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Italy's Refreshing Summer Wines Part 2

This bevy of Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Bruts will whet your whistle and have you asking for more in the summer heat.
Patrcia Decker

The Veneto, one of Italy’s foremost wine-producing regions in quality and quantity, surrounds the city of Venice, and is famously the home of Prosecco. The Ca’Vittoria Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore is a delight, a high quality bubbly from the best Prosecco region in Italy, with perfumed aromas of white flowers, delicate hints of honey, green apples, and citrus and tropical fruit notes, it’s tiny bubbles signifying quality, a good way to start a meal or quench your thirst on a hot summer day. A workhorse of the Italian wine world, the Trebbiano grape, is widely planted but often doesn’t make distinctive wines on its own. Happily, the Aldegheri Lugana Le Querce DOC 2012, 100% Trebbiano, disproves the conventional wisdom, it’s a delicious surprise! A flavorful wine, with apricot and nectarine fruit, and an intense, long finish, it is great as an aperitif, or accompanying seafood.

Lombardia, in north central Italy, is famous for its sparkling wines, and the wines did not disappoint. Ricci Curbastro crafted two very good sparklers from the Franciacorta area, in the traditional method of sparkling wine production. The Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Brut, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Noir, is slightly floral and fruity, with fine, persistent bubbles, and notes of yeast and freshly baked bread, creamy texture, and long finish. The Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Rosé Brut was a stunner, a blend of mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it has aromas of black cherry, wild berries, herbs, and rose flower, a crisp palate of fruit with good body, this was one of my favorite of the tasting. La Montina also had two very good sparklers. The La Montina Franciacorta Brut, a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Nero, is very crisp and fresh, with fruit and floral notes. The La Montina Franciacorta Argens Satèn, 100% Chardonnay, was more complex and yeasty, with acacia honey and aromatic herbs highlighting the stone fruit, melon, and toasted nut flavors.

Piemonte, although renowned for its big red wines, is home to Asti Spumante and offers some white wines of character. Giacomo Ascheri Cellars poured two interesting whites. The Cristina Ascheri Langhe Arneis 2013, 100% Arneis, is a medium bodied, intense, savory white wine, with aromas of apple, honeydew, wildflowers, and flint, and in the mouth, pear, white peach, cooked apples, spice, a hint of pink grapefruit, and a slightly bitter almond finish, an intriguing wine that is meant for food. The Cristina Ascheri Gavi di Gavi 2013, 100% Cortese, is a richer white wine than most Gavi, honeydew and floral aromas and flavors, good acidity and structure, very good with food or on its own.

These limited production wines from small scale northern Italian wineries can be challenging to find, but hopefully that will change soon, as many were seeking importers and distributers in the US. Trade events like Vino California spotlight these unique wines from indigenous grapes, and with the support of prominent Italians, such as Piero Selvaggio of Valentino Restaurant, where this event was held, hopefully, US wine drinkers will have a new range of white wines to choose from.

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