Unlike France, Italy does not have a Meursault, Alsace, or Hermitage—appellations capable of producing epic, cellar-worthy white wines on a yearly basis. But that does not mean Italy cannot make great whites that stand to improve with time. On the contrary, exceptional terroir abounds on the boot, and individual growers across many appellations carry the flag for excellent bianco. Here are three of our favorites that not only can be enjoyed now, but also will offer many pleasant surprises down the road.
This tiny property is perched high on the lush, green mountainsides inland of Naples, where the Fiano grape becomes a noble instrument for expressing the subtle nuances of great Campanian terroir. Now run by the fierce mother-daughter duo of Diamante and Serena Gaita, Villa Diamante is a historic estate whose stunningly fresh, gloriously perfumed old vintages have made a serious case for Fiano di Avellino as one of Italy’s premier white wine appellations. While their 2017 abounds with immediate charm in the form of luscious fruit and wild herbs, something magical happens with bottle age—hold some for a few years to see the nose veer toward salted butter, hazelnuts, petrol, and smoke.
Verdicchio is rarely considered more than a simple thirst-quencher, but thanks to the young, ambitious team that is La Marca di San Michele, such stereotypes can be all but forgotten. Their recipe for success—organic farming, natural vinification and aging in enormous oak casks with malolactic fermentation, and unfiltered bottling—yields a wine that does indeed provide vivacious refreshment, but also delivers ample layers of flavor and refined texture. Suggestions of pine nuts, hay, and spring flowers lead to an ultra-precise, stony finale recalling the ancient seabed the vines call home, in the shadow of the Apennines and within view of the Adriatic Sea. Tuck a few bottles away for six to eight more years, or serve immediately with a local specialty: porchetta.
This unusual Friulan blend combines an ancient, near-extinct clone of Sauvignon with old-vine Malvasia Istriana, aged in barrel and bottled without filtration. The tiny yields give an intensely concentrated wine of immense complexity, with delicate aromas of white flowers and ripe citrus soaring over a deep, rich structure, the whole balanced on a taut beam of minerality. It already drinks well, but will age like an electrically charged, exotically scented premier cru white Burgundy. A creamy risotto is the perfect match.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa