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Recommended Italian white wines for winter

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011; 2:56 PM

Vietti Roero Arneis 2008

Piedmont, Italy, $24

The grape is called Arneis - in Piemontese dialect, "little rascal" - because it's so hard to grow. It's also known as white nebbiolo or Barolo bianco because it is grown in the same region as the famous red. The best Arneis wine is rich without spending time in oak. This one is floral and full of apple pie, ripe melon and pineapple, with some spice on the finish.

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Dalla Terra: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Calvert Woodley, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cork Market, Potenza Wine; on the list at Bibiana. Available in Virginia at Cecile's Wine Cellar in McLean, the Italian Store in Arlington, Whole Foods Market Fair Lakes. There are numerous online sources, including EmpireWine.com and WineLegend.com.

Bastianich Friulano 2008

Friuli, Italy, $15

Friulano is the grape formerly known as Tocai Friulano (changed to avoid confusion with the Hungarian wine Tokay). This one commands your attention: intense, flavorful, strange (in a good way) with apricot, herb, spice and even a little anise. About as complex and profound as you'll find in a $15 white wine.

Dark Star Imports: Available in the District at Circle Wine & Liquor, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Cork Market, Rodman's; on the list at Bibiana and Posto. Available in Maryland at the Bottle Shop in Potomac, Gilly's Craft Beer & Fine Wine in Rockville, and Wells Discount Liquors and the Wine Source in Baltimore. There are numerous online sources, including WineLibrary.com and Sherry-Lehman.com.

Zenato Lugana San Benedetto 2009

Veneto, Italy, $15

Lugana is made from Trebbiano grown at the southern end of Lago di Garda, a grape the locals insist is a different variety from the normally bland specimen found in the rest of Italy. Who's to argue, when it produces a wine this full-bodied, elegant and floral, with orange blossom and peach? Goes great with creamy sauces and yet, chilled, is still light enough to pair with seafood.

Winebow: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, MacArthur Beverages; on the list at Carmine's, Filomena, Mendocino Grille, Tosca. Available in Maryland at Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Wilkinson Wine Cellar in Fairfax. There are numerous online sources, including SuperCellars.com and SelectLiquors.com.

Donnafugata Anthilia 2009

Sicily, Italy, $14

Here are two Sicilian grapes few people have heard of: Ansonica and Catarratto. Lots of tropical fruit and blood orange, but also some herbaceousness and a clean mineral finish. This was my Thanksgiving dinner wine, but I've also had it with polpette (meatballs) at Bibiana.

Folio Wine Partners/Bacchus: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Burka's Wine & Liquor, Potenza Wine; on the list at Bibiana. Available in Maryland at Columbia Palace Wine & Spirits, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Gilly's in Rockville. Available in Virginia at various Cost Plus World Market stores. There are numerous online sources, including CityWineCellar.com and FineWineHouse.com.

Abbazia di Novacella Kerner 2009

Alto Adige, Italy, $24

Kerner is a German grape, a cross between Riesling and Schiava, and finds its best expression in the Sudtirol, the German-speaking part of northern Italy. Lots of melon and apple, creamy with just enough acidity, and a long finish, with a hint of citrus.

Vias: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Griffin Market; on the list at Dino, Bibiana, Proof, Komi. Available in Maryland at Bin 604 and the Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Au Domaine in Alexandria. There are numerous online sources, including AstorWines.com and WineBuys.com.

Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.


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