A Powerful Southern Italian White for $12

A Mano Bianco Puglia 2006
Kim Marcus
Posted: April 15, 2009

To enjoy a post-Easter dinner filled with an assortment of leftovers, I opted to open a white from Italy that was in my fridge. I figured it would be a cool quaff to enjoy on a mild spring evening in my backyard.

It was certainly perfect for that, but it also distinguished itself as the coda to a weekend filled with fine Burgundy, Bordeaux and German Riesling. The winery, A Mano (literally "by hand"), is located in the southern Italian province of Puglia (the heel of the boot), well off the beaten path in winedom. In past tastings by my colleague James Suckling, A Mano's red made from the Primitivo grape has been notable for its quality-to-price ratio, delivering flavors reminiscent of California Zinfandel. (The two grapes are different clones of the same variety.)

The A Mano white that I opened is a 50-50 blend of two ancient, native grape varieties, Fiano and Greco, which were coveted during Roman times. The 2006 is the inaugural white made by this pioneering winery (read about winemaker Mark Shannon), and it was totally fermented and aged in stainless steel.

As soon as I took my first whiff, I knew I was in for something special. The nose was intensely aromatic and followed by fresh, powerful flavors of citrus and apple, with some honeyed notes. Hailing from the 2006 vintage, it is maturing nicely; its minerality and viscosity are reminiscent of finer German Rieslings. The long finish of smoky spice and dried white fruits proved a fine match for my plate of barbecue chicken and potatoes au gratin. I rated it 90 points, non-blind, and it's a noteworthy bargain at $12 a bottle.

WineSpectator.com members: Get our quick lists of Top Values and Easy Finds among Italian whites.

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