- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mandrarossa, Fiano, Sicily, Italy, 2007, $10

Not long ago, quality white wines simply didn’t come from hot grape-growing regions. The problem wasn’t in the vineyards so much as the wineries, where the wines would begin to sour even as they finished fermentation.

Thanks to temperature-control technology, vintners now can capture the fresh flavors of light-skinned grapes and produce wines that taste crisp and clean rather than dirty or oxidized. That’s why savvy shoppers can find many exciting white wines from seemingly unlikely places - central Spain, for example, or southern Italy.

Sicily certainly seems an unlikely place for good white wine. Temperatures on this island off the toe of Italy can be blazing hot. Yet some exciting, lively whites are coming from Sicily. They tend not to be made with grapes such as chardonnay that fare best when planted in cooler climes, but rather with varieties that have adapted to the heat. Grillo and inzolia are two promising native examples, as is fiano, a grape imported to the island from Campania on the mainland.

Full-flavored, with primary fruit that echoes pears and apples and secondary notes that hint at roasted nuts, fiano offers an attractively smooth texture that enables it to pair well with fairly hearty seafood dishes.

This particular example, made by a winery founded in the early 1990s, offers a good, value-priced introduction.

Very refreshing, it should provide satisfying sipping all summer long.

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