or Cortese di Gavi

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Gavi or Cortese di Gavi is a renowned Italian dry white docg zone of 1,455 ha/3,595 acres and the most interesting expression of the cortese grape in piemonte. It is produced in 11 communes (Bosio, Carrosio, Capriata d’Orba, Francavilla Bisio, Gavi, Novi Ligure, Pasturana, San Cristoforo, Serravalle Scrivia and Tassarolo) in the south east of the province of Alessandria. Although the name of each commune (and even single vineyards) may appear on labels, stylistic differences are not (yet) evident, and most wines are blends of more than one commune. The red dolcetto grape was also important here until phylloxera devastated the vineyards. At its best, Gavi is fruity and aromatic, occasionally with mineral notes and a tangy, citric finish. In the past the wines tended to be rather neutral, caused by excessively high maximum yields, which have recently been reduced to 9.5 tonnes/ha or 60 hl/ha, and lower yet for single-vineyard wines. For a white wine best known in its still form, Gavi comes in a surprisingly wide range of styles: frizzante, spumante, and metodo classico (with a minimum required lees ageing of 18 months), and méthode ancestrale all allowed. Although there are several barrique-aged examples, most producers stick to the conventional winemaking practice of temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel, leading to a certain sameness in the wines. More interesting Gavi tends to come from producers such as Castello di Tassarolo who focus on organic and biodynamic practices while fermenting the wine with ambient yeast.