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Charles Scicolone

Professional Wine Expert

Best Italian White Wines & Italian Wines

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Not so many years ago, many felt that Italian white wines lacked character and tasted too much alike. One of the reasons for the similarity was that many producers used the same type of yeast. There were always exceptions and today, the exceptions have become the rule. Innovations by northern Italian white winemakers, especially in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, have led the way to complex white wines that reflect both the grape variety and the “terroir”. One winemaker even cultivates his own natural yeasts in a special room.

Today’s Italian whites can hold their own with white wines from anywhere in the world. There are traditional-style wines, modern-style wines, and some that are very innovative. The five wines listed below are examples of the best of Italian white wines today.

The best Italian white wines offer complexity that you'll love savoring. We recommend Italian wines including dry and sweet wine for dinner tonight or your party this weekend.

Best Italian White Wines by Charles Scicolone

The Best You Can Get

  • Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2004 DOC – Edoardo Valentini (Abruzzo)

    Charles says: This winery makes only three wines. Two of their wines were given the Tre Bicchieri from Gambero Rosso: Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Montepulicano d’Abruzzo. The other was awarded two red glasses, their second highest honor. The Trebbiano d’Abruzzo was rated in the first tier in Decanter Magazine’s “Italy’s 50 Greatest Ever Wines”. It will age and drink like a great white Burgundy. The winemaker is Francesco Valentini. His winery has taken an undistinguished grape, Trebbiano, and made it into a world-class wine.

    • Top honors from leading wine publications
    • This wine will only improve with age
    • Francesco Valentini has said that the Trebbiano is their best wine
    • This winemaker has taken the Trebbiano grape to new heights
    • I chose their Montepulciano d’Abruzzo as one of my Best Italian Red Wines
  • Vintage Tunina 2005 IGT – Jermann (Friuli Venezia Giulia)

    Charles says: Made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Rjbolla Gialla, Malvasia Istriana and Picolit grapes, the percentages vary from year to year. The grapes are late harvested, picked two weeks after all the other grapes have been harvested. Grapes are all harvested and vinified together which is very unusual. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel.

    This is an elegant, well-balanced wine with complex floral, honey, and mineral aromas. The winemaker is Silvio Jermann, one of the first in the area to experiment with blends. He has had great results. The first official release of the wine was in 1975. The wine will last 8-10 years after the harvest.

    • Blend includes the rare Picolit grape
    • Grapes harvested and blended together
    • “Tunina” is the nickname for Antonia, the former owner of the vineyard. It is also the name of a housekeeper in Venice who became the lover of Casanova
  • Ribolla Gialla 2003 IGT - Gravner (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)

    Charles says: The wine is 100% Ribolla, a native grape from Friuli Venezia Giulia, but the way it is made is very unusual. In the vineyard, Joska Gravner gets maximum ripeness and concentration from the grapes. He ferments the wine in giant beeswax lined terracotta “amphorae” from Georgia in the former Soviet Union, which are buried underground. The wine is kept there for seven to eight months and then in large Slovenian oak barrels for three years. Only natural yeast is used. No sulfur dioxide is added and there is no temperature control. The wine is neither clarified nor filtered and is bottled during the waxing of the moon. This is a unique white wine brownish in color with aggressive aromas and flavor.

    • Owner Joska Gravner makes wine the old-fashioned way
    • He studied ancient Roman texts on wine
    • The wine is organic
    • Unique winemaking process
  • Bianco des Rosis IGT 2006 - Mario Schiopetto (Friuli Venezia Giulia)

    Charles says: 40% Tocai Friulano, 20% Pinot Grigio, 20% Sauvignon, 15% Malvasia and 5% Ribolla grapes. 85% of the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks; the malvasia undergoes alcoholic fermentation and malolatic fermentation in tonneaux for five or six months. The tocai friulano and the malvasia dominate the blend. The winery has a yeast room where the various types of autochthonous yeast required to trigger the process of fermentation are grown.

    The winery was established in 1965 by Mario Schiopetto, and the first vintage of the wine was 1986. The winey is now in the hands of Mario’s children and Giorgio is the oenologist and agronomist. We first drank this wine many years ago in Venice and it has become one of Michele’s (my wife) and my favorite white wines.

    • Tocai Friuliano and Malvasia dominate the blend
    • It is a complex and elegant wine
    • The consulting enologist is Donato Lanati
  • Sauvignon St. Valentin 2006 DOC – San Michele Appiano (Alto Adige)

    Charles says: The winery is a cooperative with 355 members. It was founded in 1907 and named after the village where it is located. The cellar master is Hans Tezer, an expert on white wine, who has been with them for 30 years.

    The vineyards are 500 meters above sea level. Fermentation and aging are done in stainless steel. The wine has a fresh, fruity aroma with licorice and hints of fig. It is slightly spicy with good acidity and a long finish. It is a very elegant wine, with an aftertaste that is the essence of Sauvignon.

