Monday, March 17, 2014

Going Italian At Whole Foods: Banfi Principessa Gavia, Gava

This month and next, Whole Foods Markets has the spotlight on Italian wines at great prices.  Get the details on the wines and the April virtual tasting event on Twitter here.  Today we sample one of those wines.

The Banfi wine empire began in 1978, when brothers John and Harry Mariani bought an 1860 winery and named it after an ancestor, Teodolinda Banfi.  According to the Banfi website, she had quite a life.  She was "adopted by the Ratti family of Milan [and] grew up alongside Cardinal Archbishop Achille Ratti who, in 1922, was elected Pope Pius XI.  Governess for the Archbishop of Milan, she also followed him to the Vatican, becoming the first lay woman to live within the walls of the Sistine Palace."  She is said to be cited in the Vatican archives as "diminutive in stature but with a big personality, wielding great authority, especially in the kitchen, and above all a great expert on wine."

Banfi's Prinipessa Gavia is made from 100% Cortese grapes, estate-grown in the Gavi region of Novi Ligure in the lower Piedmonte area.  It features a soft pressing of the fruit and stainless steel fermentation at low temperatures to maximize the crispness.  Partial malolactic fermentation means there is plenty of malic acid to give this food-friendly wine a lot of zip.  At 12.2% abv, the alcohol doesn't overwhelm.  It sells at Whole Foods Markets for $16.

It's almost clear, with just a faint yellow tint in the glass.  The nose is so expressive - bursting with flinty minerals and enough apple to keep the doctor away for several days.  The zippy palate is loaded with fresh citrus zing and minerality.  The wine finishes clean and refreshing, enough so that another sip is invited.

In the Twitter conversation, @DrinkWhatULike tweeted, "IMHO, Principessa Gavi could be used in wine class as great example of ‘chalk’ notes in a wine. Digging it."  @WineWonkette noted, "Principessa is crisp and reminds me of sunshine!"  @DeniseClarkeTX chimed in with, "I love that flinty characteristic...so awesome."  Yes, in fact, it is awesome.