The Gavi, or Cortese di Gavi, DOCG is situated in the southern part of Piedmont, in north-western Italy. It was Italy's first white wine to gain international repute and is still considered...Read More
Gavi wines. While Italy’s picturesque Piedmont region may best be known as the birthplace of prestigious red wines like Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera d’Asti, the sunny hillsides in the south are home to one of the most prized Italian whites: Cortese di Gavi (or Gavi, for short). Here, cooling influences of the Alps and Mediterranean Sea moderate otherwise warm temperatures, providing the ideal growing conditions for the region’s native Cortese variety.
The crisp, bone-dry and mouthwatering white wines of Gavi offer a resplendent bouquet of white flowers, citrus and peach on the nose, followed by elegant touches of bitter almond on the finish. On the palate, they are beautifully balanced and surprisingly rich in texture, with a snappy natural acidity and flinty minerality that lend these wines to a wide range of food pairings, including fresh seafood spritzed with lemon juice or a classic spaghetti with fragrant basil pesto.
Located in the southern area of the Piedmont wine region in the northwest of Italy, the Gavi DOCG (also referred to as the Cortese di Gavi DOCG) is one of the most unique white wine appellations of the country. This wine is produced within the Province of Alessandria in the Montferrat area, near the border between Piedmont and Liguria, and the style is actually quite similar to that of Ligurian wine. The production zone of Gavi is spread over the hills of the 11 communes in the Alessandria province, which include Gavi, Aquata Scrivia, Serravalle Scrivia and Novi Ligure. White wines produced with Cortese grapes grown within the specific commune of Gavi, around the village of Gavi, are labeled Gavi di Gavi.
The Gavi DOC appellation was created in 1974 and then later elevated to the DOCG level in 1998.
The Gavi appellation can be found in the Piedmont wine region, most famous for its Barolo and Barbaresco wines made with the native Nebbiolo red wine variety. Situated in the south of Piedmont, the climate here is quite warm with plenty of sunshine. Nevertheless, the vineyard enjoy the cooling influences from the Alps mountains as well as from the Mediterranean Sea nearby. These influences come together to give this winegrowing area great diurnals (a large variation in temperature between nighttime and daytime), which helps concentrate the flavors of the grapes grown here, while also allowing them to maintain a crisp acidity.
The wines of Gavi are made with exclusively with the Cortese white grape variety, indigenous to this region. Out of around 7,300 acres of Cortese planted in Italy, around 90% is grown in the Piedmont region, including in the appellation of Gavi. This grape has quite a long history, with first mentions daring back to the early 17th century.
The success of Gavi is due to the natural characteristics of the Cortese grape, which has the rare capacity to retain its natural acidity and freshness, even in the warmest climates. Nevertheless, this is a naturally vigorous and highly productive variety, which means that yields must be strictly limited to concentrate flavor. While the warm climate of the Gavi appellation allows Cortese to fully ripen, this grape can struggle to ripen in other parts of the Piedmont region, resulting in excessive acidity, which can be mitigated by malolactic fermentation.
In Gavi, Cortese is generally vinified and aged in stainless steel, though some producers have chosen barrel maturation for a fuller, rounder style. Also, while most Gavi DOCG wines are produced as dry still wines, the appellation regulations do allow for the sparkling spumante and metodo classico styles as well.
The Cortese grape is also highly esteemed for its ability to express its terroir of origin in the glass. When produced in the Gavi appellation, this grape reveals a bone-dry character and a very crisp, flinty and refreshing acidity, a brilliant expression of its mineral-rich soils.
The wines of Gavi are some of the most highly sought-after Italian white wines, known for their crisp, bone-dry and particularly floral character as well as their flinty minerality. Despite their high acidity, these wines show great balance on the palate, as well as a rich texture and great depth on the finish. In the glass, they display a light straw-yellow color with some green reflections. Aromas typically found in the bouquet of these wines include fresh honeysuckle and other white flowers, lemons, peaches, pears, honeydew and hints of fresh almonds on the finish.
While most Gavi wine is best enjoyed young, some producers have recently focused on producing a more complex, structured and age-worthy style, which can be kept for three or four years in the cellar. As with most white wines, they are best enjoyed chilled to around 6 °C or 43 °F.
The high natural acidity of the Cortese grape makes Gavi one of the best white wines for food pairing. We suggest pairing them with traditional Italian antipasti, olives and cheeses, especially Italian cheeses like Taleggio or Robiola di Roccaverano. The notes of bright, fresh citrus in these wines will also lend themselves perfectly with seafood (cockles, whelks, langoustines, scampi) or lemon-scented white fish dishes. A classic regional food pairing is Gavi wine with herby pasta dishes, like a traditional Ligurian green pesto pasta.
Some of the best producers of Gavi include Villa Sparina, Pio Cesare and La Scolca. These are ideal wines for the summertime, but they also work beautifully as an aperitif throughout the year.