Italian Whites 

It's as true in wine as it is in fashion--white is the color of choice after Memorial Day. When the heat is on, red wine starts to feel a little too heavy, even in the air-conditioned comfort of home. A well-chilled glass of white is what I want, preferably while sitting on a patio overlooking the Italian coast, but the closest my budget will come to that is a bottle of Italian white. We tried a lineup featuring different grapes from different regions, all hailing from Italy and all with the emphasis on refreshment. Here are the panel's picks:

2007 Fontevecchia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, $17.50

In the central Italian region of Marche on the Adriatic coast, Verdicchio is the preferred white. A refreshing wine of substance, this Fontevecchia Verdicchio is a great example of how good this grape can be. The aromas are a mix of ripe apple, citrus and tangerine, along with an intriguing bit of sweet pea and fresh garden greens. This is a nicely textured wine that offers creamy peach and juicy apple flavors that are as elegant as they are charming.

Lamura Grillo, $9.99

The grillo grape is indigenous to Sicily and is best known as a component of Marsala--the one fortified wine that retail shops in Idaho can't sell. As a table wine, it has much to recommend, offering the weight of chardonnay with the crispness of sauvignon blanc. The aromas here are a mix of peach and tropical fruit with a nice hint of clover. The fruit flavors are dominated by lively citrus, but there's a definite richness to this wine and good persistence on the finish. An undeniable bargain in a summer white.

2007 San Georgio Pinot Grigio, $12.99

Sweet melon aromas with a touch of fig play against bright citrus and quince on the nose of this wine. Straightforward fruit flavors mark the palate--white peach, lime and gooseberry--with a touch of candied lemon peel, adding interest on the finish. It's a refreshing wine with good acidity; serve it as an aperitif, but it would also shine with simply prepared fish like sole, cod or tilapia.

This week's panel: Greg Barnes, J.R. Premier Wines; David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; Karen McMillin, Young's Market; Kevin Settles, Bardenay.

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