Chardonnay is the most popular white wine grape grown throughout the world. The most prized Chardonnay growing regions are Burgundy, Champagne and California. The Chardonnays of Burgundy tend to produce dry, elegant wines with vibrant acidity and minerality; little or no oak is imparted into the wine for these "Old World" beauties and allows the essence of the Chardonnay grape to reveal itself. On the other hand, the New World Chardonnay producers of California (Oregon, South Africa, Argentina and New Zealand as well) tend to use new oak. These wines are often described as being "buttery" given their oak influence. Some Italian Chardonnays fall somewhere in between Old and New World. They too tend to be quite expressive and retain some of the best qualities of both Old and New World Chardonnays.
Chardonnay's weight and texture can be very different depending on the terroir and amount of oak used. Sometimes the oak is new and sometimes, in the case of Burgundy, the oak is used. If oak casks have been used, they impart less of an influence on the Chardonnay grapes. These wines tend to have mild oak notes in the wine and can often represent itself as roasted nut flavors. Yet no matter where Chardonnay is grown, there are some common threads that reveal themselves: apple, pear, honey, lemon and butterscotch.
The Fine Wines Of Italy: Italy is the world's largest producer of wine. Throughout Italy's long history, fine Italian wine and food have been integral to its culture. As a result, Italy has numerous indigenous varietals that are grown specifically to compliment foods from its particular regions. The most well known Italian wine regions are Piedmont, Tuscany and Veneto. In Piedmont, the age worthy noble red varietal Nebbiolo is king, while in Tuscany, Sangiovese is the prominent red varietal. In the Veneto, Corvina and Molinara are the primary planted red varietals. Italy has many indigenous and widely planted white varietals such as Venmentino, Falanghina, Tocai Fruliano, Arneis and Cortese, but Pinot Grigio is by far the most well known. Other notable Italian wines come from Sardinia, Umbria, Campania, and Sicily. Fine Italian wines are made by many great producers, however, we are quite fond of the following wines of Italy: Antinori, Bruno Giacosa, Paolo Scavino, Gaja, Castello Banfi, La Spinetta, Luigi Pira, Alesino, Siro Pacenti, Ciacci Piccolomini, Giacomo Borgogno & Figil, Tenuta San Guido and many other Italian wines.
In northern Italy, Piedmont is home to a number of grape varietals. Among them is the "noble grape" Nebbiolo. Grown in several sub-regions, the most popular Nebbiolos hail from Barolo, Barbaresco, Langhe, Gattinara and Nebbiolo d'Alba.
Barolos and Barbarescos boast delicious notes of cherry, rose petal and spice and thus often called the Burgundies of Italy. Ageworthy, these wines typically have well balanced structure that allows them to evolve for decades. Between them, Barolos are often characterized as king and Barbaresco as queen, with the latter often displaying a bit softer and more femanine interpreation of the grape - but ageworthy just the same.
In addition to Nebbiolo, Piedmont is known for more fruit forward varietals, such Barbera and Dolcetto, which display dark berry and plum flavors. And, though predominently known for red wine, Piedmont is home to delicious whites such as Gavi (Cortese), Arneis and Chardonnay.