The Scaia garganega chardonnay is an Italian white blend that pairs the unlikeliest of grapes to produce a terrific wine
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There’s no better way to describe how terrific the current vintage is of the Scaia Garganega Chardonnay ($12, sample, 12.5%). This Italian white blend is made with two of the unlikeliest grapes possible – garganega, a grape usually used to make tanker trucks of barely drinkable Soave, and chardonnay, hardly the most Italian of grapes.
And it works in this, the 2018. Somehow, the Scaia garganega chardonnay tastes better than the sum of its parts. Look for a bit of citrus (lime?), but not as tart as previous years, and some pineapple from the chardonnay that softens the garganega. The wine smells fresh and flowery, and the finish is clean and crisp and a bit stony. Somehow, there aren’t the off notes typical of poorly-made Italian chardonnay. Even more surprising, there is none of the cheap, almost tinny quality too often found in poorly-made Soave.
Chill this, and drink it on its own or with anything that isn’t red meat. It’s also worth noting that the 2018 is difficult to find; my local retailer still has cases of the 2017. (A tip o’ the Curmudgeon’s fedora to Katherine Jarvis at Jarvis Communications, who found a sample for me). But not to worry if you can’t find the 2018. The 2017 is still delicious, and the Scaia garganega chardonnay ages better than a $10 wine should, getting softer and more interesting.
The Scaia garganega chardonnay is an Italian white wine blend that shows how great cheap wine can be
The idea that we’re only supposed to drink chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot bores me past any adjective I can think of. There are literally tens of thousands of wines in the world; why do our betters in the Winestream Media limit us to the same wines made from the same half dozen or so grapes?
Which is just one reason why I like the Scaia ($10, purchased, 12.5%), an Italian white blend made with chardonnay and garganega, the grape used to make lots of cheap and indifferent Soave. This is hardly a combination the marketing department would think of – Italian chardonnay, at best, is passable and mostly irrelevant, while garganega doesn’t get much respect, even in Italy.
But in the Scaia, they’re like two of the best ballet dancers in the world working with an even better choreographer. The grapes compensate for each other’s shortcomings, so that fruitiness of the chardonnay (green apple, pear?) offsets the tartness of the garganega, while the latter’s minerality and lemon fruit fills in the holes in the chardonnay.
Highly recommended – an example of what great cheap wine can be when the producer cares about quality and value. Drink this chilled with any white wine dish and specially grilled seafood. And don’t be surprised to see it in the 2018 $10 Hall of Fame.