Piemonte Gavi di Gavi

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.

bersano

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

BERSANO GAVI DI GAVI 2014
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #999979 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
12% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Piemonte, Italy
By: Bersano Vini S.P.A.
Release Date: July 25, 2016

Tasting Note
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.

Barbera Alert

With a history dating to the late nineteenth century, Cantine Giacomo Ascheri
has been doing things their way for some time now. On one level, this means
shying away from the commercial temptation to plant international varieties and
remaining committed to the development of long-standing, indigenous grapes. In
the case of this week’s DéClassé recommendation, this translates as a varietal
bottling of 100% Barbera sourced from their Podere di Rivalta estate between
the communes of La Morra and Verduno – situated at the center of the famed
Piemonte wine-growing region.

Bordered on three sides by the Alps, the region comes by its moniker honestly
‘at the foot of the mountains’. Apart from the featured offering of the Fantonelle
from the Barbera D’Alba DOC, the verdant valleys and plain here produce a wide
range of notable grapes and wine styles including Barolo, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and
various frothy versions of Asti! 
Food-wise, white Truffles, Porcini mushrooms and
the signature pasta Agnolotti provide a 
basis for many flavourful pairing options.

In Italy, Barbera is considered to be the quintessential ‘wine of the people’ as it’s
a staple and affordable table wine. With less commercial payoff, it is frequently
assigned to growing in less-desirable plots and as it enjoys fewer advantages of
terroir, it can sometimes be difficult to tame and bring to full maturity. Due to
very unusual though favourable swings in climate during 2011, this example is
nicely rounded and concentrated, demonstrating what’s possible with the grape.
It’s ready to be enjoyed now in a fresh, fruity state or could be allowed to become
more complex with some extra time tucked away. This is a benchmark vintage, so
budget allowing – buy lots and get some of this limited stock now!

Ascheri

ASCHERI FONTANELLE BARBERA D’ALBA 2011
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #982462 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
14% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Piedmont, Italy
By: Ascheri Giacomo
Release Date: August 2, 2014

Tasting Note
Berry, plum, some restrained spice notes and a subtle touch of sweetness
characterize this deep, ruby-red wine. It’s medium-bodied with bright acidity,
so try with roasted meat and game dishes, root vegetables or strong cheeses.