Thursday, February 21, 2008

italian white wine

In my web site:, in the wine section, I made the basic generalization that, in general, Italian white wines were best when drinking them in a trattoria near where they were grown. They did not transport that well, I claimed, and the quality did not generally justify the price for those wines purchased here. I admit I included a couple of "possible exceptions", but not that many.

I have had to "eat crow" a couple of times, as one may note on the updated web site, most notaby after drinking a Terredora Greco di Tufo Loggia Della Serra 2005 recently. From the Campania region, in the hills near Avellino, this wine from the greco family, is a delight. Its producers do caution that it is a wine to drink now, but what a lovely, floral treasure.

Chapter Two in the "eating crow" department occurred last week, when I had the pleasure of visiting a relatively new wine ship, Biondivino, in the Russian Hill section of San Francisco. The proprietor is the charming, incredibly knowledgeable Ceri Smith. Her beautifully designed store is devoted to Italian wines, and especially unusual, hard-to-fine, specially crafted wines. Every region of Italy is represented, and mostly all from small producers. Biondivino is truly a worthy Temple of Italian wine.

On the question of Italian whites, Ceri said in an interview in the Chronicle: "I love the Italian whites. People know Pinot Grigio, but there's so much more to Italian whites. They are so complex, and they have so many layers and subtleties and nuance and elegance. If someone wanted to change their mind about white wines, they should try Kerner -- it's a hybrid produced in Trentino-Alto Adige."

So I did. I bought three whites (above). On Ceri's recommendation we had the Kerner with a cheese course. Perfecto! The second selection was a Biondi: "Gurna" from the base of Mt. Etna. It is a blend of Caricante, Cataratto, Minnella, Malvasia and Moscadello Etna. (This one is still to be tried). We filled out the triad with a different Greco: from Benito Ferrara.

In addition, we also picked up, on Ceri's further recommendation, a Castellum Vetus Montepulicano d'Abruzzo, Colline Teramane. I had picked up some superb hand-crafted bucatini at a nearby Italian market, and the menu for the next evening was to be a favorite: Bucatini d'Amatriciana. (see two of the posts below for this special treasure). The Castellum Vetus was absolutely perfect with this dish. Thanks Ceri!