Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gavi: An Overview

It had been almost ten years since I last tasted systematically through Gavi, so when Carlo Macchi asked me, in the course of this spring's Bolgheri presentation, if I wanted to taste Gavi with him in July, I replied with an enthusiastic yes.

And what is Gavi? A white wine made from the Cortese grape, which is often referred to as Piemonte's white analog to Nebbiolo in wine books (especially the older ones).

Its repute is not surprising, as one might expect from looking at a history book: The Gavi region is now part of Piemonte (province of Alessandria), but historically was known as the Oltregiogo Ligure (literally, Liguria beyond the pass), and is where the Genovese nobility built their summer palaces. People who can afford to build beautiful villas usually like to eat well too, and in the days before easy overland transport this meant going local for all but the most refined and easy to carry delicacies. Wine for daily consumption does not fall into this category, and hence they began to plant vineyards; the first mention of viticulture occurs in documents dating to 1072, when the Bishop of Genova rented chestnut stands and vineyards in the town of Meirana, which is now home to Broglia, to two residents of Gavi.

According to Maurizio Fava, who wrote Le Vie del Gavi, Slowfood's travel guide to Gavi, these vineyards were likely planted with red grapes. The first mention of Cortese dates to 1659. The grape is mentioned frequently in subsequent records and became widespread; in the 1850s the great French enologist Luis Oddard, who was hired by Count Camillo Cavour to work with Barolo, began using Cortese to make sparkling wines (it's still widely used by Italian spumante producers). In 1876 Marquis Cambiaso began intensive cultivation of Cortese in the La Cinturiona and Toledana estates. Nearby landowners hastened to follow his example, and more vineyards were replanted with Cortese following the phylloxera outbreaks a century ago, to meet the growing demand from Liguria. At the turn of the last century, Gavi was a wine on the move.

But where was it going? Alas, mostly the wrong way; some estates, notably La Scolca, began thinking in terms of quality early on, but many others decided to ride their coat tails, as it were, making light, simple wines that could be produced in quantity, and counting on name recognition to help sales. This is certainly the tack taken by the wine merchants who bottled the vast majority of the Gavi production. The introduction of the Gavi DOC in 1974 didn't change things much; the merchants continued to predominate, and much of what they sold was bottled outside the region, and this merits a quick aside.

Though it's obvious that bottling outside the region of origin is not optimal -- putting a wine in a tank and transporting it provides the dishonest with many opportunities to doctor the wine -- this bottling did move the wine, and I was told by more than one person that the sales generated by the practice helped keep people -- grape growers and winemakers who did not bottle, especially -- afloat in hard times.

Returning to our narrative, with the establishment of the DOC things did begin to change on the home front, as the younger generation took over from their parents, and many decided to bottle themselves rather than sell grapes or wine to the merchants. At the same time outsiders began to buy into the area, much the way they have in Chianti.

The establishment of the Gavi DOCG in the summer of 1998 was a major step forward in the battle for quality; the regulations specifically state that all Gavi has to be bottled within the Gavi production zone. This means people can no longer drive tanks of the wine elsewhere (e.g. up to Germany) and bottle it as Gavi. And, because every bottle of Gavi must now have a numbered fascetta (the light green DOCG strip), people can no longer run up the production as they once did -- a hectare of vineyard can produce 95 quintals of grapes, with a maximum yield of 70%, which translates into 66.5 hectoliters, or 8,844 bottles (1 hectoliter = 133 750-ml bottles). No more.

The vineyards, you wonder? They must be located within the Gavi production zone, which includes all or part of 11 townships located around Gavi, and must be planted with Cortese -- there was talk of allowing the use of small percentages of other varietals, for example Chardonnay, but in the end they decided not to. Fermentation is typically in steel, though it's not a requirement -- the regulations simply state that fermentation must take place within the production zone.

A few wineries are fermenting in wood, and others lightly barrique their wines after fermentation; my personal impression is that it takes a deft touch to avoid overloading the wine with oak. The alcohol percentage has to be at least 10.5%, which makes for the classic old-style light spritzy Gavi. Most of the better Gavis I tasted are stronger, 12 or more percent alcohol.

Sale generally begins late in the spring following the harvest, and this is too soon: When I last tasted through Gavi, I tasted many of the wines twice, once at Vinitaly when they were freshly bottled, and again in Gavi in the fall, and the increase in complexity was often dramatic. The producers are of course well aware of this, but Italian consumers, restaurateurs especially, insist on getting it as soon as possible. Therefore the wine goes out early, and you should grab it while it's available. When you should open your Gavi is another matter. Unless you have selected something quite light, in late fall at the earliest.

None of what I tasted was the least bit tired. And you may want to wait; Gavi can age remarkably well, gaining considerable complexity on the nose while a maintaining a pleasing lightness on the palate.

In terms of general flavor impressions, Gavi tends to be on the crisp side, ranging from decidedly tart to round with citrus overtones; with respect to 10 years ago many of the wines I tasted this time were harvested later, with riper grapes, and as a result were softer and smoother. Soft and smooth in a relative way; Cortese has considerable backbone and character even when quite ripe. And there is the personal preference of the winemaker too; some people prefer to work with the older style, producing more acidic, more mineral, and less fruity wines, and if that's your preference, you will find it. But you will also find smoother, softer, more approachable Gavi, and even Gavi whose grapes ripened to the point that the acidity dropped considerably. My personal preference tends towards the crisper end of the spectrum.

In terms of food-wine parings, though some Gavi will work as an aperitif many are food wines that will give their best at table. Fish obviously comes to mind, as does Ligurian vegetarian cuisine, ravioli and such with vegetable/cheese stuffings, and pesto sauce. Gavi will also go well with omelets and frittate, and some of the sweeter Gavis will work nicely with cheeses, while the fuller ones will go well with white meats. So it's a versatile wine.

A word on labels: if you read a number, you may come to the conclusion that all Gavi is not created equal -- there is Gavi di Gavi and then there's the rest. Not true; the Gavi di Gavi estates are simply located within the township of Gavi. The best terroir in the region is considered to be a hill called Rovereto, which does give excellent results. But there are equally interesting wines made elsewhere within the region. And finally, a general word about terroir: Some of Gavi's vineyards are more calcareous, and others more clayey. The calcareous soils produce wines that are more savory, and fresh, bracing even, while the clayey soils produce more structured, rounder wines.

