The world of white wine is more diverse than you think. Having worked in restaurants over the years, I often couldn’t understand why every by-the-glass program had the same choices: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling. Plenty of great wines are made from these varieties, but there is so much more to know.
Italy is a treasure trove for unique, indigenous grape varieties. One of my personal favorites is Albana, a historic grape produced primarily in Romagna. It has been around since the 13th century and was one of the first white wines to gain DOCG status in Italy. Albana is a bit of a chameleon, producing a wide range of styles from dry, to semi-sweet, to a passito version meant as a dessert wine.
One of the very best examples of dry Albana that I’ve tasted is from Tenuta Casali. Located in Mercato Saraceno, the Savio Valley produces wines with a combination of power and elegance. The vineyards rise from the banks of the river, and the Casali family has three different terraces planted to white and red grape varieties.
The Albana is planted in the first terrace, where the soil is poor with a type of volcanic rock called “roccia tufacea.” Winemaker Silvia Casali treats the grapes with great care, pressing via pneumatic press, with a six-month aging period in stainless steel tank, with lees stirring.
This is such a great white wine for the table. Pretty aromas of fresh peach, citrus peel, and mineral. This has medium weight, with a good balance of glycerin and acidity. Wines like this are really important for the table. I’d pair it with seafood such as langoustines, or with white meats like roasted chicken or pork loin. Only 5,000 bottles produced. Don’t miss it!
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