Smaller than the state of California, Italy remains one of the world’s leading producers of wine, and is home to more native wine grapes than any other country. Italy is probably best known for its full-bodied reds, and considering many of us are looking for refreshing and zippy flavors as summer temperatures continue to rise, Italian wine (other than pinot grigio) is likely not our first thought.
We continue to be smitten with Italian pinot grigio but there are other bright, refreshing Italian superstars.
Soave is one of my favorites, for its relatively low alcohol content (usually around 12 percent) and light-bodied refreshing taste. Look for “Classico” on the label. This lets you know it was produced in the heartland using the traditional expression of the garganega grape. Italian law stipulates Soave must be a blend of 70 percent garganega and 30 percent blend of chardonnay, trebbiano di Soave and pinot blanc.
- 2012 Re Midas Cantina Di Soave, Italy (about $10 retail)
- 2012 Folonari Soave, Italy (about $13 retail)
Orvieto is made from the trebbiano grape. Usually an assortment of other Italian whites are added to the blend. In the past it was known as a sweetish style of wine using “noble rotten” grapes, but the more modern styles are generally dry. It is aromatic, with fresh lemony fruitiness and the occasional hint of almond.
- 2011 Villa Antinori Orvieto, Italy (about $13 retail)
- 2011 Argillae Orvieto DOC, Italy (about $18 retail)
Most consumers have never explored the refreshing taste of Gavi. This wine is another of my favorites, not only because of the excellent value but its ability to pair with almost any summer menu. Made from the cortese grape, it usually has a crisp acidity that can range from almost tart to mellow and citrusy.
- 2012 Michele Chiarlo Gavi, Italy (about $22 retail)
- 2012 Pio Cesare Cortesa Di Gavi (about $28 retail)