The 54 hectares of the Fontanafredda estate, with its central cluster of stately
houses, outlying villas, woods and groves of Hazel, began as a charmed gift in a
colourful and episodic love story. The notable wooer was Vittorio Emanuele II, the
King of Sardinia. The object of his affection was Rosa Vercellana; young daughter
of a standard-bearer in the Napoleonic Imperial Guard. In returning the king’s
amorous attentions, she was bestowed with the landholding title: Countess of
Mirafiori and Fontanfredda. To Vittorio’s love-struck eyes and heart, his mistress
would always fondly remain La Bela Rusin. As for the vision of their love child and
son, Emanuele was the family member who imagined the estate’s potential as a winemaking Tenuta. In his accession as the Count of Mirafiore, he diligently set
about the life-long task of planning, planting and cultivating the necessary vines.
In northwestern Italy, a spasso tra i vigneti (‘walking in the vineyards’) can further
translate as wading among undulating green waves of Nebbiolo grapes, mostly
destined to become world-renowned Barolo and Barbaresco red wines. In misty
hills surrounding the town of Gavi, though, there’s a modest white delight vying for
some increased attention. Considered minor due to its very limited planting of
approximately 1,500 hectares, the early ripening Cortese is nonetheless a long
established variety well-suited to the micro-climate in Gavi’s terroir. Consistently
creating flavourful wine from the relatively neutral, plump, yellow-skinned grape
clusters remains challenging for the region’s winemakers. This week’s DéClassé recommended Fontanafredda Gavi Di Gavi 2014 is an accomplished example of
what’s possible in fashioning a modern, mid-weight Italian white. The added body
of this varietal bottling is helped by a deft blending of several fermented batches:
85% in stainless steel and 15% in oak barriques. The technique yields delicate
layers of fruit, aromatics, chalky minerality and bright citrus-tinged acidity.
Long overshadowed by other Italian star whites such as Trebbiano d’Abruzzo,
Soave and Verdicchio, this is a time-limited opportunity to compare your palette
to what Italians are currently drinking while exporting most of their Pinots abroad.
If you have an appreciation for wines that emphasize finesse over power, then
this premium offering will be a seductive addition to festive Christmas events.
It will remain pleasantly-so well into the New Year if you can hang onto some!
FONTANAFREDDA GAVI DI GAVI 2014
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #366948 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
Sugar Content Descriptor: D
Made in Piedmont, Italy
Release Date: December 12, 2015
This light straw-yellow wine has delicate flavours and aroma of pear, honeydew,
lime and some subtle nutty notes expected of the grape variety. Gavi will shine
as an apéritif served with salty antipasti, fresh pasta with parmesan and truffle
shavings, shellfish, poached fish with capers or fillet of sole with roasted almond.