As of 1956, the 4th generation vintner, Michele Chiarlo, has been at the forefront of innovation and the significant elevation of wine quality in Piemonte; particularly with Barbera, Barbaresco, and Barolo. Aside of this cadre of fleshy red wines, the region also excels in some less-well-known, white wine styles with a brightly acidic character such as Moscato and this DéClassé recommended Gavi. Now with an official designation of origin, Italy’s Gavi DOCG encompasses 13 communes in the province of Alessandria whose winemakers benefit from a regional micro-climate; one that’s highly conducive to early ripening grapes like Cortese; one of the few varieties that can be successfully cultivated both as a wine and table grape. Within its diversity of vineyards that are dotted about southeastern Piemonte (‘ai piede della montagne’ – ‘at the foot of mountains’), the Chiarlo vintners continue to explore the potential and meet the challenges in managing both red and white grape-growing terroirs. Particularly helpful for this balancing act of viticulture is the convergence of weather systems that are influenced by the Apennine Mountains, and an arm of the Mediterranean called the Ligurian Sea. The sufficiently long summer coaxes ripeness into the red Nebbiolo fruit, and as the plentiful heat gives way to nebbia (fog) shrouded harvest seasons, the desirable crispness of white Cortese is maintained. For this week’s featured, Michele Chiarlo Le Marne Gavi 2015, the unique nature of the soil provides a meaningful namesake: Le Marne – a reference to the calcium-rich marl with volcanic deposits.
Already blessed with the natural beauty of its surroundings, Orme Su La Court (‘Footsteps in La Court’) is another remarkable aspect of this winery. It’s a vineyard art walk that expresses the influences of the four elements: Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. Designed in collaboration with the late Genovese artist, Emanuele Luzzati, sculpture installations have been integrated into the long rows of vines that wend their way across the rolling hills of the La Court estate. One of many notable features is the group of ceramic heads on poles called ‘Le Teste Segnapalo.’ These are a reinterpretation of the traditional farming practice whereby figureheads are placed in the landscape to ward away negative influences on the growth of the grapes. For the most part, the ever-expanding installations intend to create meditative spaces, viewpoints, and playful accents on a walk that begins and ends at a cluster of farm houses. Here, the curated exhibits, screenings, and musical performances offer visitors the opportunity to further mix an appreciation of the wines with the creativity and range of the Piedmontese arts.
The North American market is still slow in appreciating a fuller range of Italy’s dry white wine catalog other than ubiquitous Pinot Grigio and Soave; arguably, some of the least distinctive of their exported offerings. Dare to consider adding this Gavi to your evolving contingent of alternative and more interesting choices such as Friulano, Vermentino, Lugana, and Pecorino. Available in the LCBO Vintages section, the limited stock of this seasonal release won’t be on shelves for very long – but will hold up well in your cellar for at least the remainder of this year.
MICHELE CHIARLO LE MARNE GAVI 2015
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #228528 | 750 mL bottle
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD
Made in Piemonte, Italy
By: Michele Chiarlo Azienda Srl
Release Date: January 21, 2017
This firmly structured, dry white wine has many of the characteristics typical of the Cortese grape including delicate notes of honeydew, apple, vanilla, and a touch of minerality. Apart from being a pleasing apéritif wine when served alongside antipasti, it’s also complementary to main courses of grilled fish, stuffed trout, light cream-based pasta or pesto dishes, roast pork, or vegetable and cheese ravioli.