In this episode, we say “Go for the Gavi!” We are betting that you have probably not heard of Gavi or the Cortese grape it is made from, but if you are a white wine fan, you are going to LOVE Gavi. This underrated white wine from the Piedmont area of Italy is crisp, refreshing, and delicious, and sure to be a crowd pleaser! Perfect with fish, pastas with cream sauce or clams, arugula salad, or even a pizza bianco, Gavi is a versatile wine that is amazing with food. We tell you the sweet love story of the Princess Gavia. We also talk about why the wine is called Gavi and not Cortese, why you have probably never heard of it, and where you can find it. And we talk a little bit about one of our favorite areas of Italy that is close to Gavi - the town of Nervi near Genoa. Wines reviewed in this episode: 2020 Banfi Principessa Gavia Gavi, 2020 Villa Sparina Gavi di Gavi, and 2020 Enrico Serafino Grifo del Quartaro Gavi.
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Episode 51: Italian Wine Adventure #4: Gavi! (Perfect for white wine lovers, a little known stunner that is crisp and refreshing, the story of Princess Gavia) 00:00
Hello! And welcome to The Wine Pair Podcast. I’m Joe, your sommelier of reasonably priced wine, and this is my wife and my wine pairing partner in crime, Carmela. And we are The Wine Pair!
Ok, a quick orientation for those of you who may be new to the podcast - in each episode we learn about, taste and review three wines that are reasonably priced - meaning under $20 - and should be easy for you to find. Our goal is to have some fun, learn about some new wines you just may want to try, and expand your wine horizons while taking some of the stuffy and the boring out of wine. And we are officially recommended by the editors of Decanter Magazine, who describe our Podcast as fun, irreverent, and chatty. And entertaining!
Carmela, we are back after taking a short hiatus to visit our oldest children in NYC - woo hoo! - and in this episode, to get us back into the groove right away, we are taking another Italian Wine Adventure. And, I know you want to ask something like when are we packing our bags, but we are taking another virtual trip to Italy to learn about and taste a white wine called Gavi. I also wanted to get us back into the groove by choosing a white wine for this episode so you would be excited!
Now many people out there in listening land are probably unfamiliar with Gavi, but don’t worry, we’ll edumacate you about Gavi, and we think this is a wine you are going to love if you are a white wine lover, especially if you love a good crisp, acidic wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chablis - otherwise known as an unoaked Chardonnay. In fact, we just had couple of bottles of Gavi recently on our latest trip to NYC, and it was definitely a crowd pleaser.
Now Gavi, like a lot of European wines, is named for a region, and not for the grape - which is always confusing. The grape in Gavi is actually called Cortese, and we’ll talk about this grape in a bit, but the area where Gavi is from is one that we are somewhat familiar with for a few reasons, Carmelita.
First, Gavi is an area in Piedmont, Italy, which is where Barolo and Barbaresco come from. Piedmont is a big area in Northwest Italy that borders France and Switzerland, and probably the most famous city in that area is Turin. The commune of Gavi itself is in a southern area of the region of Piedmont, not very far from the border of the region of Liguria, which is the second reason we are somewhat familiar with it, Carmela, because, the Gavi area is basically due north of Genoa, Italy, which is a beautiful area of Italy that we spent some time in. More specifically in a little city just outside of Genoa called Nervi. Do you remember Nervi, Carmela? What do you remember about it?!?
So, we think Gavi is an underrated Italian white wine from an underrated area of Italy - at least underrated for the average tourist and wine drinker. It seems like everyone who talks about Italy always talks about Tuscany, and Tuscany is beautiful and wonderful and all that, but we just have to be honest that Tuscany is only one small part of many beautiful areas of Italy, and this is in part why we are doing these Italian wine adventures, because we think there are so many wonderful underrated parts of Italy that make wonderful wines that just not enough people know about.
So, we’ll learn a bit more about Gavi and taste and review three Gavi wines, which again should be relatively easy to find and also reasonably priced - and we’ll talk about it in just a few minutes . . .
But first . . . we have to do our shameless plug, right Carmela? If you are enjoying our show so far, and who wouldn’t be, why don’t you just go ahead and subscribe to our podcast, or leave us a nice a rating and review on our website on your podcast service so that people who might stumble upon us will say, hey, this looks like a podcast for me!
