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Gavi, the noble white of Piemonte

The Gavi wine is produced in a magical land, among castles, history and mysterious scents, part of the elegant expression of Italia aristocracy of the eighteenth century

Gavi or Cortese di Gavi Docg is one of Italy's most fashionable white wines. It is made in Piemonte region, in the North of Italy, uniquely from Cortese grapes, an extremely ancient variety.

The name of this Denomination of Origin comes from Gavi, the town at the centre of its production zone. Situated in the heart of the eleven municipalities of the Appellation, Gavi is a town whose roots go back to the pre-Roman period. The chronicles handed down to us speak of an ancient Gavi in conflict with and then conquered by Rome.

A magical land, filled with ancient scents and legends that tell about a French princess on the lam who was so fascinated by those hills to end up building a castle which became then the greatest medieval Fortress of Europe, never stormed in the thousand years that followed. History then has shaped these land during the centuries, and today it shows the signs of the splendid time gone by: traces of roman colonizer, ancient medieval towns with boundary walls, splendid Romanesque churches and pastoral villages; fascinating landscapes stud by rural villages in wooded hills bordered from torrents and castles which stand high next to primitive flour mills.
There are plenty awesome posh dwellings and fame reservers of Genoa's noble families. And it is just in these dwellings that te Gavi wine's story starts.

Gavi, the aristocratic wine
The Gavi district's vocation for vinegrowing certainly has very ancient origins.
For centuries thug, the producers in these area joined the various varieties of grapes for the wine production till when, thanks to some agronomic studies, someone start realized the great potential of the cultivations of the Cortese variety in purity. In 1876 the Marquis Cambiaso, owner of the Centuriona and Toledana estates, created the first large-scales specialized plantings of Cortese vines, and his example was shortly followed by the aristocratic families Raggio, Serra, Sartorio and Spinola. The popularity among the Genoa's aristocratic families carried to a fast spread of the Gavi wine which was soon known and appreciated also out of Italy, especially in Germany, France, Switzerland and South America.
Finally in 1974, Gavi or Cortese di Gavi achieved the DOC status, and from 1998 onwards this was upgraded to DOCG. This recognition will allow Gavi to consolidated its international prestige and most importantly to improve the quality of this noble Piedmontese wine.

Becoming Gavi DOCG
To become Gavi, a wine has to be produced in the Docg area with 100% Cortese grapes.
Still, sparkling or spumante classic and charmat method, Gavi it is noted for acute dryness and fresh, flinty acidity. It’s a bright straw-yellow wine with greenish highlights and it has a full, delicate, elegant bouquet which brings flowers and fresh fruit to mind - mostly lemons, lilies of the valley, peach, banana and green apple-. Its palate is attractively young, dry, fresh and well-balanced.
Generally, when young, it is fresh and fruity with a characteristic hint of bitter almonds but it can also age well, assuming surprising, intense tertiary aromas.
Gavi wine is remarkable especially for its elegance and delicacy which made it an extremely versatile wine.

The Gavi Consortium
It represents, since 1994, 70% of Gavi Production with 200 associated producers that in 2004 celebrated the 30th anniversary of the DOC (Controlled Denomination of Origin) and the 6th of DOCG (Controlled and guaranteed Denomination of Origin). It protects and controls the Gavi denomination through the management of numbered State seals (the small green band that the consumer can find on every bottle) and the Vineyard Register.

Q&A with Mauro Delfino, Director of Consortium of Gavi

-What do you see as the future for the Consortium, an increase in exports or domestic consumption?
Considering that the Consortium Gavi DOCG represents approximately 70% of the production we can assert that in the close future we will mainly export towards other countries. To this day the foreign market represents approximately 70% against 30% of the domestic market. The Gavi is currently sold in over 50 nations and the main markets of reference will be Germany, UK and USA.

- Regarding the exportation, do you feel more protected since the Doc, Docg, Igt are now in a common Dop/Igp register?
Certainly the new wine OCM modifies those which were the parameters till now considered; we agree on the fact that with these changes there will be a higher protection for our products and we hope that the enrollment to a common register will guarantee this protection.

- Is Gavi wine confined by tradition or opened to innovation?
Talking about the associates, in the last ten years we have noticed a remarkable enhance on the qualitative aspect, thanks to the technical innovations both in vineyard that in wine cellar. Therefore we can assert that without forgetting the great tradition of the territory the producers are positively inclined to accept the innovations.

Given its discreet and elegant fascination, the Gavi matches pleasantly with appetizers, soups, delicate pasta dishes, fish (sea food salad, marinade anchovies, crustaceans), fried vegetables, white meat. The more structured ones are also great combine with goat or herbal cheeses.

by Duccio Morozzo della Rocca
01 february 2010, Food & Fun > Knowledge