With breathtakingly high mountains, shimmering beaches, and undulating hills, the Italian landscape excites all the senses. Like small sparkling fragments, each region—with its native grapes and singular terroir—fit together to form a beautiful mosaic. As we tingle with anticipation of a summer unlike any other and our wanderlust drives our palates to seek out something new, now is the perfect time to explore the richness of Italy’s culture through this wine mosaic.
The first flush of summer’s heat brings white wines to the forefront of our cravings. Italy, with its hundreds of indigenous white grapes, entices not just the nose and palate but an inner sense of adventure.
In Alto Adige, home of the Kettmeir estate, the language slips between Italian and German — a duality of cultures that weaves through the villages and towns. Here in this northern Alpine region, with its steep mountains and numerous microclimates, classic Pinot Grigio is brought to new heights. Vibrant citrus notes and freshness, as crisp as the mountain air, lead the way in Kettmeir’s stunning rendition of the grape. With its zesty acidity, Kettmeir’s Pinot Grigio Alto Adige D.O.C. invites the brine of an oyster or the unctuous bite of fritto misto—fried seafood—as a richer counterpoint.
Swoop from the heights of Alto Adige down to one of Italy’s most impressive bodies of water—Lake Garda, in the neighboring region of Lugana. Winds coming off the lake blow through the limestone- and- clay soil-vineyards, and temper the warm Mediterranean climate. Grapes ripen slowly and build acidity with each passing day. From this power comes delicacy: the Cà Maiol Lugana D.O.P., made from Trebbiano, is pure elegance. With subtle yet persistent floral notes, this wine calls for crudo or similar raw fish preparations, where a hint of vinegar and acid match this wine’s brightness but won’t overwhelm the light body.
Maremma’s past as cowboy country can still be felt in the wines from Sassoregale estate. This is Tuscany, but wild and unbridled, where the inland sloping hills give way to the ocean’s coast. Sassoregale’s Vermentino is similarly exhilarating; perfectly ripe white peaches are given an aromatic edge with basil, thyme, and other subtle herbaceous tones. Let the palate wander through a diverse number of pairings, from bruschetta with basil-flecked tomatoes during aperitivo hour to a cioppino for the main course. The wine’s savory aromas rise up to meet the fragrant dishes, while the crisp and zesty texture of the Vermentino cut through the richness of the stew.
Vermentino shows another side in Sardinia. The Cantina Mesa Giunco, Vermentino de Sardegna D.O.C is lush and robust, a wine with presence and power. Grown in the southern tip of the island, the Mediterranean is always in the sightline of the vines. The hint of salinity that runs through the wine is a constant reminder of the sea that surrounds the region. In this warm climate, riper fruit sensations dance around in the glass, but that savory herbal undercurrent still announces itself. Grown in sandy soils—with some vines even on original pre-phylloxera rootstock—there’s a power and texture to this Vermentino. For those cool summer nights, this is the wine to serve with a more decadent dish, such as Sardinia’s famous lobster risotto. Creamy yet savory, it’s a dish that requires a wine as complex as its own flavors.
Last Updated: May 8, 2023