One could get dizzy just reading the resumes of Mario and Anna Monticelli, the power couple behind Ilaria. They both have winemaking degrees from UC Davis and craft wines under several different labels in California. As if that's not enough, they also have partnership projects in four different regions of Italy and are raising three children.
Mario's father came from a wine making family in Italy. He immigrated to the US in the early 70s taking a job at Gallo. His son learned winemaking from the best. It is no secret that Gallo has the finest training program for wine in the world. Once you've worked for Gallo, you can work anywhere. Anna spent the last year of her wine education in France and ended up working at Cheval Blanc in St-Emilion, considered one of the greatest chateaux in Bordeaux. That experience is what enticed wineries like Bryant to make her an offer she couldn't refuse.
Though their winery is in Napa, this gem comes from Sonoma's Russian River, considered one of the finest areas for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the state. This beauty is no exception. The wine is fermented in French oak barrels and then aged in them for 16 months. Half of those barrels are new. Most Chardonnay's wouldn't benefit from this treatment, but when you have grapes of this magnitude, it all works. The plethora of aromas from passion fruit to guava and pear is nothing short of awe inspiring. Bold flavors like tomato sauce or Hollandaise would sing and dance with pleasure.