Exploring the whites of Italy

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There are many varieties of Italian whites -- don't limit yourself to pinot grigio. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune / August 12, 2010)

Pinot bianco from Alto Adige: Producers: J. Hofstatter, Cantina Terlan, Cantina Tramin, Alois Lageder

Fiano d'Avellino from Campania: Producers: Terredora di Paolo, Mastroberardino, Vinosia, Feudi di San Gregorio

Six to try

These six wines represent a mere fraction of the bounty and diversity found with Italian whites. No star ratings were given because each wine was evaluated on its own, but the clear favorite was the 2007 Livon Verduzzo Friulano Casali Godia, a dessert wine.

2009 Ajello Grillo

This Sicilian white has a mushroomy nose and a tart flavor plushed with notes of apple, pineapple and limestone. Serve with fried fish, salami subs, olive and feta salad. $14

2009 La Battistina Gavi

Made from the cortese grape, this wine from the Piedmont region is so tartly crisp it practically tingles. Look for a lively mix of green apple, white pepper and lime in flavor and aroma. Serve with avocado stuffed with shrimp salad, grilled swordfish, chicken salad. $20

2008 Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore

A blend of malvasia and trebbiano grapes from Frascati, which is near Rome. This white has a creamy quality, almost like a Burgundy, with a subtle herbal flavor akin to pinot blanc. The nose is a bit grassy. Serve with grilled Cornish game hens, pasta salad with mussels, egg salad. $8

2007 Inama Soave Classico Vigneti di Foscarino

Made from the garganega grape, this white from the Veneto was markedly more golden than most of the other wines. The flavor is crisp but with enough sweetness to feel multidimensional. Look for notes of honey, caramel spice, black pepper, citrus. Serve with Waldorf salad, grilled scallops, grilled quail. $25

2007 Livon Verduzzo Friulano Casali Godia

This dessert white from Italy's Colli Orientali del Friuli region is memorable for its many nuanced layers of flavor. The nose offers touches of honey, apricots and vanilla. The flavor is of spiced apricot and butterscotch. Serve with an apricot or plum tart, pineapple upside-down cake, peach clafouti. $26 (500 milliliter bottle)

2009 Palagetto Vernaccia di San Gimignano

This Tuscan wine has the tart flavor of green apples and pear seasoned with black pepper and a spritz of lime. Serve with grilled pork, cold roast chicken. $12

You want that wine. But your store or area distributor may not carry it. State law may prohibit you from ordering a wine online. What to do? Ask your wine retailer for a wine similar in flavor, style and price. Remember, too, prices vary.
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