In the evocative parlance of 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 Barbaresco and Barolo red wines. In the misty hills surrounding the town of Gavi, though, there’s a modest white delight also vying for increased attention. Considered a minor grape due to its very limited planting of approximately 1,500 hectares, the early ripening Cortese is nonetheless a long-established, indigenous variety that has been cultivated in pockets throughout Provincia di Alessandria since the early 17th century. While being well-suited to the micro-climate and soils of these northern Italian terroirs, consistently extracting flavourful wine from the relatively neutral, plump, yellow-skinned grape clusters remains an intriguing challenge for the otherwise skilled vintners of Piemonte. When they get it right, which is now often the case, the result is satisfyingly lithe, elegant and complex.
Businessman Giuseppe Bersano initially founded his azienda vinicola at the turn of the 20th century by purchasing a languishing, 12-hectare aristocratic estate belonging to the Count Cremosina. Over the next 50 years of family succession, and with the gradual acquisition of other nearby properties it became one of the Piemonte region’s leading wineries; now prolifically drawing from 230 hectares of vineyard on ten diverse and desirable estates. After a brief period of decline while under corporate ownership in the 1970’s, the various Bersano lands and cellars were acquired by the Massimelli and Soave winemaking families in 1985. Astutely, the current managing generation of these storied Piemontese clans have entrusted a passionate and highly regarded vintner, Roberto Morosinotto, with moving the brand’s traditions forward into its 2nd century.
This week’s DéClassé featured Bersano Gavi di Gavi 2014 is an accomplished example of what’s possible in fashioning modern, mid-weight Italian white wine. Finished in stainless steel tanks, the technique yields delicate layers of tropical fruit and green apple, floral aromatics, chalky minerality and citrus-tinged acidity. Overshadowed for a time by other Italian star white wines such as Verdicchio, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, and Soave, this is a time-limited opportunity to compare your palette with what savvy Italians are currently drinking at home – while they export much of their Pinots abroad. If you have an appreciation for wine that emphasizes finesse, then this premium offering will be a seductive addition to your go-to list. To paraphrase Bersanos’s playful motto ‘if you want to drink well, get yourself a vineyard,’ I would say: ‘if you want to drink well this summer, get three bottles of the Gavi di Gavi 2014’ – and enjoy while it’s still young.
BERSANO GAVI DI GAVI 2014
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #999979 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD
Made in Piemonte, Italy
By: Bersano Vini S.P.A.
Release Date: July 25, 2016
This bright straw-yellow coloured wine with its flinty citrus character accented by light almond notes is an ideal compliment to summer hors d’oeuvres and a broad range of seafood such as scallops, calamari, and oysters, or with pesto dressed pasta, cheese filled ravioli and herbed poultry.