One of the top priorities for my dad during the 25-day wine hunt through Lombardy, Piemont, Tuscany, and Emilia-Romagna was to journey into the Apennines mountains to visit the village and vines of Gavi, Italy. Through the years, our family had enjoyed many bottles of this crisp DOCG white wine grown in southern Piedmont bordering on Liguria (e.g., Genoa). The presence of grape cultivation in the Gavi area dates back to 972AD and was the first Italian white wine to gain an international reputation.
Rare but memorable have been the moments when we discovered a Gavi di Gavi® on a restaurant wine list or in a wine store! We had come to understand that the term Gavi di Gavi or “Black Label” Gavi was only used when the wine was produced from Cortese grapes grown in the Gavi township. Typically, our discoveries were followed by excited exclamations and an elevated anticipation of what was to come.
According to Wine Folly’s Essential Guide to Piedmont, “Gavi wines are made in a dry style and are known for their lemon-like citrus flavors and tingly acidity. Cortese has the same mouth-zapping refreshing quality as some Pinot Grigio and Chablis wines.” Our prior experience with this highly rated white wine had confirmed its optimal pairing with seafood as well as with cheeses that included goat, feta, herbed Boursin, and Raclette as it also has hints of almonds on the finish. The wine is capable of aging well.
So, you can only imagine our excitement as we set off on our 45-minute drive from La Villa to Gavi through the rolling vineyards of Piedmont. As we rounded narrow turns we were treated to sweeping panoramic views of fall mists blanketing a patchwork quilt of deepening yellow and red squares of leaves descending into their season of dormancy and rest.
We arrived at Gaviteca, operated by the Castellari Bergaglio vineyard for our tasting. Due to being late fall we were the only people in the lovely tasting facility. Our tasting consisted of both the still and sparkling Cortese wines which had been matured in stainless steel drums. After purchasing a few bottles to take back to La Villa we completed our journey into the small village of Gavi and onto its small streets. We were struck with the quiet labors of the villagers. It was as though village life remained untouched and, as locals peered out of their windows at us likely wondering who we were and what had brought us to their humble village, we were aware that we had entered into a tableau of life after harvest.
At the time of our visit in 2010 we were not aware of the historic Fortress of Gavi dating back to 973AD. We had not done enough research prior to visiting this tiny village as it has not adjusted its economy towards tourism but remains focused on the growth and production of the Cortese grape.
One of the better known Gavi vineyards is La Scolca, purchased between 1917 and 1919 by the great-grandfather of Giorgio Soldati who, today, leads the company with his daughter Chiara. They welcome guests to their vineyard through scheduled visits. For additional journey ideas check out The Grand Wine Tours “Gavi Off the Beaten Path”.
When I asked my dad why visiting Gavi was one of his unforgettable moments he said, “The trip to the Gavi region and to the town of Gavi (“Gavi di Gavi”) was a personal highlight. We have enjoyed so much really good Gavi wine that getting to set foot in the region and the town was a special experience. It meant we had gone from the bottle to the terroir and another special memory was created!”
Mary Beth I have a passion for creating and experiencing unforgettable moments and sharing those with others. I hope that this story has helped you experience one of those moments.