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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday Tasting: Italian Whites

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we sample some white wines from Italy.

The Beyond Beer column in the current issue of All About Beer magazine focuses on Italian wine. When you pick up a bottle of Italian wine, look for a set of letters or words that will give you an idea of the pedigree of the wine. There are four basic designations you will encounter, but keep in mind that not all wines of a certain designation are equal. When it comes to the designations on Italian wine labels, vineyards not following the accepted norms get penalized and cannot use the “highest” designation levels. These are reserved for wines that follow tradition. If a winemaker displays some individuality that they believe results in a better wine, they do so knowing they will not be able to use the prized DOC or DOCG designations. the four designations include:

Vino da Tavola (VDT), or “table wine.” The wine may be a basic quaffing wine or it may use this designation because it is a blend of grapes that does not comply with standards set for the other designations. While “table wine” can often mean lower grade wines, it is not always the case with Italian VDT wines.

Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT), a category of wines from a specific growing region, which do not meet the specific strict, traditional rules. There are about 120 IGT zones for Italian wines. These are quality wines that reflect what locals in the region often typically consume.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), 300 wines from regions across Italy qualify for this category. Established in 1963, to meet this grade wines must be made using specific grapes, in specific blends, with a minimum alcohol content, aged for a prescribed period and from vineyards that meet specific production guidelines. These wines meet a defined set of criteria for traditional quality wines of the region.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garanitita (DOCG), a cut above DOC wines in terms of quality. These wines must be made from traditional grapes grown in the region, but they also have undergone a blind taste test that indicates the judges have picked these vineyard areas as the best of the best. There are just over 30 DOCG designated appellations.

Five Italian whites to try:

Conte Priola 2007 Pinot Grigio Veneto: Straw colored wine with a clean aroma. Nice grapefruit base to a palate cleansing wine that would match we with seafood and a number of pasta dishes.

Ecco Domani 2007 Pinot Grigio delle Venezie: Clean, slightly floral aroma. The wine has hints of tropical fruit and pineapple, finishing with some green apple qualities.

Monti Rossi 2007 Pinot Grigio Veneto: This wine offers a slight floral and herbal aroma. Crisp with a nice level of citrus and pear qualities throughout the flavor.

Neirano 2007 Pitule Moscato: This sweet lower alcohol wine (7 percent abv) is lightly sparkling. Good to accompany an after dinner pastry.

The Sopranos 2007 Pinot Grigio: Straw color wine with a crisp, tart flavor profile. Grapefruit and tropical fruits in the finish.

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