Gavi is a town and a white wine area in the south-east of Piedmont, in Italy’s north-west. The zone is where the plains and rolling hills of south Piedmont meet the mountains of the Ligurian Appenines. So the proximity of the mountains and the sea means cold winters and warm summers.
Cortese is the grape of all the wine from this region. It gives a bright, fresh acidity, so is made to be drunk young. In addition it shows delicate aromas of citrus and almond. Some wines also have floral notes.
Modern Gavi is a delight, with its breezy acidity and refreshing flavours.
It finds a perfect food pairing in trofie pasta and pesto alla Genovese. This sauce is neither runny like a tomato sauce, nor thick like that of Carbonara. Therefore the ‘twists’ of pasta captures the sauce in its thin folds. Meanwhile, the pasta itself is a delicious mix of delicacy (the thin bits at the end) and meatiness (the foldy bits in the middle).
The richer aromas in the wine play off the garlic in the sauce; meanwhile the acids act with the proteins of the parmesan and pine nuts. Finally, the delicate basil flavour finds its perfect partner in the dry, floral aromas of the wine.
Winemaking here dates to at least 972 AD, although, at that time, red grapes dominated. After phylloxera, growers planted Cortese ubiquitously. The DOC was awarded in 1974, but it wasn’t until 1998 that it received full DOCG credit. The reason for the hiatus was a temporary decline in quality in the 1980s, as growers tried to achieve higher yields.