I bought a bottle of this wine at a small store last week in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. I suspected that it would be good rifflabel.jpg because it was “selected” and bottled by Alois Lageder, that exemplary producer of white wines in northeastern Italy. The result knocked me out.

The Riff Pinot Grigio delle Venezia 2006 is frankly one of the best pinot grigio wines from Italy that I have ever tasted. It certainly shows more character and nuance than the ubiquitous and over-priced Santa Margherita, at the top level, or than scores of bland examples at the lower level.

Made completely in stainless steel, the Riff 2006 is absolutely lovely, very fresh and crisp, with a hint of spritz. It’s like drinking liquid limestone and shale that are permeated by roasted lemon and lime peel, crushed jasmine, camellia and almond blossom, with a touch of almond. The texture is dense, almost talc-like, and the finish comes close to smacky in the power of its packed-in spice, yet the wine never loses its sense of delicacy and appeal. I rate this wine Excellent for drinking through the rest of 2008.

The price? About $9. Definitely Worth a Search, and I mean phone calls, twisting arms, and threats, if you have to.

It’s marketed in this country by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, in Napa, California.