Gavi / Cortese di Gavi DOCG: This is a very famous white wine from the Monferrato area, close to Alessandria. It is made exclusively with the Cortese grape and it has a still and a sparkling version.
Italian Region: Piemonte
Primary grapes: Cortese
Types of Wine Produced:
100% Cortese based White, Riserva, Spumante and Riserva Spumante Metodo Classico wines. All DOCG wines of Gavi di Gavi are 100% cortese, similar to the approach taken with most red and white wines of the Piemonte region.
Gavi di Gavi is the most famous of the white wine DOCG regions in Piemonte. Located in southeastern Piemonte near the Ligurian Alps where locals and tourists connect from the Ligurian coastal city of Geneva (Genoa) to the Piemonte region. The DOCG area surrounds the city of Gavi and is found in the corner of Alto Monferrato, near Alessandria. There is an interesting transition of terroir from the typical Piemonte landscape to a blend of alternating hills and valleys with the Ligurian Alps proving a beautiful backdrop. The soils are complex and diverse with the highest quality wines produced on chalky soils. These wines, along with similar wines of Gavi di Tessorola achieve a higher degree of finesse and flavor concentration with more aromatic intensity.
DOC approval was given in 1974 and elevated to DOCG status in 1998. Eleven subregions or communes cover approximately 1400 hectares dedicated to Cortese and Gavi wine.
Viticulture and Vinification
Viticulture was established in Piemonte dating back 2000 years. The first documentation of Gavi wines date back to 972 AD but those were likely red varietals and not the Cortese of today. By the 17th century, Cortese was the primary white varietal of the region, sharing land under vine with Dolcetto. After the phylloxera plague decimated vineyards around the world, many replanted the Dolcetto with Cortese and expanded the focus on white Gavi wines.
The climate is moderate in temperature and continental with rainfall limited to the winter months and relatively warm summers. Consistent winds provide good air circulation and reduce the risk of fungal diseases. Most vineyards are positioned on slopes of variable grade and range in sltitude from about 150 meters to upwards of 450 meters. Cool years can cause issues with adequate ripening of Cortese grapes and must adjustments are common in those vintages. The addition of concentrated grape must is allowed to balance the high acidity but the Rectified Concentrated Grape Must (RCGM) must use only Cortese grapes grown within the appellation.
Cortese can be quite vigorous and a balance of vigor and fruit development is key in normal years. Better winemakers find this balance and produce the best examples of Gavi with good body and balance. The best examples express flavors of lime and greengages and many of the wines undergo partial or full malolactic conversion to tame the acidity and achieve a slightly creamy mouthfeel.
Minimum alcohol levels are 10.5 % for white wines, 11% for Riserva. These limits apply to still and sparkling versions. Gavi DOCG wines must be 100% Cortese and Riserva wines must include only grapes from a single vineyard with at least a year of aging. Of that time, 6 months in the bottle is required.
Food pairing and tasting notes
Gavi is a typical, back-palate Italian white wine, displaying refreshing and crisp acidity, citrus notes of lemon, yellow apple and delicate floral aromas. The wines are typically dry and crisp and the use of oak is minimized or avoided all together. Oak influences can overwhelm the delicate flavors and aromas of Gavi wines. Gavi wines pair well with antipasti, fish and chicken meals.
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In the meantime, if you are in the mood for a good book, you can try:
– The Modern History of Italian Wine by Walter Filipputti
– Hidden Gems of Italy: An Insider’s Secret Formula To Find Top-Class Italian Wines At Value Prices And Taste La Dolce Vita by Tony Margiotta
Additionally, you can discover the other wines from Piedmont.