The wines, tasted July 21st and 22nd 2009

Cinzia Bergaglio
Via Ggavi 29
Tassarolo (AL)
Tel 0143 342203

Bergaglio Cinzia La Fornace Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Deft brassy gold with brassy highlights. Elegant bouquet with heather and some honeydew melon, nice acidity too and quite fresh, with some mint as well as it opens. On the palate it's bright, with lively minerality and pleasant underlying bitterness that flow into a clean savory finish that flows into bitterness, with hints of sparkle as well that add peppery accents. It will drink quite well with grilled fish or white meats and egg dishes as well. Will age nicely for 3-5 years too.
2 stars

Bergaglio Cinzia Grifone delle Roveri Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections. The bouquet is fairly intense, with minerality and some heather, laced with hints of gunflint and very slight honeydew melon that increases, becoming mentholated with time. On the palate it's fairly rich, with honeydew melon supported by moderate acidity; it's ample and lumbers some; I'd have liked greater tightness to the wine. It will in any case work well with cheese or egg based dishes and with white meats in creamy sauces.
1 star

Bergaglio Nicola Azienda Agricola
Via Pedaggeri, 59
Fr. Rovereto 15066 Gavi (AL)
Tel. 0143 682195

Bergaglio Nicola Minaia Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with greenish reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with heather and supported by some greenish mentholated accents; fresh in a tomboyish key. On the palate it's fresh and lively, with rich green apricot fruit laced with some vegetal accents and bright apricot acidity and bitterness that flow into a fairly long bitter finish. Concentrated, and will drink quite well with rich grilled fish, creamy white meats, and I would also be tempted to serve it with oriental dishes, including some of the more spiced schools, for example Hunan Chinese.
2 stars

Bergaglio Nicola Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Papery brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with floral accents and some minerality, underlain by sea salt. Quite pleasant. On the palate it's it's deft, with clean honeydew melon fruit supported by savory accents and deft mineral-laced acidity that flow into a clean bright finish. Pleasant, in a slightly more delicate key, and will drink quite well with grilled fish, and will also work well with delicate oriental dishes, e.g. Cantonese. Will also be quite nice as an aperitif, and is well worth seeking out if you prefer finesse to power
2 stars

Bonfante Marco
Bonfante Marco Sori I Ronchetti Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is quite mineral, with a fair amount of heather as well, and some green apricot acidity. On the palate it's mineral, with fair savory bitterness and underlying bitter acidity that flows into a fairly long bitter finish. It's more mineral than many, and if you like the style you will enjoy it, though if you prefer more fruit driven whites you will like it less. Assuming you like the style -- it does display a certain grace, and grew upon me -- it will work quite well as an aperitif or with egg or cheese based dishes.
2 stars

Broglia La Meirana
Broglia Gianpiero Bruno Broglia Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with bright brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fresh, with clean herbal accents and delicate honeydew melon supported by some minerality and deft slightly greenish acidity. On the palate it's ample, with pleasant tart apricot fruit supported by quite savory acidity that flows into a clean savory finish with underlying bitterness. Pleasant, with considerable character, and will drink well with succulent fish, creamy white meats, and also with egg or cheese based dishes, and I would also be tempted to serve it with soups such as clam chowder (New England style). Worth seeking out.
2 stars

Broglia Gianpiero La Meirana Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy gold with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fresh, with pleasant slightly pungent floral accents mingled with heather and some minerality. On the palate it's full, and quite direct, with fairly rich honeydew melon supported by sea salt and slight greenish accents, and by bright tart apricot acidity that flows into a clean fairly tart finish. It's direct and up front, also because it is sweeter than some of the others, and will work well as an aperitif or with succulent fish, and because of its relative sweetness will also be a good bet with flavorful, more highly spiced oriental dishes, eg. Sichuan. Pleasant and approachable, but I found it a bit simple.
2 stars

Broglia Gianpiero Roverello Gavi di Gavi Gavi Spumante 2008
This is a Metodo Charmat, and is pale brassy white with white rim; the wine foams up in the glass as poured and settles to reveal fine continuous perlage. The bouquet is moderately intense, with some bitterness, and slight sea salt, supported by minerality that's not quite gunflint, but does bring granite to mind. On the palate it's full, with much of the fullness coming from sparkle, and moderately intense honeydew melon fruit laced with minerality, which carries more than acidity, and it flows into a clean rather mineral finish with peppery accents form the sparkle and lasting warmth. Pleasant enough in a very direct key -- not much complexity -- and will drink well with fish or creamy dishes at table, or be a nice alternative if you want a sparkling wine aperitif.
1 star

Bersano
Bersano Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is a bit odd, with greenish accents and faint petroleum/chemical overtones laced with some sea salt; though the description sounds offputting the aromas are not. On the palate it's moving in a different direction, with scrappy slightly vegetal acidity supported by bitterness that flows into a clean bitter finish. It's very young, and the nose is, I think, still developing, and will eventually follow the palate. In short, a work in progress, and if the palate sets the tone it will work well with succulent fish, and also with shell fish, including mussels and perhaps oysters. But it needs time, until winter 2009, and to score it now, when it is going in several directions, would do it a disservice.

Camera Silvano Le Selere
Camera Silvano Le Selere Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy gold with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with clean heather laced with minerality -- it brings to mind hammer-struck granite -- and deft crisp floral accents. On the palate it's fairly rich, in a distinctly mineral key, with savory minerality supported by mineral acidity that flows into a clean slightly bitter mineral finish. It's less approachable than some of the sweeter Gavis, but will drink well with flavorful grilled fish, and also with fried fish, as well as things such as an onion frittata. If you like the style you will enjoy it.
2 stars

Camera Silvano Le Selere Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is decidedly mineral, with gunflint and some bitterness, laced with heather. On the palate it's equally mineral, with bitter mineral acidity that flows into a fairly long mineral finish; I found it a touch thin, and if you like richer more fruit driven wines it won't work as well for you. On the other hand, if you like mineral wines it is rather pleasant, and will also age nicely for 3-5 years. In short, a wine that takes no quarter; you will like it or not.
1 star

Cantina Produttori del Gavi SCA
Cantina Produttori del Gavi SCA Go Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with pale brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is quite mineral, with airiness and a degree of dappled shade as well; as it opens savory notes emerge, with hints of apricot as well. On the palate it's moderately intense, with savory accents and minerality supported by moderate fruit; I'd have liked greater richness than I found.
1 star

Cantina Produttori del Gavi SCA GoGo Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with heather and minerality supported by some honeydew melon and slight hints of dried banana. On the palate it's ample and rather soft, with clean apricot fruit supported by greenish apricot acidity that flows into a fairly long warm finish; the impression is sunny, and the wine will work well with egg or cheese based dishes, and also with white meats or fish. In short, versatile, and I would also be tempted to serve it with fried meats or fish.
2 stars

Cantina Produttori del Gavi SCA Primi Grappoli Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, and pungent, with cut flowers mingled with gunflint and bitterness, and some underlying spice. On the palate it's ample, with minerality supported by tart, almost lemony acidity and by a certain glycerin laced fullness that flows into a tart finish. It's approachable, and will drink well with foods, though I found it a touch direct; it will work well with grilled fish or white meats, and also with dried foods, and I would also be tempted to serve it at a cookout, because its acidity will balance rich cookout side dishes (e.g. potato salad) nicely.
1 star

Carrea Lorenzo
Via Mameli 138,
15066 Gavi (AL)
Tel. 0143642841

Carrea Lorenzo Vigna del Nudo Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, and rather sweet, with honeydew melon laced with citrus and slight menthol; the combination brings caramel to mind. On the palate it's ample and soft, with moderate minerality and sweetness laced with caramel, and it's fairly settled, though the minerality and the bitterness it imparts does give some direction. But it's not that interesting.
1 star

Cascina La Doria
Cascina Doria SS La Doria Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections. The bouquet is unusual, with intense greenish vegetal accents that bring north European bottled ciders to mind -- greenish apple with some yeast -- but not unpleasant. Just atypical. On the palate it's ample, with moderate acidity and greenish vegetal accents supported by some minerality, which flows into a clean rather tart finish. It's fairly direct, and I found myself wishing it were tighter and better defined. And there is that nose.
1 star

Castellari Bergaglio
Castellari Bergaglio Fornace Gavi di Tassarolo Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale slightly greenish brassy white with brassy reflections. The nose is unusual at the outset, with milky accents that bring chevre (goat's milk cheese) to mind, and then opens gaining minerality while the cheese fades (not completely) and some heather also emerges, together with slight citrus. On the palate it's bright, with fairly intense savory minerality supported by mineral acidity and by a certain languidity that flows into a clean mineral finish with underlying bitterness. Pleasant, though a touch thin, and will drink well with shellfish (oysters, even); it will also work well as an aperitif with egg or cheese based antipasti.
2 stars

Castellari Bergaglio Rolona Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with greenish highlights and brassy reflections; the rim is white. The bouquet is fairly intense, with pungent sea salt and gunflint mingled with some savory accents; with more swishing greenish honeydew melon also emerges. On the palate it's full and savory, with fairly bright mineral acidity -- it somehow brings mica to mind -- that flows into a clean long rather bitter finish. It's pleasant, though more of a food wine than something to drink far from the table; I would be tempted to serve it with seafood based pasta dishes, or with grilled fish or creamy white meats. It grew upon me.
2 stars

Castellari Bergaglio Rovereto Vignavecchia Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and greenish accents. The bouquet is a bit off, with a spike of acetic acid that brings to mind my days in the darkroom, mingled with some citric notes, which gain in intensity with swishing. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich almost lemony citrus fruit supported by slightly greenish tannins from the grapes and flow into a rather bitter finish. It's a bit disjointed, and lumbering.

Score: None immediately, and this begs explanation.
One of the advantages of being just two in an absolutely unhurried tasting is that one can return to bottle even after several hours, and we did: the acetic acid is mostly gone. The citric notes are there, joined by dusky honeydew melon and green apricot acidity, while the palate becomes more languid and comes together more. In short, it developed tremendously. Of the three Castellari Bergaglio wines, it remains the least interesting however; at the most it inches up to 2 stars (barely).

Castello di Tassarolo
Castello di Tassarolo SS Tassarolo "S" Gavi di Tassarolo Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brilliant brassy reflections. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish accents laced with gooseberry, something I don't generally associate with Cortese, which with further swishing becomes more sage, and some honeydew melon with slight sweetish overtones, and hints of sweaty blonde. On the palate it's ample, with bright lemony fruit supported by clean citric acidity that flows into a fairly long lemony finish with some bitter undertones that emerge as all else fades. It's a pleasant food wine that will work quite well with grilled fish, and also with quickly cooked white meats, and will be nice at a cookout too, possibly with moderately spiced oriental as well.
2 stars

Castello di Tassarolo SS Castello di Tassarolo Gavi di Tassarolo Gavi DOCG 2008
Brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with minerality and some pine needles mingled with hints of sage, and, with swishing, some citric acidity. Nice balance and fairly bright. On the palate it's bright, with lively slightly greenish minerality supported by strong mineral acidity and some hints of pine needle, which flow into a clean mineral finish. Pleasant in a rather scrappy acidic key, and if you like the style you will enjoy it. If you instead prefer softer sweeter more fruit driven whites you may find it disconcerting. Assuming you don't, it will work well with flavorful fish, including shellfish, and also will be a nice accompaniment to fried fish or white meats. Worth seeking out if you like the style.
2 stars

Castello di Tassarolo SS No Sulphites Gavi di Tassarolo Gavi DOCG 2008
Brassy yellow with brassy reflections; it's darker than most of the other wines. The bouquet provides an equally sharp break, with aromas that bring a cider mill to mind, mingled with ripe not too crisp delicious apples. Nothing like the others, and the overall impression is tired. The palate matches the nose, with moderate acidity and tired minerality with underlying metallic bitterness that flows into a fairly bitter finish. It's older than it should be.
1 star

Castello di Tassarolo Vigneto Alborina Gavi di Tassarolo Gavi DOCG 2007
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and yellowish rim. The bouquet is powerful, and slightly green, with heather and slight cedar mingled with some savory accents; there's a fair amount of depth to it, and also pleasing spice from grapes. On the palate it's softer than I expected, and ample, with rather generic white berry fruit supported by moderate sweetness and slight acidity, which flow into a soft finish. It flags, and to be frank was a disappointment.
1 star

Cazzulo Luigi e GB Tenuta San Lorenzo
Cazzulo Luigi e GB Tenuta San Lorenzo Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale slightly greenish brassy white with brassy reflections. The bouquet is fairly intense, with gunflint bitterness mingled with minerality and some greenish citrus. On the palate it's tight, with bright minerality supported by bitter accents and citric acidity that flows into a clean bright citric finish. Lively, in a tomboyish scrappy key, and will work well with fried meats or fish, and also with succulent grilled fish -- salmon comes to mind --, and I would be tempted to serve it with white meats as well, especially outdoors. In short, versatile, and if you like the style you will enjoy it.
2 stars

Eredi di Guido Gerolamo SS Antico Podere di Vignavecchia
Via Circonvallazione, 4
Bosio, 15060 (AL)
Tel: 0143 684182