    • This wine has been awarded the Tre Bicchieri by Gambero Rosso for thirteen vintages
    • One of the best cooperatives in Italy
    • First cooperative to win the Gambero Rosso Winery of the Year award - 2000
    • Hans Tezer is one of the great white winemakers
    • 100% Sauvignon blanc

You will be happy with any of these

  • Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva DOC 2005 – Villa Bucci (Marche)

    Charles says: The Bucci family has owned land in the Castelli di Jesi area since the 1700s, including one of the castles. Their wine is made from 100% Verdicchio grapes. It is aged in large Slavonian oak casks (botti) of 50-75 hl for one to two years, plus one year in bottle before release. The wine is only produced in good years. The vines for this wine are over 40 years old and the oenologist is the legendary Giorgio Grai.

    Ampelio Bucci believes that this is a white wine with red wine characteristics. It should be served cool but not cold and should be opened one half hour before it is to be served.

    Barrel aging gives it a fullness and roundness that is evident on the palate. It has aromas of flowers, herbs, dried fruit, and spice.

    • Has red wine characteristics
    • Aged in large Slavonian oak barrels
    • Owner Ampelio Bucci is a master blender of wine
    • Consulting oenologist is the legendary Giorgio Grai
  • Soave Classico La Rocca 2005 DOC - Leonildo Pieropan (Veneto)

    Charles says: 100% Garganega grapes, usually late harvest, from the La Rocca vineyard. In 2005, the grapes were not late harvested and they still made a great wine. It is aged in 500 liter oak barrels (tonneau) for several months and then in 20hl barrels for about one year, then six months in bottle before release.

    It has tropical fruit aromas with hints of hazelnuts and almonds. Good acidity. On the palate, there is spice and citrus fruit with a long finish and great aftertaste. I have been drinking this Soave since 1981 and it has never disappointed me.

    • This wine is in the top tier of Decanter Magazine's
    • The Classico area is where the best Soave is made
    • This is a single vineyard wine, which takes its name from the adjacent medieval castle and fortress “La Rocca”
    • The first vintage was 1978
  • Etna Bianco Superiore Pietramarina 2003 DOC – Benanti (Sicily)

    Charles says: Made from 100% Carricante grapes from the eastern slope of Mount Etna. This indigenous grape is only cultivated on Mount Etna. It is grown at an altitude of 950 meters. The vines are 80 years old and are “alberello” style (free standing bush). It is vinified and aged in stainless steel, which gives it a fresh fruity character with good acidity. It has an aroma of oranges and ripe apples. The aftertaste is long with hints of almonds and anise.

    When I visited the winery a few years ago, we tasted wines that were ten and fifteen years old and they have with stood the test of time.

    • Benanti was last year’s winner of the Gambero Rosso Winery of the Year award
    • Carricante grapes are cultivated only on the slopes of Mount Etna
    • The wine benefits from the proximity of the sea and the volcanic sandy soil
    • It should not be drunk until at least four years after the harvest
  • Greco di Tufo Novaserra 2006 DOCG – Mastroberardino (Campania)

    Charles says: Made from 100% Greco, a grape that was brought to Southern Italy by the Ancient Greeks in the first century BC. The wine is fermented in barriques, which give it a smooth, round quality. It has aromas of apricot, pear, and peach with good acidity and a bitter almond finish.

    A few years ago I was given a number of old vintages of this wine going back to 1979. This is a wine that will age and a 1983, my last bottle, I drank recently was still fresh with ripe fruit.

    • The Greco grape was brought to Southern Italy by the Ancient Greeks
    • The Greco grape was mentioned by Pliny the Elder
    • The Mastroberardino family has saved this grape from extinction
    • The wine is fermented in barriques
    • I chose their Taurasi Raidici Riserva as one of my Best Italian Red Wines
  • Fiano di Avellino Pietracaida 2006 DOCG – Feudi di San Gregorio (Campania)

    Charles says: Made from 100% Fiano grapes a variety mentioned in Pliny’s “The Natural History” written 2,000 years ago. He called it “Vitis Apiana” because it attracted bees – “api”. This is a state of the art winery founded in 1986 that uses ancient grapes but gives them a modern spin.

    The wine undergoes alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel vats but does not undergo malolatic fermentation. This gives the wine a fresh fruity flavor with good acidity. It has aromas of apples, pears, and honey, with mineral notes and a hint of hazelnuts.

    • Volcanic ash deposits from Vesuvius give the wine distinctive aromas and flavors
    • Does not undergo malolatic fermentation
    • State of the art modern winery founded in 1986
    • Grape mentioned by Pliny the Elder
    • Enologist is Riccardo Cotarella

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The best Italian white wines offer a diversity of delicious aromas and flavors. These Italian wines offer a complexity in traditional style wines and modern-style wines with an innovative taste. Choose from dry white wine and sweet white wine at the best price, for your dinner party or a glass of wine after work.