I love crisp, mineral-driven and complex white wines. This is because I enjoy white wine as an apéritif, as well as with most foods, and I have no problem drinking white wine throughout an entire evening, as long as the context is appropriate. If you were to examine my personal shopping habits, you would see a bias towards “Old World” white wines—wines from Spain, France, Germany, Austria and Italy, with the occasional South African or Greek bottle tossed in—and the reason is simple: greatest variety for greatest value.
Thus, I couldn’t be more thrilled about the 2010 vintage in Italy, which, thanks to a perfect storm of climatological factors yielded incredibly fresh, pure, expressive wines across the boot, but particularly in the northeast, where white wine is king. If you regularly enjoy wines from the cool, mountainous regions of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Friuli-Venezia Giulia like I do, then you will not want to miss out on this vintage. The wines exhibit that characteristic raciness of the north, but it is a raciness matched by profound richness, texture, and complexity.
You almost can't go wrong with the abundance of fabulous 2010s available, but here's a duo that captures the beauty and harmony of the vintage with exceptional precision. Not your Grandma's Pinot Grigio, these are chiseled, high-caliber whites that must not be missed by any serious connoisseur:
2010 Pacherhof Kerner Valle Isarco ($22.99) Never heard of Kerner? A cross of Riesling and Trollinger, Kerner is an aromatic white grape varietal cultivated primarily in the mountainous regions on the Austria/Swiss-Italian border. Under the careful management of owner/winemaker Andreas Huber, Pacherhof produces some of the region’s most exciting white wines from varietals most people don’t normally associate with Italy, like this. In the 2010, aromas of lemon-lime and delicate peach, with sweetgrass and spice undertones, are followed by round and unctuous flavors that expand on the palate along a firm backbone of acidity. Despite it's floral qualities, this is no wallflower; enjoy this elegant, volumous white paired with a dish like poached white fish with caper sauce.
2010 Edi Keber Collio Bianco ($24.99). In the foothills of the Alps, in the southeastern corner of Italy’s Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region, Collio is a unique district in that some of its vineyards stretch over into Slovenia but are permitted to bear the Collio designation. Local winemaking legend Edi Keber produces one wine, a white, from vineyards situated just meters from the Brda region of Slovenia. Always a of blend Friulano, Malvasia and Ribolla Gialla, the 2010 is a brilliant effort. Intense, full and round, its distinctive mineral character is matched by ripe, fleshy layers. Earthy floral aromas are accompanied by orchard fruits and lead to a palate that is rich, creamy and lush, with continuing mineral accents and hints of savory herb. Impeccably balanced and incredibly long, this easily takes the place of Burgundy at the table.
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