Break free from what you know and try these exciting white wines

John Wilson: I have tasted lots of exciting wines from lesser-known regions. The biggest treasure trove was Italy

The world of wine is dominated by a few well-known grape varieties. For white wines, many consumers stick to Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and (more recently) Albariño.

However, those reluctant to experiment are missing out. Over the last few months I have tasted a huge number of really exciting wines from lesser-known regions and grape varieties. The biggest treasure trove was Italy, a country with a huge bewildering number of grape varieties many only grown in specific areas with unique flavours. Many are available over here, and not all are expensive.

Manzoni Bianco is one of a series of crossings made by Professor Manzoni in the 1930s. Its parents are Riesling and Pinot Bianco, both high-quality varieties, so it is not surprising that manzoni can be very good too.

The Greco di Tufo comes from the Campania region, a semicircle of mountainous volcanic vineyards around the city of Naples. Although far to the south of Italy, the climate here is cool, with some of the latest harvest dates in the entire country.


The Etna Bianco below comes from the volcanic soils on the slopes of the very active Mount Etna. Here, the carricante grape produces some excellent fresh mineral white wines.

Arneis is unique to Piemonte. We are familiar with the big powerful red wines of the region, but there is also a range of excellent white wines, sometimes made using chardonnay, but usually one of an array of local indigenous grapes. The wine below is certainly not cheap, but it is made by one of the legendary producers of Italy.

Manzoni Bianco 2022, IGP Veneto

12.5% abv, €11.75

Floral aromas, fresh green apple fruits with a touch of honey. Perfect solo or with lighter fish and chicken dishes. From Marks & Spencer.

Greco di Tufo 2022

12.5% abv, €11.99

Good floral aromas, fresh pear fruits and a brisk citrus mineral acidity. Try it with grilled white fish, or creamy cheeses. From Lidl

Pietrodolce Etna Bianco 2022, Sicily

13% abv, €29.99

All delicate lemon zest and green almonds with an intensely mineral saline finish. Enjoy with grilled sea bass or a fresh mozzarella salad. From Green, D6W; The Corkscrew, D2; Barnhill Stores, Dalkey; Neighbourhood Wine;;

Roero Arneis 2021, Bruno Giacosa

14% abv, €46

Fresh herbs and lemon zest with succulent stone fruits and a dry finish. Expensive but very tasty. From Clontarf Wines; Green Man, D6W.