Eredi di Guido Gerolamo SS Antico Podere di Vignavecchia Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish honeydew melon mingled with sage and underlying citron acidity; as it opens brambly heather also emerges. Nice balance. On the palate it's rich, with lively lemony fruit supported by greenish acidity and some bitterness that flows into a clean slightly bitter citric finish. Pleasant, and will drink very well with fish or creamy white meats, and will also be good with fried meats or fish; there is a hint of sweetness to it, and I would be tempted to serve it with moderately spiced oriental dishes as well.
2 stars

Ghio Roberto - Vigneti Piemontemare
Via Circonvallazione, 3
Bosio, 15060 (AL)
Tel: 0143 684117

Ghio Roberto Vigneto Pian lazzarino Gavi di Bosio Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, and atypical, with aromas that bring iron and cider to mind. The palate is also a bit off, and tired, with acidity that is bright but laced with apple flavors that again bring cider to mind.
1 star

Guido Matteo
Guido Matteo SNC - La Smilla La Smilla Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with honeydew melon supported by some sage and delicate sweetness, with some mineral acidity as well. On the palate it's bright, with lemony acidity and honeydew melon fruit supported by greenish accents and bitterness that carry into a slightly greenish bitter finish. It's a pleasant food wine that will work quite well with grilled or roasted fish, and also with fried fish or meats, and I would be tempted to serve it with creamy fish chowders as well. If you like the style, which is rather scrappy, you will enjoy it very much.
2 stars

Guido Matteo SNC - La Smilla La Smilla Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is intense and a bit atypical, with honeydew melon mingled with gooseberry and some sage, also lemony citric acidity, with heather of a sun-drenched field as well. Interesting, in a concentrated key, and has quite a bit to say. On the palate it's full and rich, with considerably more savory minerality than I expected, and a rather languid feel to it that flows into a clean savory mineral finish. Pleasant, in a big-boned key, and I found myself much enjoying its minerality.
2 stars

Guido Matteo SNC La Smilla I Bergi Gavi DOCG 2007
Lively brassy yellow with brassy reflections and pale yellow rim. The bouquet is intense, and quite aromatic for a Cortese, with greenish floral accents that aren't gooseberry, but do have a vegetal component to them (something from the yeasts, perhaps) and also some almost candied green apricot. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich greenish apricot fruit supported by bitter greenish acidity and a slight yeasty feel that brings lees to mind; it comes across as having been quite concentrated (though not really overripe), and left on the lees with battonage for a time. It's particular, and if you like the style you will enjoy it, but you do have to like the style. I found it not tired, but not as lively as I would have expected a 2007 (which is a fine vintage) to be, either.
1 star

Guido Natalino - La Caplana
Via Circonvallazione 4
BOSIO, 15060 (AL)
Tel: 0143 684182

Guido Natalino SAS La Caplana Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with heather and some honeydew melon mingled with minerality and spice from grape. Pleasant t sniff. On the palate it's full, with bright citric fruit supported by greenish lemon acidity and by some underlying bitterness that flows into a long bitter lemony finish. Pleasant, in a slightly scrappy key, and will drink well with fried meats or fish, and also with grilled fish or creamy white meats; it will also be very pleasant with frittatas or other egg based dishes of that sort, and I would be tempted to serve it with mild to moderately spiced oriental dishes.
2 stars

I Moncalvi
I Moncalvi Vigne di Rovereto Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with considerable gunflint mingled with some citric acidity and rock dust. An extremely mineral wine. On the palate it's equally mineral, with savory sea salt and acidity that flow into a clean bright decidedly salty mineral finish. Pleasant, and if you like this style, which is far removed from softer or oaky fruit driven wines, you will enjoy it very much; it will work well with fish, but also with white meats.
2 stars

I Moncalvi Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with heather and minerality supported by some citric acidity and hints of graphite bitterness, with some greenish notes as well. On the palate it's ample, and quite savory, with intense greenish acidity as well that flows into a clean savory finish. Pleasant, though in a world far removed from soft luscious Chardonnay; it will drink well with grilled or roasted succulent fish, creamy white meats, and also has the acidity necessary to work with fried fish or meats. I found it growing upon me.
2 stars

Il Pareto
Il Pareto Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with citrus and honeydew melon mingled with green apricot acidity and some heather. On the palate it's ample, with bright lemony acidity supported by minerality and some sea salt, which flow into a clean bright lemony finish. Not quite sucking a lemon, but in that direction, and if you like this sort of tart wine you will enjoy it very much. But, again, we're far removed from sweeter fruit driven whites. It will be ideal with fried meats or fish (and vegetables) and I would also be tempted to serve it at a cookout, especially one featuring fish.
2 stars

Il Poggio
Il Poggio Il Poggio Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is decidedly different, with butterscotch covering the fruit -- it's barrel fermented (I think) and suffered wood's influence -- with some greenish rather citric underpinning. On the palate it's also colored by wood, with butterscotch laced lemon fruit that gains direction from lemony acidity, and flows into a sour lemon finish with some savory accents whose character is again due to wood-fruit interaction. If you like oaked white wines you will enjoy it, but I don't think Cortese takes well to wood -- wood overshadows it.
1 star

Bergaglio Piercarlo
Bergaglio Piercarlo Feudo del Selvago Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with heather and some sage mingled with greenish accents and lemony acidity. On the palate it's bright, with fairly rich minerality supporting bitter accents and some citric mineral acidity that flows into a clean mineral finish. It's quite approachable and will drink very well with foods, ranging from fish or cheese based antipasti though grilled fish, creamy white meats, and I would also be tempted to serve it with moderately spiced oriental dishes. I found it growing upon me.
2 stars

Il Vignale
Il Vignale Vigne Alte Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is muted at first swish; more swishing brings up some heather and hints of iodine, with slight saffron as well; it brings to mind a house shut tight. On the palate it's ample, and quite savory, with salt-laced citrus fruit supported by savory acidity that flows into a clean savory finish. Approachable, as a food wine, and will drink well with fish or white meats.
2 stars

La Chiara
La Chiara La Chiara Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is greenish, with heather and some cedar from grapes, laced with honeydew melon and sage. Haunting. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich savory citric fruit with tart honeydew melon acidity that flows into a clean savory finish. It will drink quite well with cheese or egg based antipasti, also with grilled or roasted fish, and will also work well with creamy white meats work on this. It grew upon me.
2 stars

La Ghibellina
La Ghibellina Mainin Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale slightly greenish brassy white with brassy reflections. The bouquet is moderately intense, with floral accents and some citric acidity, supported by slight lactic acid. On the palate it's brighter than I expected, with lively citric and mineral acidity supporting lemon fruit that flows into a distinctly mineral finish. Quick to write, but pleasant to drink in a scrappy key, and will work quite well with fried fish or meat, and also with rich creamy dishes; it will also be nice as an aperitif of you like the style, which is quite palate cleansing.
2 stars

