Sommelier: Alois Lageder Chardonnay

Unlike any other country in the world, Italy cultivates grapes almost anywhere, from the Alps at the northern cuff down to the southern tip of the boot’s toe. Just below the mountains between Innsbruck, Austria, and Verona is the Alto Adige wine region, which produces Italian Chardonnay with a German accent. And my pick is one of Italy’s best expressions of this thick-skinned grape—the Alois Lageder Chardonnay Alto Adige. Chilled to 40 degrees, your first sip of this medium-bodied white brings to mind a near-glacial pool high in the Austrian Alps. It’s an unexpected cross between the oak-naked Burgundy style and the buttered oak Sonoma style. With a hint of tart green apple, tropical fruit and Alpine spice, every sip brings the expectation of a sparkle. Alois Lageder Chardonnay is affectionately called “the Gator” at Nino’s Italian Restaurant, where BTG or BTB it pairs perfectly with the winter salad and handmade pastas. Or round the corner to Martin’s Wine Cellar and pick up a bottle of this almost naked Chardonnay for about $14.