In Italy, red wines hog the spotlight. And rightly so: There's no doubt that Barolo, Barbaresco and Chianti Classico are among the world's greatest teeth stainers. But at Locanda Verde, Italian whites put up a fierce fight for supremacy.
This has to do in part with the menu: When faced with a snowy white mound of creamy ricotta, fatty cotechino (pork sausage) or a mosaic of pig pieces on a platter with headcheese, white wins hands down. Even the porchetta sandwich asks for the acidic relief of a sharp white wine.
But it's also thanks to sommelier Joshua Nadel, who has scoured the boot from top to toe for fabulous white wines. And there's not a wimpy Pinot Grigio on his list: Instead, he skirts the edges of the country, stopping in places like Valle d'Aosta, Liguria and Sicily, where he's scooped up wild wines made from native grapes like Vespaiolo, Kerner, Ribolla Gialla, Timorasso and Coda di Volpe.
The resulting far-flung selection (click here to see the full wine list) demands either a sense of adventure or Nadel's guidance, but your reward is deliciousness as well as savings, as nearly all fall well below $100.
Here are four of Nadel's current favorites:
2008 Manni Nossing Kerner ($65) "It's incredibly steely and mineral-driven without losing the overt fruit flavors," Nadel says of this Kerner, a cross between Trollinger and Riesling grapes that grow near the Austrian border.
2008 Contra Soarda Vespaiolo ($12 a glass) "Usually Vespaiolo is made into Torcolato or Grappa," Nadel says of this Veneto grape. This rare dry version is floral, wild and spicy. "It's my favorite wine with the tripe."
2007 Princic Friulano ($65) "Friulano has good flesh to it; the Princic is minerally and mouthwatering" he says of this version of the Grape Formerly Known as Tocai Friulano, from the far northeast of Italy.
2008 Cantina del Taburno Coda di Volpe Amineo ($11 a glass) "One of the background singer whites of Campania," Nadel says of Coda di Volpe, this one is as juicy as a ripe pear, but with plenty of acidity and flinty notes from Campania's volcanic soils.
Locanda Verde, 377 Greenwich St. (at N. Moore St.); 212-925-3797 or locandaverdenyc.com
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