Though Italy is surely best known for the magnificence of its best reds, we’d actually argue that the most impressive aspect of Italian winemaking right now is white wine from underappreciated corners. From subalpine Friuli and Alto Adige in the Northeast to Le Marche on the Adriatic Coast to the mountains of Abruzzo, some of the best white wine in the world is being made somewhere in Italy. And, even the best, rarest, and most well-known bottlings cost a fraction of what you’ll pay for the very best in France, for example. We’re constantly impressed with the quality that can be found in Italy for under $20 a bottle. From the same producer we have the lovely Cocciocola Bianco, a searingly mineral and lime-flecked white sure to please lovers of everything from Chenin Blanc to White Burgundy and beyond.

This rare expression of 100% Cococciola drinks like great Chablis or Muscadet, with minerality, freshness, and yellow orchard fruit driving the experience. On the nose, notes of white flowers, chalky minerals, and bright yellow pears dominate, and moving to the palate the wine is tart and zippy, highlighting notes of white pepper and mango. It is at its best drunk well chilled and with seafood. Try it with our recipe for Sake Steamed Clams with Soba Noodles.

Cococciola is a Abruzzese blender grape that was at one time popular for that purpose, but has since fallen out of favor. Fewer than 1000 hectares of it are still cultivated, as growers favor better known (and easier to sell!) varieties like Pecorino, Trebbiano, and Chardonnay. And varieties such as these are the breadwinners at Vallevo as well, however these traditionalists are helping to keep this native variety alive. Often compared to Sauvignon Blanc for its tendency to be fresh and herbal, it offers a new lens through which we can view this unique region’s terroir.