all'Adige, Nosiola Trentino DOC, $23
The institute is an agricultural college in northern Italy focused on wine production, founded in 1874. Think about this as trying something from UC Davis. The grape is Nosiola, and it's very mild on the nose with lots of bright lemon on the palate. Great acidity and minerality, and certainly a perfect start to the tasting.
2011 Strasserhof Kerner, Valle Isarco DOC, $27
There's a good bit of German/Italian overlap in language, family names, and grapes in the far north. My first Kerner was the 2003 Klaus Zimmerling Kerner Trocken Landwein, brought back by California Girl after her 2005 vacation in Germany. This one was rich with honey, overripe peach, and a rich mineral aftertaste. Later notes of nutmeg. This used to be a popular destination for Germans in search of affordable, delicious wine before the Euro currency unification.
2011 Luisa Friuliano, Isonzo del Friuli DOC, $21
Wet stone and a mild floral note, with bright acidity. This grape used to be known as Tocai Friulano until the EU came along and the name was banned to avoid confusion with Hungarian Tokaji.
2011 Luisa Ribolla Gialla, Isonzo del Friuli DOC, $22
Somehow this was my first exposure to Ribolla Gialla, and I look forward to exploring this grape in the future. Exotic and fascinating with a nose of jasmine and orange peels, but a light and delicate body.
2011 Argillae, Orvieto DOC, $17
The name means "spirit of the soil" in Latin, and this one was a powerhouse of acidity. I found it a little harsh and bitter, but perhaps better enjoyed with food that will balance it out properly.
2011 Cataldi Madonna, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo DOC, $17
Light and gentle with a delicate body. A little small and lost in the shuffle, but something that I'd like to serve with quail and white asparagus for a calm first course.
2011 Terredora di Paolo, Fiano di Avellino DOCG, $24
This wine is entirely soil-driven, with elements of mineral and ash, chalk, and balanced acidity. Fruit comes and goes, but geology is forever.
2011 Statti Greco, Calabria IGT, $23
Clean and fresh, with a light and mild body. I've had stronger Grecos in the past, but it's nice to see a more austere presentation.
2010 Feudi del Pisciotto Marengo Grillo, Sicilia IGT, $33
Nutty with fresh-baked cookie notes and an acidic finish. The oak gives some serious structure to this particular bottle.
2011 Nuraghe Crabioni Vermentino di Sardegna, Sardegna DOC, $21
Rustic and exotic with characteristics of flowers, nuts, and fruit. Deep, firm body and a strong mouthfeel. Everything I could have possibly wanted from a Sardinian wine.
2011 Colle dei Bardellini Pigato, Riviera Ligure di Poenente DOC, $19
My first experience with Pigato, and Greg pointed out that if you ever detect the aroma of pencil eraser in your wine, there's a 50/50 chance that it's Pigato. I wasn't really sure what to make of this particular wine (I think my bottle was a bit oxidized), but I'm holding that tasting note in my pocket to win a blind tasting in the future.
2011 Maison Anselmet Chambave Muscat, Vallée d'Aosta DOC, $27
We concluded the tasting with an odd wine from a very stubborn and independent winemaker. Only 6,000 bottles of this were made, and the result is a Muscat that has the characteristic aromas of honey and honeysuckle, but is completely dry. I think everyone was expecting sweetness and was pleasantly surprised at the flavor. I'm not sure how I would serve this (there's a perfect cheese just out of my mental grasp), but I found it to be another true delight from this master class.
Check out these other great reviews of the same tasting! The V.I.P. Table "A Regional Tour of Italian Whites", The Reverse Wine Snob "Excellent Italian Whites - Exploring the White Wines of Italy Including Two Bulk Buy Selections", Vindulge "Learning about the white wines of Italy with Snooth – one region at a time", Wine Julia "#SnoothPVA: Indigenous Varietal Italian White Wines From North to South", My Vine Spot "#SnoothPVA: White Wines of Italy"
Note: This trip was provided by Snooth.