This week I rounded up two unusual Italian whites in local stores, and we tried them both last night.
With the appetizer course of humboldt fog chevre and a lightly sweet cucumber slices with garlic and vinegar, I served the 2009 de Tarczal Moscato Giallo
from Trentino. A dry wine with a winningly modest 12.9%, we both found ourselves struggling for descriptors. The muscat was very evident in the nose, frisky grapefruit and all that. But on the palate there was a sweet perfumey taste that belies where one usually finds perfume, but that's what we both called it while searching for other references until Bob nailed it by mentioning viognier. YES, it smelled like muscat but had the lavender-bergamotty taste of viognier. The finish was viognier-like too, verging-on-offdry. It's well-made and interesting, and it suited the course well, but we agreed that we wouldn't be tempted to purchase again unless we needed something "pretty" for someone's mother-in-law.
$15, a Small Vineyards Import.
Our main course was pesto-crusted grilled rockfish with cabbage and thin carrot slices stir-fried with fresh garlic brought to me just that morning by my friend Marco. With that we tasted the bigger-bodied 2008 Tenuta Sant'Antonio Scaia Bianca
, a blend of garganega, trebbiano and chardonnay from the Veneto. Bolder fruit and bigger acid made it immediately more compelling, but it was less interesting after it sat in the glass. In the process of knitting together it got a little too homogenous where the jagged edges as each of the three grapes fought for your attention had been electrifying in a good way. Orange, grass, apple, hazelnuts, salt--all these great flavors somersaulted in and out of the picture. Seemed a tiny bit hot by comparison to the Moscato Giallo, but that might have been the acid playing with our imaginations: the label says it was actually less, 12.5%. $12, imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct.