​Three Italian whites from lesser known varieties

Italy is a treasure trove of grapes just waiting to be discovered.
Italy is a treasure trove of grapes just waiting to be discovered.  Photo: Shutterstock

"Italians do it better" is the slogan of the annual Italian Wine & Food Festival, which has  recently graced Sydney and Melbourne. Not always better, perhaps, but certainly Italians do everything differently – which is their great gift to the world. In wine grapes, they have literally hundreds of varieties that are indigenous to their local area, most of which are not grown anywhere else in Italy, let alone other countries. Some, such as sangiovese, montepulciano, trebbiano and pinot grigio, have been exported far and wide, but by and large, Italy is a treasure trove of grapes just waiting to be discovered.

Pieropan Calvarino Soave Classico DOC 2016, Veneto $55

Score 95

Casa d'Ambra Frassitelli Ischia Bianco DOC 2017, Campania.
Casa d'Ambra Frassitelli Ischia Bianco DOC 2017, Campania. Photo: Supplied

Made from 70 per cent garganega and 30 per cent trebbiano grapes, this is a single-vineyard wine nicknamed after Calvary. There's daylight between this and most ordinary Soave. Floral and lemon aromas; a classy wine of great fruit purity and finesse. The texture is refined and the aftertaste long. Cork; 12.5 per cent alcohol.

Ageing Best now to six years.

Stockists include Prince Wine Store (Vic); Five Way Cellars, Paddington (NSW).

Cusumano Alta Mora Etna Bianco DOC 2016, Sicily $55

Score 93

Made from the local white grape, carricante, grown on the slopes of Sicily's active volcano Mount Etna. The aromas are fresh, restrained and shy, the palate delicate and soft, dry and well balanced with a signature mineral character and cleansing aftertaste. Delicious and refreshing. Cork; 13 per cent alcohol.

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Ageing Best now to five years.

Stockists include Amato's Liquor Mart, Leichhardt (NSW); Bottega Tasca, Carlton (Vic).

Casa d'Ambra Frassitelli Ischia Bianco DOC 2017, Campania $45

Score 90 

This special wine is made from the local biancolella grape, grown on the precipitous island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples. The floral aromatics are reminiscent of pinot gris. The wine is fruity and smoothly textured, with a trace of sweetness and a clean finish. Cork; 13 per cent alcohol.

Ageing Best now to five years.

Stockists include Mainly restaurants and wine bars, but try Annandale Cellars (NSW); Blackhearts & Sparrows and Prince Wine Store (Vic).