As Italy’s fine wine capital, Piedmont is a region brimming with indigenous grape varieties and original flavours. One of the most exciting is Cortese, the grape that provides the raw material for the perfumed dry whites of Gavi.
From Piedmont to the world
Gavi was awarded DOCG status in 1998, giving due recognition to the high quality of the output of its vineyards, situated in the province of Alessandria, close to the Ligurian border. Today a surfeit of talented winemakers produce white wines highly valued against international counterparts. There is a vivacity, raciness, and depth to Gavi that cannot be replicated elsewhere or with any other grape variety.
Following a successful campaign led by the Consorzio Tutela del Gavi, UK consumers are increasingly familiar with the delicious whites of the appellation. The style is now widely distributed, with listings in top restaurants, independent merchants, and supermarkets. Yet the Consorzio’s momentum shows no sign of abating: a series of events – namely masterclasses and walk-around tastings – will take place in 2023. Among the scheduled activities is a masterclass at the London Wine Fair (15th May).
These are key components in the Gavi World Tour, an outreach programme designed to educate and engage with trade professionals and consumers across the globe. When 85% of the total Gavi DOCG production is sent abroad, international markets are a major priority for this regional brand with a global vocation.
Character and diversity
But the vital question is: what does Gavi taste like? There is more than a hint of saline, maritime breeze in the fresh and crisp style of young Gavi. A chilled glass offers a mouthful of citrus, melon, and apricot – a very food friendly wine. Moreover, the Cortese grape holds its acidity well, even in warmer years, a characteristic that has not only shaped the appeal of Gavi until now but also makes it a variety particularly suited for the future, against the backdrop of climate change.
Inevitably, a great deal of Gavi is consumed fairly young; often a year or two after the harvest. And yet, the appellation offers a broad portfolio of interpretations, ranging from unoaked wines to cuvées matured in wood, concrete, or amphorae – with incredible, and often overlooked, ageing potential. A touch of skin contact is also explored by certain wineries, expanding texture and structure. These wines will improve in bottle for over a decade, gaining depth and complexity as they mature. Cortese’s bright acidity, meanwhile, ensures that Gavi’s signature freshness does not diminish, simply morphs, with age.
Of course, the region’s heterogeneous terroir is the most vital factor in the quality and diversity equation. There are approximately 1,600 hectares planted today, flanking Gavi and other 10 communes around this pretty town. Soils vary from limestone to mineral-rich alluvial clay deposits, mixed in with gravel and flint. Gravel terroir yields some of the most concentrated expressions of Cortese: rich and mouth-filling .
Once a lesser known part of Piedmont, the hills of Gavi have become the poster child for Italy’s white wine revolution. It offers a wine style for every culinary occasion and context, with an added dose of very Italian flair!
Discover more about the Gavi DOCG – The great white wine of Piedmont
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