With over 1,000 indigenous grape varieties and hundreds of appellations, Italy has long been a favorite wine source for sommeliers and retailers, offering both discovery and value. Today, the range of Italian wines coming to the U.S. is more expansive than ever. SevenFifty Daily asked nine buyers from across the country which Italian wines they’re most excited about right now, and their results span the country from Sicily to Piedmont. (All wines are listed with price per bottle at the noted establishment.)
Fabulas ‘Fecerunt’ Pecorino 2020, Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo ($40)
Selected by Eric Prato, owner, Garagiste, Las Vegas
“The 2020 Fabulas ‘Fecerunt’ Pecorino is made by a group of friends who have made it their goal to improve the quality coming from Abruzzo,” explains Garagiste owner Eric Prato, who curates a selection of over 40 small-production, offbeat wines by-the-glass at his Las Vegas bar and retail shop. “Wine can often be overwhelming and pretentious, so we are trying to create more of a relaxed, inviting environment with a by-the-glass that changes weekly.” Prato consistently reaches for this Pecorino when temperatures rise because “the wine is clean and thirst-quenching,” and he believes there’s no better pairing for this crisp white than the Italian sheep’s milk cheese of the same name.
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Ermes Pavese Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle 2021, Valle d’Aosta ($50)
Selected by Sarah Milstein, wine director, Betty, Sacramento, California
“This is springtime in the Italian Alps … in a glass,” says Sarah Milstein, Betty’s wine director. Betty, a combination wine bar and bottle shop in Sacramento’s Southside Park neighborhood, offers a thoughtful global selection of wines. The casual neighborhood spot highlights top values that pair with simple cuisine and intrigue a curious clientele—qualities that make this white wine from one of the highest elevation vineyards in Europe a home run. Millstein particularly loves this 100 percent Prié Blanc for its “combination of “fresh alpine flowers, brilliant clarity, [and] racy springtime core.”
Tiare Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Collio Goriziano, Friuli-Venezia Giulia ($25)
Selected by Laura Koffer, vice president of wine, Wine Access, Napa, California
“I love Sauvignon Blanc in all its forms,” says Laura Koffer, vice president of wine at online retailer Wine Access. “But Italy has been quietly making some of the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc in the northeastern region of Friuli for decades.” Based in Napa Valley, Wine Access offers wines through its daily offer emails, curated wine clubs, and online store, where Tiare is a regular feature. Koffer is partial to Friulian Sauvignon Blanc like Tiare during the summer months because the wine is perfect “on its own poolside with a good book,” and when lighter fare like shellfish and salads take center stage. “The wines are powerful and dense with notable minerality yet defined fruit character,” she says. “They are in a category all to themselves and well worth exploring.”
Ezio Poggio ‘Caespes’ Timorasso 2020, Piedmont ($27.95)
Selected by Talitha Whidbee, owner, Vine Wine, Brooklyn
“I am always a sucker for Timorasso and will buy it whenever I see it,” says Talitha Whidbee, the owner of Brooklyn’s Vine Wine. The neighborhood shop in Williamsburg focuses on what Whidbee describes as wines of integrity: “We focus on wines that are made with as little intervention as possible, but we prefer wines that are delicious over dogmatic stances on things like sulfur,” she says. “I think of the store as being inspired by your favorite record store—we’ll always have something you want, but it won’t always be the same bottle because so many of our producers make such small quantities of wine.” Ezio Poggio’s Timorasso “brings incredible balance between minerality and fruit,” says Whidbee. “The wine is really a joy to drink, with its combination of texture and weight.”
Giuseppe Rinaldi ‘Brunate’ Barolo 2018, Piedmont ($1,750)
Selected by Gino Ferraro, owner, Ferraro’s Ristorante, Las Vegas
The 1600-bottle wine cellar at Ferraro’s is 80 percent Italian, with a particular focus on Italian classics. Nebbiolo-based wines especially inspire owner Gino Ferraro. “I’m possibly the most passionate person on the planet when it comes to Nebbiolo,” he says, adding that he believes the value and cellar potential of the wines is their top selling point, followed closely by Nebbiolo’s food pairing prowess alongside classic Italian fare. There’s no more iconic producer in Barolo than Giuseppe Rinaldi, whose wines fetch top prices but still offer value when compared to the greats of other world-class wine regions, according to Ferraro.
Barberani ‘Castagnolo’ Orvieto Classico Superiore, Umbria ($39)
Selected by Hugh Preece, operating partner, Salt Creeke Grille, New Jersey and California
For Salt Creeke Grille operating partner Hugh Preece, Barberani’s Orvieto Superiore is a summertime go-to across locations with diverse wine offerings. “It’s a great wine to enjoy as an aperitif, but also versatile enough to go with various dishes, from seafood to pastas and grilled vegetables,” he says. It’s a crisp, light blend of grapes including Grechetto, Procanico, Verdello, Drupeggio, and Malvasia in Umbria. With locations in New Jersey and southern California, Salt Creeke Grille offers classic American fare on their seafood-heavy menus and caters to a wide range of palates, but Preece finds the Barberani Orvieto to be a match across the board thanks to its citrusy and floral aromatic profile. “It’s a really versatile wine worth trying, and should be on everybody’s radar,” he says.
Barone di Villagrande Etna Bianco Superiore, Sicily ($58)
In North Carolina, wine director Michael Klinger is reaching for wines from the sunny shores of Sicily to quench the thirst of patrons at the Supperland and Ever Andalo. While the two restaurants are wildly different—Supperland describes itself as “southern steakhouse meets church potluck,” while Ever Andalo has a 300-bottle list dedicated to Italy—Klinger finds common ground with Sicilian wines thanks to their versatility on the table. “I love this with almost any seafood—especially raw or baked oysters, shrimp cocktail, or scampi-style pasta—tarragon chicken salad, as well as any pesto or mushroom cream sauce,” he says. It’s mostly made from Carricante, yielding an “elegant, racy, and mineral-driven wine, bursting with white peach and candied lime fruit, nutty almond and caraway spice notes, and finishing with tingling, mouthwatering acidity.”
Marco De Bartoli ‘Integer’ Grillo 2020, Sicily ($120)
Selected by Morgan Harris, head sommelier, Angler, San Francisco
At San Francisco’s Michelin-starred temple to sea life, head sommelier Morgan Harris is putting Marco De Bartoli’s unique Integer Grillo on a pedestal this season. Within a bottle program that emphasizes classic wine regions and benchmark producers, Harris finds that the Integer stands out thanks to its unique skin-contact winemaking. “Most Grillo I find to be kind of leaden and un-animated, but a small amount of skin contact gives the wine a lot more aromatic presence, and the texture and acid are both riveting,” he says, adding the wine is an exceptional seafood pairing. “It doesn’t necessarily follow that the grandmaster of Marsala would make great unfortified, dry, white table wines, but this is stellar.”
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Laura Burgess is a writer based in California’s Sierra Foothills. Her work has been featured in Real Simple, Christie’s Luxury Real Estate Magazine, Vinepair, The Kitchn, and more. She writes about wine, spirits, and the intersection of luxury and the great outdoors. Find her @laurauncorked.