Around the World in 80 Wines Part 12: Italy (the Whites)

It’s been a bit of a wait but I hope you’ll agree it’s been worth it when you sample the delights I’m about to tell you about.

After a jaunt through the juicy yet perfectly balanced hinterlands of Italy and its wonderful red wines, I now wish to take you on a journey through their intriguing whites. Like the reds there are some real gems to be found and often representing excellent value for money. Let’s dive in.

Prosecco Superiore DOCG (Aldi £7.49)

I had to kick off with that increasingly popular drop of fizz – Prosecco. It’s plain to see why this wine has captured the imagination of wine drinkers everywhere. Many examples have lovely simple fruit and a rush of bubbles making every glass feel like a mini celebration but here’s one that’s a real cut above.

As you will see from this stunning video, DOCG Proseccos are the best of the best coming from the top areas in the Treviso province of Italy. This one is utterly delicious with a fine mousse of bubbles harnessing lively apple and pear flavours with crisp acidity enticing you in for more and at this price every day can be a celebration.

Tesco Finest Passerina (Tesco usually £8, currently £6)

Here we have a new addition to Tesco’s Finest range and I for one am jubilant. Many of the TF unheralded gems were recently de-listed but hopefully the recent roll out of this beauty is a taste of things to come.

I tried this at the recent Tesco Wine Fair in Bristol and was blown away by the beautiful balance of lemon and lime zing offset by generous peach flavours and a rich, smooth mouthfeel. A belter as an aperitif but think garlic prawns in tagliatelle and you could be on the banks of the Grand Canal.

Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi, Taste the Difference (Sainsburys, usually £7, currently £6)

More of an established classic than the last wine but still overshadowed by gallons of boring, tasteless Pinot Grigio (go for Pinot Gris from Alsace or New Zealand for a truly flavoursome version of that particular grape).

This wine is fresher than the spray from the Mediterranean in your face and wakes your taste buds up in no uncertain terms. Fresh lemons are the flavour of the day but there’s decent weight too with good length of flavour. Perfect with grilled sole or plaice or a white pizza. Amazing value too, especially when on offer.

Friuli Grave Sauvignon Blanc (M&S £9)

As you can see from the other selections in this piece and also the wines in Italy (The Reds), I’m usually one for drinking Italian wines made from indigenous grapes. They just offer so much flavour and interest for very little money but here’s a wine which confounds that rule in a huge way.

Friuli is a Northern Italian gem made with restraint and finesse from one of the most popular grapes out there – Sauvignon Blanc. Once again this is dry, crisp and elegant and doesn’t belt you over the head with tropical fruit like many lesser cheap SBs do. It’s really hard to do this justice in writing, just buy a bottle and drink it slowly. You won’t regret it.

Wine Atlas Catarratto (Asda £4.78)

Plagiarizing myself this is yet another winner from the adventurous, and consistently excellent Asda ‘Wine Atlas’ range. The wines in this series are a great way of trying new wines at such low prices you really can’t go wrong and this Catarratto is another delicious case in point.

This wine from sunny Sicily (my go to region for brilliant, tasty and inexpensive Italian wines of both colours – sorry Rose you don’t count) is fermented in stainless steel tanks and sees no oak. What this guarantees is that the freshness of the fruit shines through and there’s plenty to love here with bags of zesty, peachy fruit which slips down a treat with simple chicken dishes and at this price you can’t go wrong.

Tesco Finest Pignoletto (Tesco £8)

And finally, for you more adventurous Prosecco lovers, here’s a lesser known spot of fizz from the hills between Modena and Bologna which is no less celebratory than its better known cousin.

For a simple description of Pignoletto, think Prosecco with a turbo charged jolt of apricots and lemons racing down your throat on a wave of pearlescent bubbles. This is great on its own but I really love it when washing down a plate of classic antipasti (focaccia, salami, dolcelatte and so on). Try it this weekend and you’ll be doing it again whenever you get the chance.

Saluti!