The crisp, dry white wines of Italy — whether from the cool, mountainous areas of the northeast or the sun-drenched island of Sicily — are well-known for their compatibility with food and affordable prices.
Here are three wines to beat the summer heat and pour alongside grilled chicken and seafood, and entrée salads.
BACKGROUND: All three wines — by Stemmari and Cliffhanger — are produced under the Gruppo Mezzacorona umbrella — Mezzacorona is a noted winery in the Dolomite Mountains of Northeast Italy. Stemmari is their new brand coming out of Sicily that besides Pinot Grigio and the Dalila white blend include a Nero D’ Avola, Moscato and Nero d’Avola-Cabernet Sauvignon blend called Cantodoro, all affordably priced.
Cliffhanger is a new item by Mezzacorona so named to represent wines “crafted on the edge of perfection” — and indeed they come off small, prized vineyards growing on steeply terraced, granite-faced slopes. Wines include a Pinot Grigio and proprietary red blend.
Stemmari formerly was branded under the Feudo Arancio name. Both Stemmari and Cliffhanger share the same head winemaker at Mezzacorona and are strict adherents of sustainable growing practices. Mezzacorona wines have been sold in the Michigan market for a long time.
Stemmari Pinot Grigio Sicily 2013, $9.99
Intense citrus, white-stone fruit and minerality entice the nose. In the mouth, you catch the floral, mineral tones, an herbaceous note and a ton of citrus. This is a bigger-than-usual Pinot Grigio, dry and begging for fresh-caught seafood, shellfish, grilled chicken or a hearty summer salad. It finishes long and strong. (This wine is widely distributed in Metro Detroit.)
Cliffhanger Vineyard Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC Italy 2013, $12.99
You have to love the contemporary label and the wine in the bottle of this beauty. It’s clean, dry, crisp. Aromas of lime, lemon, orange zest, melon and a touch of pineapple kiss the nose. Flavors are dry, floral and minerally making it an ideal aperitif. It’s produced off the mountainous estate vineyards by Mezzacorona — the ultra-modern winery in the heart of the Italian Dolomite range. This is a new wine just now rolling out across the country. Ask your wine merchant about it.
Stemmari “Dalila” IGT Sicily 2012, $13.99
This is a bold, clean, dry, crisp food wine: a blend of 80 percent Grillo and 20 percent Viognier. Grillo is a widely used varietal in Sicily. It’s an interesting blend, with the orange peel and rose petal of the Viognier streaming through the crisp citrus and herbal notes of the Grillo. The Grillo is fermented in stainless steel; the Viognier sees time in neutral oak. It’s a wine experience for experienced palates.
You can reach Sandra Silfven at ssilfven@Hotmail.com.