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This is a fantastic straw hued Soave (Garganega) from the mother-daughter team at Adalia in the Veneto. Crisp and dry with a hint of grassy texture and a long mineral finish. Eben Lillie
Falanghina seems to be one of the great success stories of southern Italy, emerging from relative obscurity despite being a truly ancient variety into a nearly ubiquitous staple on the market. That has lead regrettably (and predictably) to any number of wines that fail to show the real virtues of the grape. Agnanum Falanghina is anything but predictable; produced from terraced vineyards of own-rooted vines ranging in age from 60 to nearly 200 year old, possible only because of the particular soil of the area, the wine is pure and piercingly mineral. The nose is tart, showing pithy lemon and orange with delicate white florals, notes of mint and lemon balm and a characteristic hint of peach pit. The wine is almost airy on the palate with a fairly soft texture and fresh acidity showing a more deliberately stone fruit character of yellow peach and fresh apricot with a delicate saline finish. it is an obvious match to simple fish dishes but would be equally suited to young cheese, Provencal cuisine, cured salmon, or pork tenderloin. Andy Paynter
Giovanni Arcari and Nico Danesi set out in 2006 to make Franciacorta in a style that paid more attention to the terroir of Lombardi than that of Champagne. Arcari e Danesi Dossagio Zero is the fruit of those efforts. Made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Blanc, both harvested for ripeness, the wine is powerful on the nose with golden apple, ripe peach, layers of floral notes and a pronounced toasty note. The wine is full, smooth and very dry with a lively mousse, ripe orchard fruit, kiwi, and a mineral undertone. Rich and forward, Zero Dossagio would pair beautifully with washed rind cheese, pear and Gorgonzola salad, soft scrambled eggs, coconut curry, or other assertive dishes. Andy Paynter
Crivella is made with fruit from Bianco’s oldest vines, including some planted in the mid 1800s by Riccardo’s great-great-something grandfather; such old vines are extremely rare, and while they produce very little fruit, it’s impossible for Riccardo to even think about replacing them. At a tasting in the shop a customer said, “Like Sauternes with bubbles!” which was a lovely way to describe the wine and its rich and unctuous character. made lively with fizz. While there’s no botrytis, Crivella is much more complex and detailed than all but the very best Sauternes. I’ve certainly never tasted anything like it — a stunning wine. Jamie Wolff Moscato d'Asti is usually a fairly light and simple affair, but this bottling has gravitas to stand up to the most complex, aged cheeses. If an old Stilton and Port sounds a bit much, try this invigorating Moscato for a bit of a lighter approach. John Rankin
After graduating with a degree in Economics in 2003, Francesco decided he wanted to make wine and found a farm in the foothills of Abruzzo where his family was originally from. The first time he saw Agricola Cirelli he fell in love. It’s now an organic farm where there are vineyards, olive trees, garlic, spelt, wheat, barley, figs and geese. Francesco has two hectares of Trebbiano that are grown on calcium and clay soils. Both fermentation and aging are done in stainless steel, and the wine is not filtered or fined. The wine is straw yellow in color and tastes of waxy green apples, pear and cured lemon peel. Try it with shrimp and orzo salad, Vietnamese food or even a veal schnitzel. Christine Manula
Mirco and Gloria Gottardi starting making wine back in 2002 on the Saint Michael hills, just outside the town of Bassano del Grappa in Veneto. For almost 12 years their property was covered in scrub brush, but over the course of two years they managed to plant 50,000 vines and 1,000 olive trees on 12 hectares. The vines are densely planted on volcanic soil to insure low yields, and the nearby mountains create significant temperature shifts between day and night. Although Vespaiolo is more commonly used to make Breganze Torcolato, a sweet wine, it also makes a fantastic dry white. Straw yellow in color, it has an intense nose of white flowers and citrus fruit. It’s lush on the palate, but has enough acidity to keep it fresh and cut through richer dishes. Try pairing it with asparagus, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, or really anything you would want to drink white with – it’s super versatile and delicious! Christine Manula
Unfined and unfiltered and so a bit cloudy — this wine is one of only two Proseccos that we know about that’s made with indigenous yeasts — and it's also totally natural in terms farming and all aspects of the winemaking. This has a ton of character (especially considering how bland most Prosecco is) — a little grassy on the nose with pear and apple aromas, and somewhat yeasty. The wine is very dry and actually quite elegant, with a good long finish; it’s really intriguing, perhaps a bit challenging, but the more I taste it the more interesting it becomes.
