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A Chardonnay from off the beaten path

Bollini’s ’04 “Barricato 40” Chardonnay from Italy is a good value and a nice change.

Remember when American chardonnay was the white wine? When that rich, oak-laden California style was all the rage? Well, chardonnay hasn’t exactly been deposed as the world’s most popular white, even though many wine lovers have moved on from that buttery new-world style, or given up on chardonnay altogether.

But such drastic steps aren’t always necessary when one gets tired of a certain wine or a particular style. Among the options: moving to a new country. Try a chardonnay from, say, Italy, which is just what I did the other night with pleasing results.

The wine was an unsolicited review copy of Bollini’s 2004 "Barricato 40" Chardonnay, a label that has been around for some years and that comes with a highly palatable suggested price of $11.

Empson Selections

This is a good wine for everyday drinking — from a glass before dinner to a versatile partner for any number of quick meals — chicken or turkey pot pies, let’s say, broiled salmon if you prefer white with this fish (lighter reds like pinot noir and gamay go nicely as well), or richer shellfish like lobster and scallops.

When first poured, Bollini’s chardonnay is snappy and refreshing with unusual herbal notes mixed in with apple and pear. Some spice, minerals and a little vanilla are also present, all of which give the wine good complexity for this price. Nothing screams out or dominates, which is what makes the wine attractive.

It comes from the Trentino zone of the Trentino-Alto Adige region of northeast Italy, a cool-climate area known more for pinot grigio and other aromatic whites than chardonnay, but this one demonstrates how chardonnay can also do well here.

The Bollini line was created in 1979 by Neil and Maria Empson, Milan-based exporters who were the first to bring Italian chardonnay to the United States. Barricato 40, by the way, refers to the fact that 40 percent of the wine is fermented in small barrels, which gives the wine a presence of oak without overpowering it.

Edward Deitch's wine column appears Wednesdays. He welcomes comments from readers. Write to him at EdwardDeitch