The chardonnay backlash has barely affected Italian versions of every sommelier’s least favorite grape because so few people know that Italy even produces the grape. Based on my current blind tastings, this well-kept secret most definitely needs to be told: From Alto Adige to Piemonte and from Toscana to Umbria, there is delicious chardonnay available in a variety of styles. While most favor classic European understatement, there are many that will satisfy your taste for toast as well as any California expression. The following are standouts.
Castello della Sala “Bramito del Cervo,” Umbria IGT
Produced by the venerable house of Antinori, this wine was ahead of the curve with its first production in 1994. It’s all smoothness and roundness on the palate, with ripe apple and fig-like fruit and a creamy texture. Featuring subtle notes of buttered popcorn and a mild-but-lingering finish, it would be ideal with a white-sauce pasta.
$20, V. Cirace & Son, Boston
Cabreo “La Pietra” Chardonnay, Toscana IGT, 2013
This wine’s lineage dates back to the 1980s, and its aromatics feature almond, apple, pear skin and vanilla. Clean, ripe and fresh, with tuned-up acids and a minerally lemon-peel edge, this is a beautifully balanced chardonnay that’s versatile enough for broiled lobster or more delicate white fish fillets.
$42, Marty’s Fine Wines, Newton
Isole e Olena “Collezione Privata” Chardonnay, Toscana IGT, 2014
This great chianti producer’s chardonnay is a dead ringer for white burgundy. This vintage features a lavish velvety texture, with elegant notes of baking spices and fresh apples. Crisp, but with hints of cream and toasted herbs, it would make a great partner for an opulently flavored seafood stew.
$36, Colonial Spirits, Acton
Sandy Block is a master of wine and the vice president of beverage operations for Legal Sea Foods.