You can also follow us or reach out to us on Instagram at thewinepairpodcast or contact us on our website thewinepairpodcast.com.
And, as we do every week, we’ll tell you someone we think you should tell about The Wine Pair Podcast, and this week we think you should tell anyone who loves Italy but has never been anywhere outside of Tuscany or Rome.
ARTICLES and LINKS
Topic: What is Gavi? 08:20
So, let’s get back to Gavi - what do you say? Ok, again, we will remind you that Gavi is not the name of the grape, but rather the name of the region where this wine is from. It is one of the reasons why I think European wines can be so intimidating and difficult because US wines are named for the grapes in them - unless of course we are talking about blends, and then it is anyone’s game, and you are likely not to find out what grapes are in the wine.
The reason for this naming thing is really about legality. Do you know what I mean by that, Carmela? Why for instance, are you not supposed to call sparkling wines that are not from the Champagne region of France Champagne?
You are not allowed to call a wine a Chianti if it is not from Chianti - you call it a Sangiovese which is the name of the grape. And you can’t call a red wine a Burgundy if it is not from Burgundy - you call it a Pinot Noir, which again is the name of the grape.
And the same goes for lots of other wines including Gavi. If the wine is not from the Gavi region of Piedmont, Italy, you would call it a Cortese wine, because that is the name of the grape. But, we are betting that not only have you not heard of Gavi, you’ve probably never heard of Cortese. And that is a tragedy!
I got a lot of this information from a great article online from Wine Searcher that you can find a link to in our show notes for this episode, so head to our website to check it out so you don't have to memorize all this shit.
Cortese is a grape that is grown in other parts of Northern Italy and a tiny tiny bit is grown in the US and in Australia. And when we are talking about a tiny bit, we mean a tiny bit. So, one of the reasons why you have likely never heard of the grape or the wine - whether Cortese or Gavi - is because it is basically almost never grown outside of Italy.
Now, something like 90% of all Cortese wine is grown in Piedmont.
The wine that is made from Cortese grapes is generally considered to be very acidic - which we like because - why? Acidy wines go well with food, and we have said this before but in European countries like Italy wine is considered the fifth food group. The wine is supposed to be very crisp, with citrus qualities.
For a shortcut, if you like crisp white wines in a similar style to Sauvignon Blanc, you are probably going to really, really like this wine.
Now, for our friends out there in listening land who are not really acquainted with Italian wines, the wines of Piedmont called Barolo and Barbaresco, made from the Nebbiolo grape, are considered by many to be the best wines in Italy, and among the best wines in the world. Gavi is considered by many to be the best white wine made in Piedmont. So, this is a great white wine from one of the great wine regions of the world.
[And, just an editorial note that we often make - the best way to understand what kinds of wines you like and to build up your knowledge and palate is just to taste a whole bunch of different wines. If you always stick to just Cab Sauv and Chardonnay and Merlot and Sauv Blanc, you will really not be able to grow in your knowledge. Plus, it’s just fun! Take your own wine adventures!]
Just to be super clear, there are wines made from Cortese in Piedmont that are not called Gavi - because they are not from the Gavi region and are not made in the classic Gavi fashion.
What makes Gavi a little unique is that it must be made from 100% Cortese grapes. That is a bit unusual because in other wine regions they often allow a small amount of other grapes to be included in their wines. All of this means that wines made from Cortese in Gavi are going to taste a little different from other wines made from Cortese. Why is that? Terroir and purity of grape
Gavi is typically made in a fresh, still, and unoaked style, but producers are allowed to make Gavi in different styles: like frizzante, spumante, metodo classico and méthode ancestrale.
However, according to what I found on the interwebs, most producers maintain a conventional winemaking practice of temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel and make fresh, still whites.
Frizzante is semi-sparkling
Spumante is sweet sparkling wine
Another interesting fun fact: Cortese is a grape that is also used as a table grape in Italy, so that is also unusual. Do you know why? I did not know this, but table grapes are usually larger and thinner skinned than wine grapes, so a wine grape that is also a table grape is not very common. Evidently, Cortese has a thin skin, so that makes it ok to eat.
