In 1979, Lucio Tasca d'Almerita decided to measure himself with the most celebrated white grape variety in the world. So in the mid-80s, with cuttings coming from Burgundy, among other places, about 5 acres of Chardonnay were planted at the bottom of the San Francesco hill, with a predominantly south-west exposure about 500 metres above sea level. Like Cabernet Sauvignon, the variety was not recognized by specific guidelines at that time. In 1989, the first vintage of Chardonnay was vinified and marketed. The uniqueness of the '91 Botrytis Cinerea and the '92 Vendemmia Tardiva vintages will be long remembered.
One of the best-known white varieties, this grape of French origin has a long history in northern Italy, but until recently was not much planted in the south. Clusters are fairly small, cylindrical and winged. The round, smallish berries are thick-skinned and golden yellow in colour. It's a tremendously aristocratic grape, unanimously considered among the most refined of the white varieties. Unlike most other 'noble' grapes, it combines its notable sensory qualities with robust health and relative ease of cultivation: it's resistant to cold, but makes itself at home in hot climates too. It flowers and matures early, thus avoiding the threat of diseases linked to cold and autumn humidity.