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Meet an Italian winery that makes $20 stunners


Every now and then, I encounter a winery that excels with so many wines I don't know where to start in telling people about them. So consider this a blanket recommendation for Fratelli Rabino, a winery in Italy's Piemonte region, just a few miles west of Alba. That's the home of white truffles and Barolo, two luxury-priced items, but the Rabino family has found a sweet spot where they can produce outstanding wines at moderate prices. They are not trying to be among the "kings" of Italian wine, just to make delicious vino - and they nail it. They are worth seeking out. I include two here, plus a fascinating skin-fermented Gewürztraminer from Oregon, a tasty New York Riesling and a flowery Viognier from Argentina.

GREAT VALUE

Fratelli Rabino Roero Arneis 2016

3 star

Piemonte, Italy, $20

This delicate, gossamer white wine is electrifying with lemon and lime flavors, plus scents of jasmine and ginger. I can't tell whether it comes straight from the garden or from the earth's soul. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent.

GREAT VALUE

Fratelli Rabino Nebbiolo d'Alba 2015

3 star

Piemonte, Italy, $20

Savory and lush, this lovely red wine wraps you in a blanket of comfort and reassures you that, if your day was hell, at least dinner will be delicious. The winery makes another nebbiolo from the Roero appellation and a Barbera d'Alba - both are equally worth seeking out. ABV: 14 percent.

Biggio Hamina Andreas Vineyard Gewurztraminer 2016

3 star

Willamette Valley, Oregon, $23

This is a delightfully oddball wine - a skin-fermented Gewürztraminer, which means a white wine made more like a red. The technique adds a salmon-pink color that looks sort of rosé, sort of golden, plus some tannin astringency. The wine has some of the flowery, litchi character Gewurz is known for, but it's sneaky - those qualities emerge only as the wine opens and warms. This is a good wine to enjoy by itself, and let it spur conversation, but it also pairs well with some heartier or spicier seafood and poultry dishes. I love it. ABV: 13 percent.

GREAT VALUE

Influence Wines Riesling 2016

2 stars

Finger Lakes, New York, $14

This wine grew on me. My first impression was, "Yeah, it's Riesling." But after it warmed a bit in my glass, it revealed lime zest and lemon curd flavors and a creamy texture that caught my attention and made me want another glass. ABV: 11.5 percent.

GREAT VALUE

Las Perdices Viognier 2017

2 stars

Mendoza, Argentina, $12

Honeysuckle, jasmine and perhaps a hint of passion fruit or mango characterize this ripe and tasty white wine from Argentina. Consider this for brunch, appetizers or light grazing. ABV: 13.5 percent.

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Three stars exceptional, two stars excellent, one star very good

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Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.


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