I am an unabashed fan of young, fresh-tasting Italian white wines. It helps that my local wine shop here in Queens specializes in releases from Italy. But if that weren’t the case, I would still search them out. My attraction is based on two straightforward criteria: lively, distinctive flavors and reasonable prices. I picked up a bevy of these bottlings recently as easy sippers—but I was in for a surprise as well.
One of my favorite dishes, as well as my wife’s, is duck. I cook it on our rotisserie grill (with a pan underneath to catch all the rich, flavorful fat). I have found this to be one of the best and easiest ways to cook duck—there’s no billowing smoke in the kitchen, and the bird can be cooked to perfection in about an hour. As I was cooking the bird, I enjoyed a Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy’s Alto Adige region that was made by the producer Tiefenbrunner. At just 12.5 percent alcohol, the wine tasted like a rich Sauvignon Blanc, filled with glazed citrus, ripe gooseberry and pear flavors. The finish featured spice and anise notes, with hints of mint. While I first thought to serve a Pinot Noir with the duck, I opted to continue with the Pinot Grigio, and it proved a fine match; the fresh acidity of the white was just the ticket to cut through the rich, smoky flavors of the bird. White wine with duck, indeed. I rated it 87 points, non-blind, and it cost $15.50 a bottle.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2008 (87, $15).
• Plus, get our quick list of Easy Finds among Italian whites.