La Ghibellina Altius Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2007
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish acidity and some minerality, but not much else; it feels incomplete somehow. On the palate it's ample, with bright lemony fruit supported by clean savory lemony acidity, which flows into a clean fairly rich slightly savory finish. It's fairly direct, and I found it a bit odd.
1 star

La Mesma
La Mesma Azienda Agricola SS Etichetta Nera Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with some honeydew melon and fairly intense savory accents mingled with some sage. Nice balance. On the palate it's fairly rich, with rather languid slightly greenish citrus supported by greenish tannic accents from grapes and underlying mineral bitterness that flow into a clean bitter finish. It's quite approachable, and will drink well with succulent grilled fish or creamy white meats, and also has the wherewithal to work well with fried meats or fish.
2 stars

La Mesma Azienda Agricola SS Etichetta Gialla Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with greenish reflections and white rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up honeysuckle mingled with some honey and tropical fruit, a mix that isn't absolutely typical for Cortese; with more swishing some smoky minerality also emerges. On the palate it's ample, with lemony citrus fruit supported by lemony acidity that flows into a clean lemony finish. It's more typical on the palate than the nose, and will in any case work well with rich foods that beg a bright acidic white to clear the palate between bites.
1 star

La Mesma Azienda Agricola SS Metotodo Classico Gavi DOCG 2007
This is a Metodo Classico (what the English say they developed before Dom Perignon), and is pale brassy white with greenish reflections, bubbling up in the glass before settling to a fine fairly continuous perlage. The bouquet is fairly intense, and savory, with sea salt and wet bread crumbs mingled with gunflint that becomes much stronger with swishing. On the palate it's ample and savory, with a much softer sparkle than the other sparkling wine we tasted, which was a charmat pressurized in an autoclave; flowing into a clean rather savory mineral finish. It's fairly direct, and feels young -- is young -- and will work well as an aperitif or with creamy dishes.
1 star

La Raia
La Raia Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Fairly bright brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with honeysuckle and some floral accents that are laced with cut flowers and greenish sage; it's not strictly typical of Cortese, but pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich mineral-laced lemony fruit supported by strong mineral bitterness and some greenish accents that flow into a long bitter finish with peppery accents. I found it a little more settled than I might have liked.
1 star

La Raia Pisé Gavi DOCG 2007
Brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is intense, and a bit unusual, with sweet gooseberry that has something candied to it, supported by heather, spice, and a fair amount of alcohol. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich lemony fruit that's supported by greenish slightly brambly tannins and by a degree of underlying savory bitterness that flows into a long fairly tart finish. It's ample, but lumbering, rather than graceful, and I found myself wishing it were tighter and more controlled. This said, because of its acidity it will work well with creamier risotti and other similar dishes.
1 star

La Toledana
La Toledana SS Raccolto Tardivo Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Brassy greenish gold with very slight petillance that leaves a patch of white in the center of the glass. The bouquet is fairly rich, with white berry fruit mingled with slight butterscotch and some greenish accents, with underlying savory spice. On the palate it's ample and quite soft, with moderately intense lemon fruit supported by moderate citric acidity and some mineral accents that flow into a clean bitter finish.
1 star

La Toledana SS Toledana Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Fairly intense yellowish brassy gold with yellow reflections. The bouquet is fairly intense, and decidedly greenish, with apple skins and hints of cider mingled with sage and very green honeydew melon, with underlying fairly sweet spice. On the palate it's bright, with lively greenish lemon fruit supported by mineral acidity that has some gunflint and vegetal accents, and flows into a clean sour lemony finish that gains a degree of languidity from some underlying sweetness. It is approachable, and will drink well with grilled fish, vegetable based main course dishes along the lines of a spinach soufflé, and also egg or cheese based dishes.
1 star

La Toledana Castello Toledana Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is unusual for a Cortese, with considerable floral accents that bring Malvasia to mind, but are likely a yeast-wine interaction, and some underlying greenish minerality and hints of smoke. On the palate it's ample, with bright lemony fruit supported by smooth citron acidity, and by a fair amount of glycerin that adds to the fullness, and it all flows into a clean citric finish. It's pleasant, in a rich key, and tough clearly past the first flour of youth is maturing nicely, and will work well with creamy risotti or pasta dishes, be they fish, vegetable, or meat based, and will also be nice with fish in general, or with fried foods. In short, versatile, and will also age nicely for at least 3-5 more years.
2 stars

La Zerba
La Zerba Terra Rossa Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is delicate, with citric accents and some sea salt mingled with slight honeydew melon. Pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's bright, with a very slight bitter sparkle supported by rather languid lemony fruit and underlying mineral bitterness, while the acidity that provides direction is citric. It's quite approachable, in an open-faced sunny sort of way, and will work well as an aperitif with fish or cheese based antipasti, and also with legume or vegetable based soups, and simple meat or fish dishes; because of its relative sweetness I would also be tempted to serve it with moderately spiced oriental dishes.
2 stars

La Zerba Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with honeydew melon supported by some vegetal accents, sage and clean bright bitter minerality with hints of gunflint. On the palate it's bright, with lively citric fruit supported by gunflint minerality and bitterness, which flow into a clean bright lemony finish. Pleasant, and will work well as an aperitif with fish, cheese or egg based antipasti, and also with creamy first course dishes, including scampi risotto, or with grilled fish and it also has the wherewithal to stand up to fried meats or fish. Pleasant in a wide-eyed smiling adolescent sort of way, and I found it growing upon me.
2 stars

Azienda Agricola Le Marne
Tel: 0143 681 158

Le Marne Marne Bianco Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy gold with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with savory citrus fruit that has some greenish accents and also displays hints of sage. On the palate it's unusual, in that it's quite savory -- one can almost feel salt crystals tumbling over the tongue -- with lemony acidity to provide a counterpoint to the savor. It's quite particular, bringing to mind salt marshes and hot summer days, and is something that you will like if you like the style, but isn't for everyone. If you like it, it will work quite well with rich, fatty fish, creamy white meats, or fried meats or fish (with vegetables). In other words, in occasions in which you want a zesty accompaniment.
2 stars

Le Marne Marne Oro - Tre Fioei Gavi DOCG 2008
Brassy gold with brassy reflections and golden highlights; white rim. The bouquet is intense, with savory accents mingled with lemon and greenish honeydew melon, together with some sage. On the palate it's full, and quite savory, with moderately intense mineral laced salty lemon fruit supported by savor and citric acidity that flow into a fairly long salty lemon finish. It's fairly direct, and I found myself wishing that it displayed greater brightness and richness of fruit than it does.
1 star