So, that’s a little background on this wine, and there are lots of good articles online you can find, and again we have lots of links in our show notes for this episode, but what do you say we talk a little about the wines we chose for this episode!
ARTICLES and LINKS
Gavi Wines We Chose for This Episode 16:17
I will say to our friends out there in listening land that even though you may not be familiar with Gavi, I know you can find these wines. For sure you can get them on wine.com, because that is where I got them, and I have seen at least one of these and several others at Total Wine, and we ordered some of these in restaurants in NYC. So, we are following our promise that these wines should be reasonably priced - all of the wines today are under $20 - and relatively easy to find, even if you can’t find them in your local grocery store.
The first wine we have is from a winemaker called Banfi. Banfi is a winemaker that you can find all over the place, and they are very famous for their Brunello di Montalcino. I won’t go into a ton of detail about them, but they were actually started in the late 1970’s by Italian-American brothers whose parents were wine importers and sellers in NYC. Today you can find wines with the Banfi name on it easily.
While Banfi is definitely more famous for their red wines, this white wine - which is called Banfi Principessa Gavia Gavi - has kind of a cool story behind its name. Do you want to hear a story?!? It’s a sweet little story.
Once upon a time, a princess named Gavia fell in love with a handsome guard in her father’s court. So, Gavia and the guard asked the king, the princesses’ father, for permission to marry, but the king refused. Afterall, she was a princess and he was merely a guard. So, the two of them ran away together and settled down in a small village on the other side of the alps.
They stayed there in secret for while, but one night, after having a bit too much to drink, the guard told the local innkeeper the story of him and the princess. Unfortunately, the innkeeper wasn’t very trustworthy, and he sent word to the king, and the king sent in guards to bring the couple back.
The couple were sure they were going to be thrown into prison, but, thankfully, the king saw his daughter and his heart melted and he forgave the princess and the guard. The king blessed their marriage, and the king gave them the town they ran away to as a gift. And, in honor of the princess, the town was renamed to Gavi, and so was the wine they drank. Which is a pretty weird wedding present. The End. How about that?!?
On the label of the wine is a portrait of Principessa Gavia, and again that is the name of the wine. It is 100% Cortese, and the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks.
The second wine is called Villa Sparina Gavi di Gavi that I believe is handled by a group called Ethica Wines. This wine comes in a very interestingly shaped bottle that evidently was inspired by an old bottle they found in the cellar of the estate. The wine we are having tonight is the 2020 which got a 91 rating from James Suckling. Oooooo. And, this a wine we ordered in NYC
This wine is also fermented for 3 weeks in stainless steel tanks, which is what I am assuming will be true for all of these wines. Without geeking out too much, some information I found on the interwebs says that all of the wines that Villa Sparina makes are produced from estate grown fruit and are estate bottled, and the vineyards are managed by a guy called Federico Curtaz who came from Gaja, which is a very famous Barolo and Barbaresco producer. Villa Sparina are also evidently trying to reduce yields so they can make wines with higher quality.
The last wine we are going to taste is called Enrico Serafino Grifo del Quartaro Gavi which has also gotten some good 90 and 91 ratings from Wine Enthusiast, Robert Parker, and James Suckling. Evidently the name Grifo del Quartaro refers to an antique coin used by Genovese Lords (from the city of Genoa that is not far from the village of Gavi), who were the vineyard land-owners of the Gavi area. That’s the only story I have for that wine.
Here is a fun fact for the wine geeks out there - Enrico Serafino comes from an estate owned by an American family named Krause that now also owns Vietti in Barolo. Vietti is a name you see all over the place for Piedmont wines - so if you trust Vietti, which I do, maybe you should trust these, but we’ll see.
The Enrico Serafino Gavi is also fermented in stainless steel, and then spends 3 months in the bottle before they release it, so these wines, like a lot of white wines, are fresh and meant to be drunk pretty young.
Well, I am ready to try these Gavi wines! What do you think?!?
