By Rick Riozza

Since summer is already here, we thought you desert dwellers would love to hear and consider a couple of white Italian wines that simply bump-up any summer party you’re planing to throw. Saluti!

So many wine lovers think only of the famous and popular Italian red wines that they forget to taste and enjoy the equally delicious whites of Italy. And the more the enthusiast gets into Italian wine, the more they come to realize that there are just as many white varietals as there are reds.

So let’s talk about a couple of wines that are both interesting, sexy, somewhat off the radar, but delicious no less, and are available at most wine shops and higher-end wine supermarkets in our area.


Many of you Italian wine lovers have already been to Italy—and, most have traveled to Napoli and a bit further south to the famous Amalfi Coast. It is there that you were served the most delightful and refreshing Falanghina [fah-lahn-GHEE-nah], and perhaps you’ve not only been trying to locate the wine here in the states, but you’re even trying to recollect its name! Allora!–L’hai trovato! You’ve now found it!

So a little fanfare of course: Most sommeliers consider Falanghina to be one of the most delicious white wines, not only of Italy, but anywhere for that matter. Falanghina is at home in the region of Campania in southwestern Italy, where you’ve enjoyed the best of what bread and tomatoes have to offer the world: pizza napoletana!

And just as the land and the region has produced the best food ingredients, so too, the region produces such a delicious wine from the local Fiano grape grown there.

There are five provinces in the region, and wine is produced in each one; the location of the vineyards range from coastal to inland, and most vines are planted in hillsides.

While the climate varies in these regions, one common denominator regarding Falanghina being grown in various territories in the region is the naturally high acidity of the grape. This results in notable freshness in the wines, which adds to its appeal.

Here have fun imagining all the general aromatic make-up of the wine: almonds, apples, apricots, earth, flowers, hazelnuts, herbs, honey, minerals, mint, nuts, peaches, pears, smoke, and white pepper. Didn’t already declare this to be a sexy win

One of our current favorites is the 2023 Falanghina del Sannio DOC Feudi di San Gregorio($23) This wine absolutely reflects Campania’s legendary mineral-rich volcanic soils (does Mt. Vesuvius come to mind) in a way that so many flavors listed above are brought to a fresh enticing quaff.

And just a note: off the Amalfi Coast, one can see the Fiano vineyards on the hillsides and on the cliffs. No machine is working these vineyards—all of the harvesting is done by hand. It’s known locally as vinificazione eroica—heroic winemaking!

The Winemaker’s notes state: “The color is straw yellow that contains brilliant green reflections. The perfume is intense and persistent with sensations of delicate white flowers and fruit. The taste offers freshness and balance, with a clean finish.”

We found lime blossom, peaches, herbs, olives and salted lemons. It’s tangy and zesty with a nice full finish. The wine is ideal as a simple aperitif; can also accompany various types of appetizers, antipasti & salads, young cheeses, asparagus, grilled and fried seafood & shellfish.

While we were on the partial subject of volcanoes, why not cover another fantastic grape that also bespeaks the quality of the region by way of its volcanic soils: 2022 Alta Mora Etna Bianco ($35).

Beyond trending and now a virtual vino staple, these days no wine enthusiast should be without a favorite Sicilian white wine in their fridge. One can remedy the time by grabbing and chilling a few of these Alta Mora bianchi. This wine has such a pleasant aroma and drinks as smooth as a baby’s cheek with flowers in the background.

At 93 points, critic J. Suckling wrote, “Notes of ripe apples and pears with spices, chamomile and a stony minerality to it. Medium-bodied, sleek and polished with juicy acidity and delicious fruit. Layered and characterful.”

The name Alta Mora translates to “High, Black” representing the great heights and dark soils of Mt. Etna. The volcano itself is nearly 11,000 feet high and vineyards are planted up to 4,000 feet high! The Alta Mora project truly captures the essence of the Cusumano family. They believe in taking great risk to produce great, unique wines!

We’ve covered the Alta Mora previously with their delicious red Nero Mascalese wine. As the story goes, “It has been a lifelong dream for the Cusumano brothers to build a winery among the black, fertile soils of Mt. Etna. In April 2013, after years of searching, there appeared a unique opportunity to acquire the first three slopes of Etna.”

Native to Sicily’s Mount Etna, Carricante is a high acid white grape known for minerality. It’s at its best on the east slope of the volcano, showing saltiness and texture with ample acidity to age for decades.

Alta Mora Etna Bianco Carricante grapes are 100% estate grown and hand harvested. The Cusumano family treats each wine as an artisanal piece of art and strives for pristine results in every bottle. Enjoy the wine world and taste some delicious Sicilian wine. Saluti!