Malgrà SPA
Malgrà SPA Poggio Basco Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Lively brassy gold with brassy reflections and yellow body paling to white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense and decidedly greenish, with green apricots mingled with green apricot acidity and gunflint minerality and some wood smoke. On the palate it's ample and rich, with rather languid citric fruit supported by gunflint bitterness and fairly rich lemony acidity that flows into a clean bitter finish. Quite approachable, in a fairly sweet but far from fruit driven oaky whites key, and will drink nicely with fish or whit meats. I found it growing upon me.
1 star

Picollo Ernesto
Picollo Ernesto di Picollo Gianlorenzo Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish accents mingled with gunflint minerality and some sage at the outset; more swishing brings up some honeydew melon and apricot as well. On the palate it's ample, with bright lemony acidity supported by mineral bitterness and the slightest of sparkles that adds a peppery accent to the wine, and flows into a clean rather bitter finish. Quite approachable in a distinctly non-Chardonnay key, and will drink well with rich cheesy or egg based antipasti, with creamy risotti or fish based pasta dishes, and also with grilled fish or creamy white meats; the acidity is sufficient to work well with fried fish or meats too. Worth seeking out if you like the style; expect it to go quickly, and you may want a second bottle.
2 stars

Sebaste Mauro
Sebaste Mauro Gavi DOCG 2008
Brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with honeydew melon and bright lemony acidity supported by some greenish accents and a fair amount of alcohol. Pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's moderately intense, with green apricot fruit supported by moderate lemony acidity and some bitterness that flow into a clean bitter finish. It's not as rich on the palate as I might have expected, and I found myself wanting more from the fruit, though the bitterness of the minerality is nice.
1 star

Azienda Agricola Pestarino Alvio
Cascina Barcanello 7
15060 Capriata D'Orba (Al)
Tel: 0143/467282

Pestarino Alvio Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with lively greenish accents and honeydew melon mingled with green apricot and some spice from grape, also heather and a fair amount of alcohol. On the palate it's bright, with rich slightly greenish citric fruit supported by lemony minerality that flows into a clean bright mineral finish. Quite approachable in a far from chardonnay key, and will drink very well with grilled fish, creamy white meats, and egg or cheese based dishes; it will also be nice with fried fish or meats. Worth seeking out, and expect the bottle to go quickly.
2 stars

Spinola Andrea
Spinola Andrea Tenuta Massimiliana Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Brassy gold with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly pungent, with considerable gunflint and some spice, supported by some citric acidity, though gunflint comes to the fore. On the palate it's ample and bitter, with gunflint again to the fore, supporting bitterness and not much in the way of acidity nor other fruit. More minerality and the overall impression is fairly tired.
1 star

Tenuta Olim Bauda
Tenuta Olim Bauda Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy gold with brassy reflections and gold rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with gunflint and some greenish heather mingled with slight wood smoke and savory accents with a fair amount of alcohol as well. On the palate it's ample and softer than many, with fairly bright minerality supported by citric acidity and by some glycerin that imparts fullness, and flows into a clean bright fairly bitter finish. It's fairly direct, and approachable, a wine that will work well with fish based pasta dishes or risotti, or simply cooked white meats too, and also with legume based dishes.
1 star

Tenuta La Giustiniana
Tenuta La Giustiniana Montessora Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is intense, with heather and minerality mingled with honeydew melon, and a fair amount of alcohol. Pleasant. On the palate it's powerful, with rich moderately sweet lemony fruit supported by greenish tannins from the grapes and slightly greenish lemony acidity that flows into a fairly long almost brambly lemony finish. Pleasant, in a zesty key, and will work quite well with rich fish based pasta dishes, creamy risotti, succulent grilled or roasted fish, and also creamy white meats; given its verve it will also be a good bet with fried meats or fish, and I would be tempted to serve it with mild to moderately spiced Chinese dishes as well. Expect the bottle to go quickly.
2 stars

Tenuta La Giustiniana Lugarara Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellowish white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is bright, with clean honeydew melon mingled with some green apricot acidity and delicate floral accents. Pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's fairly rich, with bright savory sweet honeydew melon supported by some lemony acidity that flows into a decidedly savory finish. Pleasant, though a bit odd given the contrast between sweet and salt, and will work quite well with egg or cheese based dishes, from antipasti through frittatas and things such as quiches; it has a cheeky smile to it.
2 stars

Tenuta Nuova Ca' Da Meo di Magda Pedrini
Via Pratolungo, 163
Gavi, 15066 (AL)

Tenuta Nuova Cà da Meo Magda Pedrini Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with savory floral accents and some honeydew melon and honeysuckle, mingled with slight minerality. On the palate it's fairly rich, with moderately intense fairly sweet honeydew melon supported by decidedly savory accents and bitterness that gradually emerges in the finish. It's fairly direct, a food wine that will drink well with grilled fish or creamy white meats, and will go quickly. I would also be tempted to serve it at a cookout, especially one built around grilled fish.
1 star

Tenuta Nuova Cà da Meo La Piacentina Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and yellow rim. The bouquet is fairly sweet, and bordering on overripe, with honeydew melon mingled with bruised apple and hints of brown sugar. Not as interesting as some. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich honeydew melon supported by brambly bitterness and sour green apricot acidity that flow into a fairly long bitter finish. It's fairly direct, and a bit settled; I found myself wishing the fruit were crisper and tighter.
1 star

Tenuta San Pietro
Tenuta San Pietro in Tassarolo SRL SanPietro Gavi di Tassarolo Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellowish white with brilliant brassy reflections. The bouquet is a bit pungent on the outset; swishing brings up heather and some honeydew melon supported by savory accents. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich lemony fruit supported by quite a bit of glycerin and warm citric acidity that flows into a long lemony finish. Direct, and rather tart, but pleasant in this key, and will work quite well with creamy dishes, ranging from fish or vegetable risotti through frittatas and quiches, and will also do a nice job of balancing fried fish or meat. In short a good wine that will be perfect in the proper setting.
2 stars

Tenuta San Pietro in Tassarolo Il Mandorlo Gavi di Tassarolo Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is pungent at first swish, opening to reveal honeydew melon and some savory accents, with underlying minerality as well. On the palate it's fairly direct, with sweetish honeydew melon supported by lively lemony acidity and a salty underpinning that gains verve from peppery accents, leading into a fairly savory finish with tart lemon overtones. Versatile food wine that will work well with flavorful grilled fish, and will also be nice with creamy first course dishes, from cream soups (cream of cauliflower comes to mind…) through risotto.
1 star

