Brilliant Italian White Wines

Vie di Romans from Friuli-Venezia Giulia in northeast Italy is making some extraordinarily elegant, and food-friendly, wines

My assistant Antonio Galloni states unequivocally (and I agree) that Gianfranco Gallo, the proprietor of Vie di Romans, produces some of the most brilliant dry, crisp, pure-as-a-mountain-stream, light-bodied whites that can be found in the world. The viticultural area he has helped make famous is Friuli-Venezia Giulia in northeast Italy, and these wines, for the most part, are all tank-fermented and aged, have laserlike precision, crispness, and vivid fruit. Their elegance is unquestionable, and their refreshing characteristics and food-friendliness are remarkable. These wines generally don't age more than two to three years, so they are best consumed in their vivid and vibrant youthfulness.

89 points 2005 Vie di Romans Dut Un

The 2005 Dut Un is a blend of Chardonnay Vie di Romans and Sauvignon Blanc Vieris. This is one of the estate's few wines that are less than convincing. Yes, there is beautiful integration of the two wines, but this bottling lacks the definition and sheer personality that is the calling card of the estate's top wines. Anticipated maturity: now-2016. $75

90 points 2006 Vie di Romans Malvasia Istriana Dis Cumieris

The 2006 Malvasia Istriana Dis Cumieris opens with a soaring bouquet of ripe apricots, honey, jasmine, and cloves. This perfumed, medium-bodied wine flows with gorgeous texture and tons of finesse. Anticipated maturity: now-2012. $38

90 points 2006 Vie di Romans Sauvignon Piere

The 2006 Sauvignon Piere exhibits grassy notes, along with suggestions of mint, minerals, crushed rocks, and white peaches. This medium-bodied sauvignon offers outstanding length and tons of balance. The Sauvignon Piere was aged in steel. A recent bottle of the 1996 was still in fine shape, although admittedly I prefer these wines on the younger side. Anticipated maturity: now-2012. $38

91 points 2006 Vie di Romans Chardonnay Ciampagnis Vieris

The 2006 Chardonnay Ciampagnis Vieris reveals a vibrant, minerally expression of rich, tropical fruit, flowers, and spices. This fresh, poised chardonnay was aged in steel. As is often the case, the Chardonnay Vieris is one of the highlights in this lineup. Anticipated maturity: now-2012. $38

91 points 2006 Vie di Romans Dessimis

The Dessimis represents an extreme expression of pinot grigio, but from time to time this French oak-aged wine outperforms, as it does in 2006. To be sure, there is not a lot of varietal character here, but the wine does offer terrific harmony in its pears, spices, flowers, and sweet toasted oak. This richly textured, stylish wine finishes with outstanding length and tons of polished style. The 1996 is still going strong. Anticipated maturity: now-2014. $42

91 points 2005 Vie di Romans Riesling Renano Prin Freet

The 2005 Riesling Renano Prin Freet reveals beautiful, varietal aromatics. Although the wine is leaner on the palate than the open bouquet suggests, there are expressive notes of white peaches, apricots, petrol, flowers, and minerals to be found in this pretty, delicate offering. The Riesling was aged in steel. Anticipated maturity: now-2012. Price not available.

92 points 2006 Vie di Romans Bianco Dolée

The 2006 Bianco Dolée (tocai) presents an unusual expression of this indigenous variety. This French oak-aged tocai offers up generous notes of honeyed peaches, minerals, mint, nutmeg, and flowers. There isn't anything in particular that stands out here. Rather, this is a wine that conquers the palate through its uncommon grace and harmony. Anticipated maturity: now-2012. $42

93 points 2006 Vie di Romans Chardonnay Vie di Romans

The 2006 Chardonnay Vie di Romans is quite possibly the most elegant chardonnay I have ever tasted from this property. A multitude of ripe, tropical fruit, toasted oak, spices, and truffles emerge from this richly textured, generous white. Despite the wine's ripeness, there is more than enough minerality to provide balance as well as freshness. The Chardonnay Vie di Romans was aged in French oak (40% new), with frequent bâtonnage (stirring of the fine lees). Anticipated maturity: now-2016. $42

93 points 2006 Vie di Romans Sauvignon Vieris

The Sauvignon Vieris has never been better than it is in 2006. The French oak has given this wine an extra dimension of weight and richness without sacrificing varietal character. There is superb integration of aromas and flavors as layers of ripe peaches, apricots, mint, and minerals emerge from this wonderfully harmonious, seamless wine. Anticipated maturity: now-2016. $42

94 points 2006 Vie di Romans Flors di Uis

The 2006 Flors di Uis is a blend of tocai, Riesling Renano, and malvasia. Here the whole is clearly greater than the sum of its parts. This weighty, rich white flows from the glass with a multitude of apricots, candied orange peel, flowers, honey, minerals, and sweet spices. The wine possesses remarkable finesse, not to mention a clean finish that lingers on the palate for minutes. Flors di Uis is one of Italy's great whites, and in 2006 it is a pure jewel of a wine. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2014. $42

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