Small Things Savory - santa barbara sea urchin ice cream with trout roe and aged solera vinegar

Italian Whites: Alive and Kicking

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
March 19, 2009

La Tunella Pinot Grigio label

Wine at 79th
1490 79th St
@ York Ave
New York, NY 10075

I’ve been on an Italian kick since I’ve been back in NYC, where we are privy to such a wide selection of vino italiano. I’m living it up! My particular obsession is with Northern Italy, and I was recently introduced to some stellar whites from La Tunella, a winery in the Northeastern region of Friuli, in the eastern hillsides of Colli Orientali.

When I took my first sip of their Pinot Grigio ($20 for 750ml; $15 for 375 ml), I knew I was in for a delightful surprise. It’s winemakers like Massimo Zorzettig that are saving Pinot Grigio from being known as an insipid, watery, and non-descript wine. Massimo’s version has wonderful velocity. I was enraptured in honeysuckle heaven. This is a Pinot Griogio that shows off both the rich soil where the vines originated and meticulous winemaking. The wine is fermented in stainless steel vats, but undergoes a sur lie ageing process that gives it structure and personality.

I loved each of Massimo’s whites, all from indigenous Italian grapes. But the Ribolla Giajalla ($26) gave me goose bumps it was so good. The 2007 Rjgialla Selèze is a 100% Ribolla wine with notes of pink grapefruit, citrus and white flowers. The fragrant nose gets you with one whiff. And don’t miss his Bianco Sesto, 50% Friulano and 50% Ribolla Giajalla ($30), a Tre Bicchieri winner. I’m not one to believe a wine is good just because it rates well, so trust me – this is a truly outstanding wine. Lucky for us some of these wines come in half bottles, too. House white, anyone?

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