Even with the weak dollar, you still get good value in the crisp, dry white wines from the Friuli region of northeast Italy. The wines are fermented quickly, aged at low temperatures (usually in stainless steel), and bottled as soon as possible to retain their freshness. Most will reach maturity in 2009 and 2010, but they can be enjoyed now, too. They work well with fried fish or pastas in light broths. These selections are from my colleague Antonio Galloni.
Volpe Pasini 2006 Pinot Grigio Zuc di Volpe
This pinot grigio is rich and weighty, with lovely purity to its fruit and a poised, attractive personality. $25
Schiopetto 2006 Pinot Grigio
Aromas of jasmine, flowers, and white peaches accompany a simple, accessible wine. It has good persistence if not quite the balance of the estate's best 2006 bottles. $32
Lis Neris 2005 Pinot Grigio Gris
This offering reveals ripe fruit, smoke, and mineral notes, with good, but not great, persistence. The use of wood for aging has given the wine a little more roundness and complexity than the typical pinot grigio. $23
Livio Felluga 2006 Tocai Friulano
Expressive, floral aromatics give way to a lovely core of sweet, focused fruit with excellent persistence and a long, clean finish. $25
Branko 2005 Collio Pinot Grigio
A pure, clean expression of pinot grigio, this 2005 offers terrific energy on the palate from its citrus and minerals, with a nice sweetness to the fruit that carries through to a long finish. $29
Villa Russiz 2006 Pinot Bianco
The wine is perfumed with citrus, grapefruit, jasmine, and spice notes that develop in the glass. It is elegant and expressive $29.
Roncús 2004 Collio Tocai Friulano
Full-bodied, unctuous, and bursting with aromas of honey, melon, sage, and crushed rocks, this opulent, personality-filled tocai offers superb length as well as an inviting note of sweetness on the finish. $30
Scubla 2006 Sauvignon
A superb effort redolent of citrus, green apples, minerals, smoke, and tomato leaves, this pure, focused sauvignon blanc offers outstanding persistence and a long, resonating finish. $23
Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.