Italian white wine has more to offer than Soave and Pinot Grigio

There can be few people who have never tried an aromatic Soave from the volcanic soils of the west of the Veneto or a fresh, crisp Italian Pinot Grigio.

Visitors to Rome will surely have tried a glass of refreshing Frascati and I doubt there is anyone who has not put a glass of most fashionable sparkling Prosecco to their lips or sipped an Asti, the sweet Moscato sparkler from Piedmont.

However, Italy has a huge range of indigenous grapes in its portfolio and the country certainly has plenty to offer those who are bored of the usual wine list combo of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. Even the supermarkets have started to discover this treasure trove of Italian white wine and are beginning to include the likes of Sicilian Grillo, Piedmontese Gavi and Pecorino from the Marche in their own label ranges. Let’s look at some other white Italian wine that’s currently trending and some that may still be flying under the radar of many wine lovers.

Arneis is a white variety from Piedmont, now closely associated with the region of Roero, where it is the white pair to the red Nebbiolo. It produces delicate floral-scented wines, which are nevertheless full-bodied, with flavours of pear and apricot and perhaps just a hint of hazelnut.

Etna Bianco is produced on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. It is made of minimum 60% Carricante along with Sicily’s most widely planted white variety, Catarratto and others, such as Minnella or Trebbiano. Etna whites are usually high in acidity with fresh citrus fruit aromas and herbal notes along with a slatey mineral character. They may also have honeyed notes and a creamy texture from lees contact.

Gavi is produced from the Cortese grape around the town of Gavi in southern Piedmont. It is noted for its flinty, high acidity and bone-dry character, with delicate floral notes, lemon and green apple. Lying close to the coast, it is often thought to be more reminiscent of a Ligurian white than a Piedmontese one.

Fiano is a grape most commonly associated with Campania, although it is also grown widely in Sicily and Puglia. It is generally produced as a varietal wine and offers flavours of nuts, honey, flowers, spice and tropical fruit. Its most famous wine is the Campanian Fiano di Avellino DOCG, characterised by wonderful underlying minerality and vibrant acidity due to the mineral-rich volcanic soils of the area.

Greco di Tufo is arguably the most prestigious Italian white wine produced in Campania, principally from the variety of the same name with up to 15% of Coda di Volpe Bianca. The sulphur and tufa-rich volcanic and clay soils of the area lend the wine its mineral complexity and perfume. These crisp white wines are renowned for their aromatic citrus, pear and toasted almond notes.

Grillo is a Sicilian variety, originally famous for its role in Marsala wines. Now produced both as a varietal and in blends, it can give a fruit-driven, light, fresh wine with flavours of lemon and apple and some nutty hints.

Orvieto is the best-known wine from Umbria. Made from a combination of Procanico (aka Trebbiano Toscano), Grechetto and other white varieties permitted in the Viterbo province, it is generally a crisp, dry, peach-scented wine with moderate acidity.

Pecorino is one white Italian wine that is currently trending. Produced principally in Marche and Abruzzo, it is a dry, minerally wine with elegant floral aromas of acacia and jasmine.

Verdicchio is a versatile white variety commonly associated with the Marche and often considered one of Italy’s great white-wine varieties. It produces well-structured wines with fresh citrus flavours and a tell-tale bitter almond note. Its most well-known DOCSs are Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica.

Vermentino is grown extensively in Sardinia and Liguria. It offers refreshing acidity, attractive aromas of lemon zest, herbs and peach, a hint of salinity and a pinch of white pepper.

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