Weekend Wine: White Wines of Northeastern Italy

Don't sleep on this affordable biodynamic Chardonnay

Some of the world’s greatest white wines come from the northeast corner of Italy in the areas of Alto Adige and Friuli. Making the whole process a little easier for American audiences is the fact that this is one of the few areas in Europe where wine is named after the grape instead of the location.

So you will see things like Sauvignon or Friulano on the bottle along with the producer.

Lageder vineyards (Photo Courtesy of the Winery)

Like most areas, many of their best wineries are obscure and not well known, but several of the more widely distributed wines are so good that I doubt you would notice the difference. Favorites include Marco Felluga, Russia Superiore, Terlano, Tiefenbrunner, Venica, and the subject of this week’s wine, Alois Lageder.

Normally I would recommend indigenous grapes like Friulano, Ribolla Giala, or Malvasia, and many of them are magnificent world-class wines selling for far less than even Texas or Oregon wines. Either that or my vote for the very finest Sauvignon (their name for Sauvignon Blanc) wines on earth. But many of their wines have a striking aroma and I was looking for something a little more restrained.

I recently had a chance to taste Alois Lageder’s Chardonnay Alto Adige DOC ($16). This is an astonishing price for the quality of the wine, especially given the fact that the vast majority of their grapes are from biodynamic vineyards. Don’t expect a California style Chardonnay. Instead, it is more like a classic Chablis but with the added complexity of the hazelnut and honey aromas that derive from the biodynamic farming.

We had it with classic linguine and clams and on another occasion with a pasta with a corn and Porcini mushroom sauce. In both cases, the wine went from a nice quaffer before dinner to a stunner of a food accompaniment, so take my recommendation and save it for the dinner table and enjoy a nice bubbly while cooking.

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Alto Adige, Friuli, Sauvignon, Friulano, Alois Lageder, Venica, Marco Felluga, Russia Superiore, Terlano, Tiefenbrunner, Ribolla Giala, Malvasia, lois Lageder’s Chardonnay Alto Adige DOC, Chablis, Biodynamic


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