2 Bargain Italian Whites To Enhance Al Fresco Dining

Ah, summer.  Here on the East Coast, south of New York, it's hot, humid, and sticky.  What better way to combat the heat than to reach for a wine that will complement your Italian-inspired picnic food as well as quench your thirst? Here are two:

Broglia Il Doge Gavi 2015 ($16)

Full disclosure: I had never before, to my knowledge, tasted the varietal cortese di Gavi before, so this fresh wine, medium yellow in the glass, was a pleasant surprise. The nose was at first difficult to detect; I realized that I had over-chilled the wine and set it aside. When it warmed up a bit, floral and faint citrus notes emerged, followed by plenty of lemon-drenched fruit with a hint of white flowers and almond on the palate.The mouthfeel is lightly round, dry, with a zesty medium finish. 

Gavi is located in the far northwestern part of Italy, in the Piedmont, where the vines thrive in clay soil at an average elevation of 750 feet. The wines from this, the youngest vineyard on the Broglia estate, are noted for their pleasing acidity. Winemaker Donato Lanati uses stainless steel vinification and ages this wine for a few months only, resulting in a food-friendly wine appropriate for an aperitif or simple fare.  I'd honor the region, pack an al fresco meal of cold shrimp, frittata, salumi, and cheese, and tuck an extra bottle in for thirsty friends.

Arnaldo-Caprai Grecante Grechetto dei Colli Martani 2015 ($16)

This pleasing wine hails from Umbria, a lovely region overshadowed by neighboring Tuscany. Made from 100 percent grechetto bianco, an ancient Greek varietal, the wine is a pretty straw yellow in the glass and marries white stone fruit with floral and some mineral notes. Often blended with trebbiano and a host of other varietals to compose Orvieto, grechetto is finally getting the respect it deserves as a single varietal.

Aged three months in stainless and another three months in the bottle, this is a fresh, well-balanced, fruit-forward wine with plenty of crisp acidity in the finish to battle the summer heat. This wine would pair beautifully with all seafood, and it's delicious by itself or perhaps with a handful of almonds as an aperitif.