Piedmontese Gavi

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.

michele-chiarlo-vineyard

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-gavi

MICHELE CHIARLO LE MARNE GAVI 2015
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #228528 | 750 mL bottle
Price $16.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Piemonte, Italy
By: Michele Chiarlo Azienda Srl
Release Date: January 21, 2017

Tasting Note
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.

Gavi Alert

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!

Gavi2

FONTANAFREDDA GAVI DI GAVI 2014
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #366948 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in Piedmont, Italy
By: Fontanafredda
Release Date: December 12, 2015

Tasting Note
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.

Gavi Alert

Since 1956, the Piedmont winemaker Michele Chiarlo has been at the forefront
of innovation and the significant elevation of quality, particularly for Barbaresco,
Barolo and Barbera, as well as, some of the less well-known styles such as this
week’s DéClassé recommended Gavi. Now with official designation, the Gavi
DOCG lies in northern Italy: a region that enjoys a unique micro-climate which
is highly conducive to cultivation of early ripening grape varieties like Cortese.
On 60 hectares, the Chiarlo family operation continues to explore and develop
the full potential of a terroir in which the combined Alpine and Maritime weather
conditions sees the heat of summer alternating with fog-bound harvest seasons.

Orme Su La Court (Footsteps in La Court) is an additionally remarkable aspect
of a winery already blessed with the beauty of its natural surroundings. It’s an
art walk that expresses the influences of the four elements of Earth, Air, Water
and Fire. Designed in collaboration with Genovese artist Emanuele Luzzati, the
sculpture installations have been placed amidst the long rows of vines that wend
their way across the rolling hills of the La Court estate. A notable feature, is the
grouping of ceramic heads on poles called ‘Le Teste Segnapalo’. These are
the reinterpretation of a traditional practice of placing figureheads in the vineyard
landscape to ward away negative influences on the growth of the grapes. The
walk begins and ends at a cluster of farm houses where exhibits, film showings
and live performance offer visitors the delightful chance to mix the appreciation
and creativity of the wines with the experiences of art.

The North American market is still slow in grasping an appreciation for the wide
range of Italy’s dry white wine other than ubiquitous varieties of Pinot Grigio and
Soave; arguably the least distinctive of their exported offerings. Gavi, apart from
being a pleasing apéritif wine served alongside antipasti, is also complimentary
to main courses of grilled fish, light cream-based pasta or pesto dishes. Dare to
consider adding this to an evolving contingent of alternate and more-interesting
choices such as Pecorino and Verdicchio. Only available in LCBO’s Vintages
section, this limited, seasonal release won’t be on shelves for very long.

Gavi

MICHELE CHIARLO LE MARNE GAVI 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #228528 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Piedmont, Italy
By: Michele Chiarlo Azienda Srl
Release Date: Feb. 7, 2015

Tasting Note
This crisp, dry white wine has many of the typical characteristics of the Cortese
grape including delicate notes of honey, apples, vanilla and a touch of minerality.
Try serving with stuffed trout, roast pork or vegetable and cheese ravioli.