Just as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the signature red wine of Italy’s Abruzzo region, is still under the radar as a top Italian appellation, so, too, are the white wines, including Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Abruzzo Pecorino.

This became clear to me as I visited some of Abruzzo’s leading wineries and sampled dozens of reds, whites, and rosés last month at the invitation of the Abruzzo Wine Consortium.

You can read my recent overview of Abruzzo and appraisal of the red wines here. Beyond the reds (and the whites), one of the revelations was the depth and quality of the rosés, which are called Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. They are made from the red Montepulciano grape, are deeply colored, and are richer than the light rosés from Provence and many other regions. They are also phenomenal food wines. Little known in this country, they are worth seeking out.

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As for the white wines, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Abruzzo Pecorino are the two main DOCs, and for me, they are equally interesting, though some consider Trebbiano (known as Ugni Blanc in France) to be the more important grape, and it is far more widely planted.

“Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is usually considered a cheap variety,” Chiara Ciavolich, who owns the Ciavolich winery in Pescara, one of four Abruzzo wine regions, explains while standing in one of her vineyards. But the perception is changing, she says, “people are understanding that there is a difference in Trebbiano because it’s not always the same clone.”

Indeed, the grape is used to churn out oceans of “industrial” wine, as Ciavolich described it, drawing a distinction between newer, commercially available clones and those found in older, “historical vineyards” like hers. “This makes a difference in the production of an artisanal wine,” she says. The better examples are more vivid, with greater complexity that goes beyond simple, inoffensive “wash-down” Trebbianos.

While Trebbiano is marked by floral and citrus qualities, I find that Pecorino in general has a more fruit-forward character along with herb and floral notes. You may be more familiar with the Italian Pecorino cheese made from sheep’s milk, but other than the name — it refers to “sheep” — the wine and the cheese have no relation except perhaps that sheep may have grazed near the vineyards at one time. The grape has seen a renaissance in recent decades, especially in Abruzzo and the neighboring Marche region.

Abruzzo’s vineyards lie in the 10 to 20 miles or so between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine Mountains, benefiting from the cooling breezes produced by both. That, along with wide shifts in temperatures from day to night, results in wines that are fresh and elegant with good balancing acidity.

But, like so many winemakers these days, Fausto Albanese is dealing with the uncertainties brought on by climate change as he manages his Torre dei Beati winery, whose 52 acres of certified organic vineyards lie in the prestigious Loreto Aprutino subzone of Pescara province. “I remember in 2015,” he says, “we started [harvesting] Pecorino on Aug. 26. A year later, we started exactly one month later. … That’s incredible. Nothing is normal.”

Here are six Abruzzo white wines to try:

Masciarelli Villa Gemma Bianco Colline Teatine IGT 2021

Masciarelli Villa Gemma Bianco Colline Teatine IGT 2021 is one of the best white wines from Abruzzo.

Villa Gemma is the name of the top wines of this seminal Abruzzo producer, whose Villa Gemma Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva is among the region’s outstanding reds. In the Bianco, Masciarelli blends Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Pecorino, and Cococciola, a variety grown only in Abruzzo and northern Puglia. It’s quite austere with subtle notes of apricot, lime, and pineapple and touches of white pepper, mint, and saline. Like many Abruzzo whites, it has a chalky, mineral finish that reminded me of Chablis from Burgundy.

Price: $21
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Ciavolich Trebbiano d’Abruzzo “Fosso Cancelli” 2019

Ciavolich Trebbiano d’Abruzzo “Fosso Cancelli” 2019 is one of the best white wines from Abruzzo.

From vines planted more than half a century ago (the oldest on this superb estate), this is Trebbiano at its best — both rich and delicate with deep lemon, apple, white peach, and honeysuckle notes and perfectly balanced acidity. The wine is fermented and aged in a combination of terracotta amphorae, Slavonian oak barrels, and steel vats, resting on its lees for a year before bottling. It’s subtle and delicious. “Trebbiano is shy,” says owner Chiara Ciavolich.

Price: $43
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Tenuta De Sterlich Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2021

Tenuta De Sterlich Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2021 is one of the best white wines from Abruzzo.

From a biodynamic producer, this wine displays a gorgeous combination of fruit, floral, and mineral notes. White peach, apricot, lemon-lime, and herb flavors are framed by a lingering, mineral finish. The U.S. importer notes a “crunchy” quality in De Sterlich’s wines, and this texture may come from aging in concrete, as are all of De Sterlich’s offerings, including stellar examples of Abruzzo Pecorino and a Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo.

Price: $32
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Cataldi Madonna “Giulia” Pecorino Terre Aquilane IGT 2022

Cataldi Madonna “Giulia” Pecorino Terre Aquilane IGT 2022 is one of the best white wines from Abruzzo.

This crisp, fruit-forward wine from organically grown grapes shows green apple, yellow peach, and lemon-lime notes along with touches of baking spices and cream on the finish. Straightforward but delicious, this wine is from L’Aquila province, a large, mountainous region in the western half of Abruzzo that has fewer wineries than other Abruzzo wine areas.

Price: $23
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Torre Zambra Pecorino “Poggio Salaia” Terre di Chieti IGT 2021

Torre Zambra Pecorino “Poggio Salaia” Terre di Chieti IGT 2021 is one of the best white wines from Abruzzo.

Green apple, apricot, orange, and lime notes define this refreshing, under-$20 wine with hints of vanilla and herbs. Made from organic grapes, the wine is aged on the lees in stainless steel. Torre Zambra is owned by the Cerchio family, which also has properties in Puglia and Sicily.

Price: $19
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Torre dei Beati Abruzzo Pecorino “Giocheremo con i Fiori” 2021

Torre dei Beati Abruzzo Pecorino “Giocheremo con i Fiori” 2021 is one of the best white wines from Abruzzo.

The key to this stunning wine — and all of Abruzzo’s whites — is not to serve them too cold to allow the aromas and flavors to emerge. As they do in this one, lavender and honeysuckle emerge on the nose, followed by pear and green apple skins on the palate, with white pepper and eucalyptus hints. A lovely wine that, like most Pecorinos and Trebbianos, comes into its own with fish, shellfish, and white meat dishes.

Price: $23
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Next up: Muscadets from France’s Loire Valley