Adriatic Sea - kudos to the guys at www.backroads.com for this tantalizing image"Wanna get away?" If you, like me, reside in a place where falling snow is a telltale sign winter is fully underway, you are often thinking of an escape to other places. Sometimes we are so lucky to just up and go. And sometimes we have to find other ways to scratch the itch and explore something new, that makes us feel like we're getting away. I've learned winter is not a time to abandon whites. In fact, they are often the perfect thing! Last weekend, with snow in the forecast (again), I decided to live vicariously through my culinary escapades.... And haddock with a mango salsa, lemon roasted potatoes and (interestingly) roasted spears of sweet summer squash were just my ticket! Truth be told, I had been eying a brand new white we had just brought into the store and knew such a fresh take on a winter warming menu would be a perfect match for my wine of the weekend. I popped the cork on the 2007 DiLeonardo Toh! Friulano and dug in.

Friul-what? Free-u-lano. This is a mouthwatering, fleshy, medium-bodied white from Italy's northeastern-most region: Friuli. This area of the world offers views of both the Alps in the distance or, perhaps better yet, the Adriatic Sea. There they experience a humid Mediterranean climate, with colder winters and warm summers (of course, these days I'm more focused on the idea of warm summers...). Like all great wine-producing regions, a place does it's best work when they cultivate varietals that work best with their unique conditions. The wines coming from Friuli, most noteably (Tocai) Friulano are said to rival the greatest wines of Tuscany and Piedmont. The fact that the majority of these wines are white makes them, in my opinion, that much more desirable. (Afterall, if I want a great Italian red, it's true I usually pop on 'over' to both Tuscany and Piedmont accordingly; this way Friuli has a special place in my heart.)

So why do I keep putting parenthesis around "Tocai"? Well, here's a fun fact: the EU recently mandated wines from this region drop the "Tocai" so they are not "confused" with Tokay from Hungary. Yes, Tokay is a dessert wine. And no, Tocai Friulano tastes nothing like it. But, it's true, both are absolutely scrumptious in their own right. And I guess it could be confusing... Whatever your opinion, moving forward you'll only see "Friulano" on labels, after the indigenous grape varietal itself.

Back to my weekend escape, the Toh! truly is a beautiful wine with an exceptionally good QPR, retailing for ~$12. Gotta love that. The nose on this wine simply bursts with aromas of flower blossoms and recently-picked pears. Medium bodied, it coats your tongue with pear and tropical fruit flavors (think honeydew melon and mango). Rich and long in the finish, its tremendous acidity and touch of minerality will leave you utterly fulfilled - and perhaps even running for your bathing suit! The Toh! is lovely on its own, but it was even better with my fish and roasted veggies. Truly, this is the white you just have to try.

What winter whites have you been escaping with these days?