Wine Wisdom columnist Chris Dillman says the Falanghina option is summer sipping at its best.

Although not well known in this country, Falanghina is grown extensively in its native Italy.

This ancient varietal has a fondness for the volcanic soils of Italy's sunny south. The fact that its range of cultivation surrounds tourist hotspots like Naples and the Amalfi Coast means it's the table wine of many tourists, whether they're familiar with the name or not.

The Cantina del Taburno is a quality-minded co-op that rewards growers for quality rather than quantity. This allows them to keep prices low and both quantity and quality high.

So, what's the 2009 Falanghina like? Imagine Pinot Grigio with soul. The nose shows the southern warmth in its ripe citrus and tropical aromas. The plump pineapple, candied lemon and sweet orange that dominate the nose give way to tarter and crisper citrus fruit on the palate. It finishes dry, taut and palpably minerally. Its exotic intro might be more than a Pinot Grigio fan is used to, but its clean mineral finish should bring them back to a familiar place.

Although it's at home with a range of light summery foods, I most often find myself staring down an empty bottle before dinner's even close. This is summer sipping at its best.

It retails for $13.99 and is available locally at Vincenzo's and the Twisted Vine, among others. If your local store doesn't care it, they can order it for you from Vintner Select.


Chris Dillman, an advanced sommelier, is studying for his master sommelier designation. He now works at Sage American Bistro.