Fongoli’s Maceratum is a wine that is endlessly exciting to me. Made from Trebbiano Spoletino, as opposed to the much more common Trebbiano Toscano, the Maceratum is a complex orange wine that shows depth but maintains lift and freshness. Harvested in late October, when the grapes have ripened fully, the must is fermented in open vats on the skins for 10 days with daily punch downs to keep the cap moist and gently extract color. The resulting wine is a deep copper color with a spicy nose showing apricots, preserved lemon, and fresh oranges with a touch of dry hay. The palate comes through with tart golden apples, yellow peaches, and more apricots layered over present ripe tannins and braced by bright acidity. The finish is persistant and quite mineral with refreshing lingering fruit. The structure of this wine lends it to carefree food pairing: try it with shrimp risotto, braised pork with baked apples, grilled peaches, washed rind cheese, or whole fish finished with spicy chutney. Andy Paynter
Giol’s Sur Lie Prosecco is consistently one of my favorite bottles of bubbles. Its organically farmed, vinified without sulfur, dry, and very refreshing, not to mention the fact that it costs well under 20$. Some people might be put off because the wine is fairly cloudy in the glass due to never being disgorged; but, the nose is bright and lemony with a slight salty note. The palate is bone dry with a refreshing mousse and tart green apple notes. It is lifted and very clean, well suited to food with its slightly bitter finish. Try it with oysters on the half shell, bacalao on toast, olives and cheese, or with eggs for brunch. Andy Paynter
Bettigna Vermentino is a classic example of the grape from a region known for Vermentino (or is it known for Pigato?): the Colli di Luni straddling the border of Liguria and Tuscany. Fairly deep and golden in the glass, the nose is dense with ripe stone fruit and golden apples with subtle notes of honeysuckle and thyme and a whiff of zesty citrus. Medium weight on the palate with real focus, the acidity and mineral tones of the wine make the fruit seem leaner but in a refreshing way with a saline and slightly bitter finish. Fairly bracing by itself, the wine shines with food; it would suit flounder simply fried, skate with pesto, or any delicate fish quite well. Andy Paynter
When confronted with a sparkling wine made from a grape that usually isn't carbonated, I have to say that I am pretty tentative about taking the plunge; but time and again my skepticism proves to be unwarranted. Such was my experience with Garg’n’go, La Biancara’s sparkler made from Garganega, which is frankly delicious. A slightly turbid straw gold in the glass, the nose shows pronounced notes of ripe stone fruit, a yeasty character, preserved orange zest, and pear blossom. The texture is lush and creamy braced by a tight bead and great acidity showing more orchard fruit and a slight tropical note. Refreshing on its own, try Garg’n’go with summer salads, soft and washed-rind cheese, sashimi, or fried fish. Andy Paynter
La Stoppa’s Ageno cuveé is named for the original founder of the estate, Giancarlo Ageno, who planted the first vines here in the 19th century. Those cuttings, originally all french varieties, have since been replaced by varieties indigenous to the region in a process that also saw the estate convert to organic agriculture beginning in the 1990s. While certainly not made with the french varieties planted 100 years ago, the Ageno Bianco is a stunning wine. Primarily Malavasia di Candia Aromatica blended with Ortrugo and some Trebbiano, the wine is macerated for 30 days on the skins, rested for a year in a mix of stainless steel and old barrels followed by two years in bottle. The color is striking, showing deeply bronze and slightly turbid with some sediment, but still quite vibrant. The nose is, as you might expect from a grape called Aromatica, intense with deep ripe Cara Cara oranges, layers of baking spice and mid-bloom apple blossom with hints of honeycomb. The palate is dense, and there is a nice balance of fine-grained tannin with refreshing acidity. The wine is bone dry but not austere or astringent with very ripe citrus fruits, juicy yellow peaches and a long finish. Recently enjoyed with shrimp scampi, this wine would pair well with rich but not oily fish: think scallops seared in butter, monkfish torchon, or squid. Serve very slightly chilled and enjoy. Andy Paynter
Timorasso is a golden-colored grape from Piedmont's Colli Tortonese. Aside from Gavi and Moscato, Piedmont is not well known for white wines, and Timorasso has a bit more richness and weight compared to most white wine grapes. There's a bit of spice and an almost nutty character that complements marmalade and orange fruit tones. This wine is very interesting to try as an example of an heirloom variety that almost went extinct, and it is extremely capable at the dinner table for anything from seafood, Middle Eastern food, or rich pastas. John Rankin
The 2014 Sant’Erasmo Bianco is a striking wine grown on the island of San Erasmo within the lagoon of Venice. Premised on Malvasia Istriana but comprised of a number of other local cultivars all planted on its own root stock, the wine is deeply colored in the glass, with a nose reminiscent of ripe golden apples and honeysuckle undercut by a salty tone. The palate is bold, with an initial attack of juicy orchard fruit and rich texture, followed by a honeyed note giving way to a long savory finish. More than anything else, the Orto shows a stern backbone of minerality bracing its mellow acidity and weight on the palate. I served it with shrimp cooked with their own stock and butter, but this wine would pair beautifully with anything out of the sea, soft cheese, or rich vegetable dishes. Open early and serve slightly chilled. Andy Paynter
Solouva, The side project of Giovanni Arcari with Andrea Rudelli, shows a more opulent side of Franciacorta. The nose shows very ripe fruit with notes of white peach and golden apple alongside guava and passion fruit with a slight brioche note from 3 years on the lees. The palate is fairly dry with good acidity but more than anything it is fleshy with juicy peaches and tropical fruit lifted by an active mousse. A luscious wine to try with grilled peaches and herbed goat cheese, chicken salad, bagels and lox, or rich soups. Andy Paynter