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 VolpeThis pinot grigio is rich and weighty, with lovely purity to its fruit and a poised, attractive personality. $25
Schiopetto 2006 Pinot GrigioAromas 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 GrisThis 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 FriulanoExpressive, 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 GrigioA 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 BiancoThe 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 FriulanoFull-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 SauvignonA 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.