January 15, 2021 Comments (0) Views: 286 Good Wine Revolution, Try This

Try This Fancy Italian Chardonnay

Malcolm Jolley goes a little over budget for a white from the land of Barolo…

There’s always a little Chardonnay planted wherever they grow vines, or so it seems. Now it’s fashionable to herald indigenous grapes, especially in Italy, where over 400 varieties of local wine grapes have been identified. But, if I am ever in a region, or a trade show, tasting wine and find a bottle of fish out of the water bottle of Chardonnay, I will try it right away. It’s fun to see how the grape is expressed in all the different terroirs (including also, of course, in its home base of Burgundy). So it was when I spotted an allotment of Langhe Chardonnay made by the renown Barolo producer Renato Ratti, and although the Renato Ratti Brigata Langhe Chardonnay 2019 ($24.95 | LCBO# 17387) is a few dollars more than my usual $20 every day wine price point cut-off, it’s good enough and interesting enough to be worth a try.

The great white wine of Piedmont’s Langhe, the wine region surrounding the town of Alba that includes Barolo and Barbaresco, is Arneis. Nearly all the great houses of Barolo and Barberesco make an Arneis, often from Arneis’ prestigious home region, the neighbouring Roero DOCG. The style is almost always lean and crisp. Would, I wondered, the Ratti Chardonnay be made the same way? Yes it would, I confirmed on my first sip. No wood touches this wine, and if it went through a maloactic fermentation (the secondary process that can make Chardonnay seem buttery), I couldn’t tell as it shows mouth watering green apple acidity over a full fruit note of peach. I couldn’t find any reference to the wine on the Ratti website, but some online wine merchants described it, and one suggested it went through ‘refinement’ for ‘some months on its dregs’. I took that to mean it was left to rest on its lees, which gives it some weight and depth on the palate. Here is an elegant, yet racy white wine that serves well as an aperitif with snacks before dinner, perhaps a bagna cauda in homage to it’s origins. In any event, the Brigata Chardonnay is a fancy Friday night wine well worth a try.

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