ARTICLES and LINKS
Gavi wine pairing tasting and review 22:27
Wine: Banfi Principessa Gavia Gavi (Click here to buy this wine - affiliate link)
Region: Italy, Gavi Piedmont
What we tasted and smelled in this Gavi: Citrus, apple, orange, lime, pineapple, grapefruit, peach, pineapple juice, syrupy, bitter at the end, stone, sweetness in the mouth. Good outdoor drinking wine. Good everyday wine.
Food to pair with this Gavi: Fish, salmon, fish and chips, shrimp pasta, spaghetti with clams, veal cutlet / veal Milanese.
As a reminder on our rating scale, we rate on a scale of 1-10, where 7 and above means that we would buy it, and 4 and below means that we are likely to pour it down the sink, and in-between we are likely to drink it and finish it, but we are probably not going to buy it.
- Joe: 7/10
- Carmela: 8/10
Wine: Villa Sparina Gavi di Gavi (Click here to buy this wine - affiliate link)
Region: Italy, Gavi Piedmont
Producer: Villa Sparina, Ethica Wines
Professional Rating: JS 91
What we tasted and smelled in this Gavi: Peach, wax, apple, citrus, flowers, honey, vanilla, minerality, stone, earth, gravel, volcanic rock, rind of an orange or rind of a lime. More of a food wine, more complex. Super cool bottle, good gift wine.
Food to pair with this Gavi: Pizza, chicken, veal, pizza bianco, pasta with white cream sauce, squash gnocchi, bruschetti, garlic bread, pasta with pesto, cacio e pepe, aglio oglio.
- Joe: 8/10
- Carmela: 8/10
Wine: Enrico Serafino Grifo del Quartaro Gavi (Click here to buy this wine - affiliate link)
Region: Italy, Gavi Piedmont
Producer: Enrico Serafino
Professional Rating: RP 90, JS 90, WE 91
What we tasted and smelled in this Gavi: Smoke, glue, apple, citrus, sour, Sour Patch Kid, lemon juice, lime juice, a lime wedge, lime Gatorade, salt water. Very citrusy. Refreshing.
Food to pair with this Gavi: Spaghetti and clams, veal or chicken cutlet, pizza bianco, arugula salad with shaved parmesan.
- Joe: 6/10
- Carmela: 6/10
Which one of these are you finishing tonight?
- Carmela: Banfi Principessa Gavia
- Joe: Villa Sparina
Taste profiles expected from Gavi and Cortese based wines: 44:49
- Gavi and Cortese based wines taste profile
- Wine Folly: Meyer lemon, gala apple, honeydew, seashell, almond
- Wine Paradigm: Vivid and refreshing with delicate aromas of citrus fruits and roasted almond, followed by flavors of lemon, grapefruit, green apple, melon, pear and white peach, with a mineral edge and occasionally a creamy and nutty texture.
- Banfi Principessa
- From website: hints of lime, citrus and golden apple on the nose blend perfectly into an intense and fresh aroma. On the palate the softness is well balanced by a hint of acidity.
- LCBO wine shop website: This refreshing wine shows herbs, mineral and grapefruit notes.
- Wine.com: The bouquet is intense and fresh, with aromas of pineapple and green apple
- Villa Sparina
- Shelf talker: Bright yellow color, delicate bouquet of dried pineapple and peach. Full and rich in flavor, yet mineral and refreshing. Fine aromatic flavor to the end.
- James Suckling: Aromas of ripe, even cooked lemons, together with lime peel and wet stone. Medium-bodied with a lightly spicy touch to the palate and an intense finish
- Enrico Serafino Grifo del Quartaro Gavi
- Wine Enthusiast: This savory white opens with enticing scents of white spring flowers, white almond, botanical herbs and a whiff of bread dough. Smoothly textured, the tangy palate offers ripe white peach, lemon drop candy and a hint of bitter almond before finishing on a saline mineral note.
- Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): the bouquet is redolent of citrus, blanched almond, peach and summer dried hay. The Cortese grape always shows a tight mineral note that gives focus to these fun and informal results
Outro and how to find The Wine Pair Podcast 47:15
As always, thank you so very much for listening to us, The Wine Pair, and you know, while you’re thinking about it, we think you should subscribe and give us a nice rating!
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Thanks for listening to the Wine Pair podcast, and we will see you next time. And, as we say, life is short, so stop drinking shitty wine