Gavi – a Great Spring & Summer White Wine
White wines from Italy are very often over-looked by the wine geeks, mostly because of the mass-produced, insipid versions of Pinot Grigio that appears on most low-end Italian restaurants.
HOWEVER…what we found over the years is that Italy produces wonderful white wines, if you are willing to experiment a bit – with many quality wines under $20 per bottle.
We saw a great article by one of favorite wine writers, Lettie Teague, in the 4/11/15 issue of the Wall Street Journal. Ms. Teague talks about her early love affair with Gavi – a popular wine from the Piedmont region. In her words, “Gavi offered a more stylish alternative to other Italian whites such as Frascati and Orvieto, was almost as popular as Pinot Grigio (in the ’90’s) and it was just as easy to say (“Gah-vee”). But perhaps more important, it was the favorite wine of my boyfriend back then. (Love stories of wine often begin with love stories of a different kind.)”
We have always loved Gavi, since our first trip to Italy in the ’80’s. Gavi is a DOCG wine made from Cortese, which is found predominately in the province of Alessandria near the Ligurian boarder. The best Gavi wines are made in a dry style and are known for their lemon-like citrus flavors and tingly acidity, showing some notes of stone fruit. Since it is a light-bodied wine, it is an easy drinking wine on its own to start the evening. We particularly like to match Gavi with fresh, bright salads (especially with some citrus), as well as with crudo or ceviche.
Our Four Favorite Gavi Wines to Try Now
These wines are easy to find, and are all in the bargain category (under $20). There are many others you might find – so experiment, and let us know what you like.
La Zerba: 2013 Gavi
We’ve come across this wine several times, and have always felt it has great value, and very food friendly. The wine shows a pale yellow color, light in alcohol, and a delicate and quite elegant bouquet with a pleasing floral scent mingled with honeydew melon. Round on the palate, a nice body and a good balance between acidity and the ripe fruits. The finish is long, clean and persistent. You might find multipleversions, with the ‘Terrarossa’ cuvée sourced from a plot of 30 year-old vines being the most expensive at about $30. Mostly, we’ve seen the regular version for about $15.
Marchesi di Barolo Gavi 2011
Marchesi di Barolo makes some outstanding wines – and their Gavi has always been one of our favorites. There is so much interesting fruit aromas and flavors from this light-to-medium bodied wine: apple and peach, with a bit of grapefruit. You’ll get some floral tones, along with almond flavors – especially on the lively finish. The flavor is remarkably balanced for a wine priced at about $15, with enough flavor and acidity to work well as either an aperitif or along with food: a classic wines for fish, seafood and light appetizers in general.
Il Poggio di Gavi 2013
“Francesca Poggio is passionate about Gavi, and this intensely flavored wine made entirely from the Cortese grape offers justification for that affection. A fairly full-bodied wine with a long, mineral finish, this is a first-class Gavi and a fine spring-into-summer drink.” (L. Teague, WSJ 4/11/15). About $20.
Pio Cesare Cortese di Gavi
“This top Barolo producer also turns out a crisp, citrus-inflected Gavi from select hillside vineyards. It’s a lively and delicious white perfect for a warm spring night.” (L. Teague, Wall Street Journal 4/11/15). We particularly like the prominent apple and melon flavors with a hint of almond. The flavor is complex, and has a crisp finish. The price is about $18.