4 must-have Italian white wines to uncork this summer
PUBLISHED: 11:20 22 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:15 22 June 2020
If you’re looking to branch out from your usual Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, it may be time to discover the high-quality and taste that unique Italian wines have to offer.
We spoke to Elena, wine expert and owner of Vinek Wines who shares her top four white wines from the beautiful Italian region of Piedmont.
Italy’s wine history dates back more than 4,000 years and the country is home to some of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Wine is an integral part of the country’s culture, so much so that it was once named ‘Oenotria’ or ‘the land of the vines’ for its abundance of vineyards.
“It’s that deep history, among other things, that makes Italian wines so special - let alone the incredible taste!” says Elena.
Over 350 native grape varieties are grown in Italy, and the Italians produce such extraordinary wine that millions of cases are exported across the world every year.
“If you haven’t little-known tried Italian wine made from indigenous grape varieties saved from obscurity, you are missing out on a world of heavenly aromas and incredible flavours.”
About the Italian region of Piedmont
True to its name meaning ‘foot’ and ‘hill’ in Italian, Piedmont is a land of mountains. Its hills provide heat, sunlight, water and nutrients, making it the ideal place for vineyards to flourish.
It is most known for its red grape varieties such as Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Barbera and therefore its red wines, but also boasts a deluge of white varieties that are just as delicious.
If you’re a fan of crisp, dry wine, with a punchy citrus flavour, this Erbaluce di Caluso is a must-try. The name Erbaluce references the bright, amber colour of ripe Erbaluce grapes. Dry Erbaluce with its refreshing vibrancy, floral notes and fragrant aromas of citrus, apple and a lingering minerality is unsurprisingly popular.
The nose of this dry white wine has notes of beeswax, honey and hawthorn, ripe peach, melon, and nectarine with herbaceous notes.
The palate is light, soft and rounded with fresh acidity. It’s a great match for raw and grilled seafood and vegetarian dishes.
Timorasso is considered one of Piedmont’s most exciting grapes, and that’s no surprise. The super-ripe grapes make for a supple, round wine with firm acidity and intense minerality that’s incredibly flavoursome. Timorasso wines age well, developing kerosene-like notes as the bottle ages and are at their best after maturing for a few years. Don’t be fooled by the mention of kerosene. Wines with this smell and taste can be just as (if not more) delicious as their fruity counterparts.
With a minerally nose and notes of apple and lemon, this white wine is both light and vibrant.
On the palate, it has a clean style with savoury notes and a light ‘almondy’ character. It goes well with spaghetti, risotto, seafood and medium-aged goat cheese. This Timorasso wine is also vegan-friendly.
3. Nascetta Langhe DOC 2017
The Nascetta grape is grown exclusively around the commune of Novello. Some wine connoisseurs define it as the future of Piedmontese white grapes.
Grown on iron-rich sandy-clay-loam soil using eco-friendly cultivation techniques, this beautiful Nascetta wine can be drunk instantly or is delicious when left to age to allow its intense flavours to develop.
The nose has notes of jasmine, tropical fruits and nuts, and the palate is very savoury and mature – the wines honey and balsamic character develops with age. Nascetta wine is perfect with white meat, fish, and traditional Italian dishes.
4. Arneis Langhe DOC Hortensia 2017
The ‘Arneis’ grape seems to be named after the unpredictable character of the grapevine itself. Despite this, if looked after properly, it produces exquisite, full-bodied wines.
The grapes for this Arneis white wine are grown in organic vineyards close to the winery, on gentle slopes with lots of sun.
The wine has an intense nose of white flowers and citrus, while the palate is fruity with typical almond-kernel bitterness on the finish and pleasant mineral notes. It goes beautifully with fish, white meat and light and medium-aged cheese.
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