Tenuta San Pietro in Tassarolo Gorrina Gavi di Tassarolo Gavi DOCG 2007
Lemony yellow with brilliant brassy golden reflections and white rim. The bouquet is intense, with gunflint minerality and some spice mingled with wood smoke and airy spice that derives (I think) from the yeasts. Nice balance. On the palate it's ample and soft, with considerable minerality and some greenish accents, but not much in the way of fruit -- some mineral acidity -- and underlying sweetness. It comes across as trying too hard, and is a bit too settled for me.
1 star

Tacchino Luigi
Via Martiri della Benedicta 26
Castelletto D'Orba, 15060 (AL)

Tacchino Luigi Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with sugary honeydew melon supported by airy spice from grapes, heather, and some savory minerality. On the palate it's ample and fairly sweet, with rich honeydew melon supported by slightly savory acidity that flows into a fairly long tart honeydew melon finish. Direct, but pleasant and quite approachable in a fairly sweet key (it's nowhere near as sweet as a blush wine, however), and if you like the style it will work well as an aperitif.
1 star

Tenuta Santa Seraffa
Tenuta Santa Seraffa Le Colombare Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Brilliant brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is rich, with heather laced with floral accents and honeydew melon, and some greenish vegetal eucalyptus accents with some underlying bitterness. On the palate it's full, with fairly savory honeydew melon supported by tart green apricot acidity that flows into a fairly tart finish with savory underpinning. Pleasant in an approachable, fairly direct key, and will drink well with creamy legume-based soups, risotti (fish or vegetable based), and also with succulent fish; given it's not being completely crisp -- there's a little residual sugar, though less than in some), I would also be tempted to serve it with moderately spiced Chinese or Thai dishes.
2 stars

Villa Sparina
Villa Sparina Etichetta Gialla Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish floral accents and some heather, and sea salt, supported by slight minerality and bitterness, and a degree of cut flower pungency as well. On the palate it's ample and soft, with fairly sweet white berry fruit supported by moderate acidity that flows into a warm savory mineral finish with tart apricot overtones. It's a bit laxer than some, but approachable, and if you like the style -- i..e. are not drawn to bracingly crisp wines -- will enjoy it; it will drink well creamy soups and first course dishes, and also with egg or cheese based dishes.
2 stars

Villa Sparina Monterotondo Gavi di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2007
Brassy yellow with brassy reflections and pale yellow rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with gunflint minerality laced with lemony accents, slightly sour honeydew melon, some sea salt, and sweetness too. It gives an impression of concentration and very ripe grapes. On the palate it's ample and rather soft, with apricot laced honeydew melon that's fairly sweet, supported by savory accents and some acidity that flow into a fairly tart finish that gains definition from emergent bitterness. Direct, and if you like softer sweeter (relatively speaking) whites, it will work well as an aperitif, and will also age well for 3-5 years at least. It feels as if the grapes were quite ripe, and to be honest I would have preferred more acidity (i.e. grapes harvested a little less ripe), which would have resulted in a tighter wine. But if you like the style you will enjoy it..
2 stars

Valditerra Laura
Valditerra Laura Vigna del Lago Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy yellow with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is a bit odd, with a tartness that brings the juice of a Granny Smith apple to mind, mingled with hints of hot iron and savory accents. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich, fairly sweet honeydew melon supported by ample sweetish apricot acidity and sea salt that flow into a broad fairly savory finish that is also fairly sweet. It's not loose, but relaxed, and ample, and I found myself wishing it were tighter.
1 star

Valditerra Laura Tenuta il Merlassino Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with sweet honeydew melon that gains definition from some floral notes and slight sea salt; there's not much acidity. On the palate it's ample and fairly rich, with warm fairly sweet lemon fruit supported by lemony acidity and a slight undercurrent of bitterness that provides a counterpoint to the sweetness, and continues into a fairly long savory finish. It's ample, and approachable is a softer sweeter (relatively speaking) key, and will work well as an aperitif if you like the style, which is fairly direct. Also with creamy dishes ranging from risotti though fish and white meats, and I think it will also work well with moderately spiced Oriental foods.
1 star

San Matteo
San Matteo Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with minerality and heather mingled with some sea salt and pleasant floral accents. Nice balance in a slightly crisper key than many of the wines from the second day. On the palate it's fairly rich, with bright honeydew melon supported by lemony acidity and slight savory accents, which flow into a clean tart rather savory finish. The palate is a little sweeter than the nose suggests, and the wine is quite approachable, in this sweeter key; it will work nicely as an aperitif or with creamy dishes.
2 stars

San Matteo Le Parodine Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is bright, with considerable heather and some floral accents, supported by some minerality and underlying citric acidity. On the palate it's ample, with rather soft honeydew melon fruit supported by moderate acidity, and by a peppery sparkle (for want of a better term) that adds crisp verve and flows into a fairly sweet finish that softens as the pepper fades. It's a bit unusual, and the peppery sting is something you will either like or not; if you do it will work well with creamy dishes, from risotto through fish or meat, and for some reason I found myself thinking of chipped beef.
1 star

San Matteo Gavi DOCG 2007
Brassy yellow with brassy reflections and pale yellow rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish tart apricot acidity and pleasant underlying minerality; nice balance and refreshing to sniff. On the palate it's full, and fairly rich, with greenish honeydew melon supported by gunflint laced minerality and clean mineral acidity that flow into an ample mineral laced finish. Pleasant in a slightly more mature key, though it's between strides, and will I think improve over the next couple of years. It will drink well with creamy pasta dishes and risotti, and also work well with simple grilled fish or white meats.
2 stars

La Bollina S.P.A.
Via Monterotondo, 58
15069 Serravalle Scrivia
Tel: 0143 61984

La Bollina Società Agricola SRL Fiolò Gavi DOCG 2008
Brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is quite floral, with hints of sweetness, and a bit unusual in the context of Cortese -- it brings a Malvasia to mind, almost, but is more likely the result of a particular yeast, and more swishing reveals some smoky savory notes. On the palate it's full, and fairly crisp, with bright tart slightly greenish apricot fruit supported by tart acidity that flows into a long warm tart finish. Quite pleasant and approachable if you like this far-from-oaky-white style, a food wine that will work well with egg or cheese based dishes, and also with succulent grilled or roasted fish; given its acidity it will also be a good bet with fried foods.
2 stars

La Bollina Società Agricola SRL Soasì Gavi DOCG 2007
Brassy golden yellow with brassy reflections and pale yellow rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with savory notes and some gunflint supported by minerality and slight lemony acidity. On the palate it's it's ample, with rich fairly soft lemony fruit nicely balanced by minerality and sea salt, and supported by citric acidity that flows into a clean bright citric finish. Pleasant, and the additional year of bottle age confers considerably more maturity.
2 stars

La Scolca
La Scolca is one of Gavi's historic wineries, and on the international stage it is probably the best known Gavi producer. However, it does not belong to the Gavi Consorzio, and therefore Carlo Macchi and I drove over to the estate in the afternoon, for what I thought would be a quick presentation. It turned out to be much more, several hours pleasantly spent conversing while we worked though many wines, including some truly impressive older vintages, which we all continued to enjoy after Carlo and I had finished taking notes.

