CHARDONNAY. 1983 – VALENTI
by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | November 1984
The first time I had an Italian Chardonnay was about three years ago. It was at the Food and Wine Show in San Francisco. A huge delegation of Italian vintners were showing their wines to the trade. Offering a wine labeled Chardonnay was a departure from traditional Italian nomenclature. The few that showed me a Chardonnay, quickly added that it was 10096 from the Chardonnay grape and not a blend. (This 100% phenomenon has become an American fetish it seems. It has had an impact on vintners worldwide.) Well, those few wines at the time, were strange. They did have a semblance of the varietal character, but other elements of taste were objectionable.
I have had several Italian Chardonnay offerings since, and they have progressively improved. They have come closer to the styles we are accustomed to, or prepared to accept. This Valenti Chardonnay was the first one I could get excited about. It is a negociant type wine for the American market. The Valenti label is a trademark brand owned by the Verchesi family of Lombardy. They are an old line wine making family in a 200 year old estate and castle they purchased from Napoleon! A nephew of the family, Philip Thompson, is the U.S. importer and marketer of their wines. His uncle Gianmaria, wine-maker at the family estate, selected this chardonnay. It was grown in the Langhe district of Piedmont region, and vinified locally. What happened here is the standard negociant procedure of purchasing the wine in bulk, having it bottled, and labeling it under their brand Hale.
I think Gianmaria’s interpretation of how a chardonnay could taste like is on target. There are no presumptions here to greatness or pedigree. (as James Thurber would say!) This grape of French origin has adapted itself well to the Italian vineyards. It is being slowly incorporated in experiments of 100% varietal or blended wines The models used might be the Macon or Pouiliy chardonnays of France, or some of the California central coast types. Typically these are dry, fruity and vigorous, with very recognizable varietal character. The chardonnay grape is starting to play an even more significant part in Italy. The plantings have been used extensively for sparkling wine production. New, very good, dry sparkling wines from Italy are appearing on the market. The traditional French “methode Champenoise” production technics and the same grapes are being utilized. Interesting things are happening in the wine world!
Our wine is light golden yellow in color. It has a fruity, fresh aroma. Green apples come through sharp and clear. Very clean nose. The taste is dry and crisp with acid. It has medium body, with very good varietal flavor of the grape. Hardly any wood is apparent. Lots of depth to the flavor. Some trace of greenness but rather complementary to the overall. Serve chilled with seafood or poultry. Use with white sauces.
Cellaring Notes: Best for drinking now and through the next 12 months.