At a luncheon recently, I was poured a sauvignon blanc tasting so intensely of the Italian hillsides it came from that it elevated the lobster dish I was eating, throwing the crustacean's rich, natural flavor into high relief. Like the lobster, the soil in which the grapes for Meroi Sauvignon Colli Orientali del Friuli 2011 ($37) grow, a calcium-rich mudstone called ponca, was once beneath the ocean. The wine's minerality and acidity buoy seafoods and poultry, while its flowery aroma and herbaceous finish layer on complexity. Winemaker Damiano Meroi grows his grapes organically, presses them gently, and barrel-ages wines from different plots separately before blending. His family has been coddling their grapes for five generations, at times against tremendous odds: Forced to cook for Nazis occupying their small winery and restaurant during World War II, they built a fake wall in their cellar and hid their best bottles until the armistice.
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