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Beyond Pinot Grigio:
Amazing Summer Whites from Italy

By Marita Leonard

W hen most people think of Italian white wines, Pinot Grigio is all that comes to mind. If we can get past the "Griggy" there is a whole world of beautiful, aromatic wines to be found around Italy. As summer approaches, this is a great time to familiarize ourselves with some of Italy's amazing choices of whites beyond Pinot Grigio:
Tocai-Friulano, a versatile wine with plump peach flavors with a spark of cleansing acidity, the signature wine of the Friulli-Venezia Giullia region. Cool and delicate single-vineyard Soave from Veneto. Trentino-Alto Adige, in the Dolomites next to southern Austria, offers us spicy and exotic Gewürztraminers, which are said to have originated in the Alto Adige town of Termeno. The exceptional terroir in Piedmont produces elegant Burgundian-like Chardonnay.
The whites of Southern Italy are sunny and young, mostly aged for less than six months in stainless steel. Meant to drink right away, the lively acidity and freshness of these wines enliven the palate and leave your mouth watering for more. Try some Vernaccia with some prosciutto and melon. Sipping on some Verdicchio while enjoying a plate of grilled seafood will whisk you away to the Adriatic coast.
I had the opportunity to taste some pretty amazing wines at the Marc de Grazia portfolio tasting which took place at Emeril's on South Beach. Six winemakers from different regions of Italy introduced their latest vintages and olive oils, while Llano de Grazia guided us on our wine tour and showcase the vast selections of the portfolio.

Fontaleoni Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Tuscany 2002 . $12
  • One of Tuscany's most famous wines. It was the favorite wine of the Medici family; served at weddings and princely feasts.
  • A bright straw yellow color; crisp & fresh, vivacious acidity. Tastes like fresh honeydew melon spiked with a splash of fresh lime juice

Tenuta di Tavignano Verdicchio "Misco", Castelli dei Jesi 2000. $20
  • Hails from a single vineyard on the Adriatic coast in Le Marche, "the land of verdicchio"
  • This verdicchio has come a long way from the fish shaped bottles of verdicchio's past
  • Smoky, nutty nose, reminiscent of pignoli or pine nuts, with hints of flowers and fresh green herbs. Soft and elegant on the palate with exotic fruit flavors and an almondy finish. Unbelievable depth and clarity of flavor

Gini Soave Classico Superiore, Veneto 2003. $16.99
  • Fresh pears, white blossoms, light lemon scent and an intense minerality. Vibrant acidity yet smooth on the palate with a creamy finish.
  • The Gini family's vineyard holdings include parcels on two of the best known hillside sites in the Classico zone; Monte Froscà and Monte Foscarino. The vineyards have belonged to the family since the 1700's

Paolo Scavino "Sorriso", Piedmont 2001. $30
  • An equal blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc made by the "Grand Master" of the Langhe Enrico Scavino and his daughter Enrica.
  • The elegant ripe fruit leaps out of the glass with a soft toasty whiff of hazelnuts.
  • This full-bodied wine is soft on the palate yet intense and complex with a beautiful apricot finish.
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