La Scolca Gavi del Comune di Gavi Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with slight greenish highlights; the bouquet is bright, with considerable minerality and some sage, supported by deft acidity. On the palate it's bright, with lively lemony fruit supported by brisk lemony acidity, and by slightly dusky bitterness that flows into a long clean slightly bitter citric finish. Pleasant in a brisk, lively key, and quite approachable, will work well as an aperitif or with grilled fish or white meats. If you like the style, which is tarter than many Gavis, you will enjoy it very much; expect it to age well too, for 3-5 years.
88-90

La Scolca Gavi dei Gavi Bianco Secco Etichetta Nera Gavi DOCG 2008
Pale brassy white with white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with bitter sage and herbs supported by gunflint and some minerality, and , as it opens, greenish apricot and citrus. Much more intense than the base, and impressive. On the palate it's rich, with powerful lemony fruit supported by clean bright citric acidity with a rather languid underpinning that flows into a clean bright citric finish. Quite elegant, and will age well for at least 5-8 years. It's one of those wines one hates to pour out at a tasting; terrific freshness.
91

La Scolca Gavi dei Gavi D'Antan Gavi DOCG 2000
Yes, this is the current vintage. Brassy gold with greenish reflections. The bouquet is quite elegant, and beautifully mature, with considerable gunflint supported by greenish accents and spice; it displays considerable harmony, and as it opens the greenish accents develop into almond fuzz, walnut meats, and sea salt. Most impressive. On the palate it's rich, and quite delicate, with clean bright lemony fruit supported by deft acidity that leads into a clean, bright, slightly greenish citric finish. Time has melded and softened it, bringing subtlety and finesse. A beautiful wine to drink as an aperitif, or better yet far from the table.
92

La Scolca Gavi dei Gavi Etichetta Nera Gavi DOC 1989
Pale brassy green with white rim. One would guess it is 2-3 years older than the 2008, not 19. Impressive. The bouquet is equally impressive, with considerable gunflint supported by minerality and spice, as well as tart lemon and hints of Granny Smith apple and bruised Delicious apple. Astonishing freshness. On the palate it's even more impressive, with terrific freshness and citric acidity supported by clean deft minerality. A beautiful wine and a fantastic display of finesse with beautiful balance of savoriness and acidity that leads to terrific harmony; it's fresher and more elegant than the 08. And while one would expect the greater elegance considering that 1989 was a spectacular vintage, one wouldn't expect the freshness. Wow.
94-5.

A note: This is the first time (I think) that I have said wow in a tasting note. The 89 Gavi Etichetta Nera shows several things:
  • Cortese, if planted in the proper spot and properly farmed, doesn't need any assistance from other varietals, be they national or international.
  • Cortese ages beautifully, though to age this way it does need to have a degree of acidity at the outset.
  • Cortese is capable of terrific finesse when properly treated.

La Scolca Gavi Metodo Tradizionale Classico 2006
Pale papery white with greenish reflections and fine perlage. The bouquet is fairly intense, with breadcrumbs and some greenish accents mingled with gunflint. Nice balance. On the palate it's full fairly rich, and quite soft, with lively citric acidity supported by sea salt and creamy sparkle that flow into a clean slightly greenish peppery finish. Quite approachable and will work well as an aperitif or with fish throughout the meal.
2 stars

Soldati La Scolca D'Antan Spumante di Qualità 1997
Again, this is the current vintage. Pale brassy yellow with fine perlage and greenish reflections. Elegant bouquet, with clean slightly green minerality and deft spice laced with almond skin and some walnut meats, and underlying wet breadcrumbs. Tremendously elegant. On the palate it's beautiful, with rich creamy gunflint-laced lemony fruit supported by some vanilla, and one could flounder along with other superlatives, but a simple magnificent will suffice.
93-95

Soldati La Scolca D'Antan Vino Spumante di Qualità Rosato Brut 1997
This also has 5% Pinot Nero, and is pale salmon with white rim and fine constant perlage. The bouquet is rich, with breadcrumbs and spice supported by minerality and some bitterness. Quick to write, but very nice, and harmonious too. On the palate it's full and fresh, with clean bright minerality and deft acidity supported by sparkle and slight hints of red berry fruit that flow into a finish that lasts and lasts. Very impressive, and one of the finest rosés I've had.
93-5

And there we have it.
My Sincerest Thanks to Carlo Macchi, for inviting me (his impressions of the 2008 Gavi, in Italian), and to Mauro Delfino, Director of the Consorzio del Gavi, for hosting me.

3 comments:

maurizio fava said...

Dear Kyle,

welcome among Gavi's real lovers.
Your notes are deep and keen.
thank you very much for remembering my book, but most of all I am very glad because from now on Carlo Macchi, Antonio Paolini and I will be no more alone in trusting in older Gavi bottles.
Minerals, and elegance, are coming out from Cortese wines more and more after some years, up to twenty.
Ciao
Maurizio Fava

Heiko said...

I've recently started following your blog, thank you for sharing your tasting notes. I have also once spent a pleasant morning at La Scolca visiting Broglia in the afternoon. I agree with you, that the La Scolca wines are capable of ageing. Did you know they produce and a secondary label 'Cortegaia' for export at half the price of their official label. However the wines are exactly the same. They do a straight Gavi, as well as an Eitchetta Nera and a spumante in that range. I believe they are also shipped to the USA. They might not want this particular fact published mind as you will not find any references to La Scolca on the Cortegaia range.

Compliments, by the way at how you still manage to write detailed tasting notes during a very long tasting. I know it's easier with dry whites, but I've noticed you do this for reds too.

Kyle Phillips said...

Ciao maurizio, I have known that Gavi can age for a long time -- when i visited 10 years ago, someone -- don't remember who, but not La Scolca -- pulled out some old bottles that were impressive.

As for detailed notes, glad you like them! I write them because if I don't I really don't remember what I have tasted as well as I'd like. Writing helps fix things in memory.

Thanks also for the info on Cortegaia. I was unaware of it, because none of the Soldati family have ever mentioned it to me.

Kyle