Showing posts with label Cortese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cortese. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Another Fine Italian White Wine - Gavi

California wine négociant Cameron Hughes owns no vineyards and has no official winery.  He sniffs out good wine which has already been produced by established makers, then buys it on the down low with an agreement not to reveal the source.  He then sells the wine online through his wine club - he calls it a wineocracy - bringing top-shelf wines to lower-shelf wallets.  Hughes says he keeps prices low by removing the middleman, the distributor and retailer through which store-bought wines must pass.

Lot 752 is a Gavi wine from northern Italy's Piemonte region.  The area centers around the commune of Gavi, in the province of Alessandria, quite near the border with Liguria.  Hughes says "Chablis and Pinot Grigio drinkers will love" this wine, made from the Cortese grape, vinified to 12% abv and selling for $15.  He says the wine has been made the same way for nearly two and a half centuries.

This pale wine has an explosive nose which jumps up from the glass.  Aromas of minerals are here - lemon, orange peel, apricot, wet sidewalk, along with a floral aspect.  There is a pale, yellowish tint to it in the glass.  The palate shows citrus and salinity, with a mighty fine streak of acidity racing through it.  Pair it with shrimp, crab or any kind of seafood, really.  Delightful.


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.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Castellari Bergaglio Fornaci Gavi 2008

It seems a shame sometimes to just write about wine, when the food so often steals the show.  That was the case at the great Los Angeles Italian restaurant, Locanda Veneta.  My wife will tell you that I wear out the phrase "this may be the best ever," but it was impossible to stifle it at this lunch.

I opened with grilled calamari, spicy enough for me to wave off the offer of fresh ground pepper.  The grill flavor permeated the squid and the portion would have been sufficient for lunch, had I not also ordered the porchetta - stuffed with fennel sausage and served in a confit of onion.  Was it the best ever?  I'm saying "yes."

The wine was great, too.  It may not be a list-topper, but it's right up my alley.  The Gavi region in located within Piemonte, and wine production there dates back a millennium.  The white grape Cortese - the grape from which this wine is made - has no recorded history there until the mid-1600s.  It is usually fermented in steel and consumed quite young, but this one - four years old - showed some fairly complex aromas and flavors.  those who know Gavi better than I do say you should cellar it for a while before enjoying it.

Produced by Castellari Bergaglio, the Fornaci Gavi shows no trace of oak, in fact it's as steely as a white can get.  The golden hue belies the mineral-driven nose, although after a bit of warming, herbal notes start to appear that we're not apparent upon pouring.

On the palate is a savory note coming through the curtain of minerality.  Notes of tart apples and a hint of pineapple also find their way to my taste buds, but the minerals define this wine.

Was it the best ever?  Maybe not.  But like a good Italian wine should, it served as the perfect complement for this meal.



Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Monday, May 21, 2012

Italian Wine: Viva Vino Los Angeles 2012


The week-long festivities for Viva Vino Los Angeles 2012 peaked in the middle, with the mid-week grand tasting event on May 16th at The Mark For Events.

Hundreds of Italian wines were poured, from producers large and small.  Assuming you love Italian wines, it was a chance to wallow in them to your heart’s contento.  If nothing else, you could add a few grapes to your Century Club efforts - quite a few.  There were grapes like Cortese, Grechetto, Corvina, Rondinella, Turbiana, Malinara, Teroldego - and those are from just the first two tables at which I stopped.  If you are new to Italian wines, I apologize in advance for the extreme grape geekiness you are about to encounter.  If you have not sampled these wonders, though, you really owe it to yourself to do so.

Notable Wines:

The white wines at Viva Vino were simply outstanding.  From table to table, one white after another impressed with acidity and minerality.  Green apples here, a touch of lime there, but nearly all the whites I tasted were driven by extreme minerality, laced with bracing acidity and just waiting for a meal to come along.

The most impressive wines of the day, for me, were from La Castellada in Oslavia.  Winemaker Stefano Bensa (right) was on hand to guide me through three scintillating whites.  The 2007 Friuliano, 2006 Ribolla Gialla and 2002 Bianco Della Castellada are among the best wines I’ve had in a while.  They all spend four days on skins, a year in oak, a year in the tank and a year in the bottle.  Bensa told me they are produced as naturally as possible, from low-yield vineyards.  The intensity and complexity of these wines is mind-blowing and they are definitely age-worthy.

Also in Oslavia, Robert Fiegl is producing three exceptional DOC Collio wines - a savory Ribolla Gialla, a playful Pinot Grigio and a pungent Sauvignon Blanc.

A lovely Gavi, La Maddalena Gavi DOCG 2009, from Cantina Produttori di Gavi in Piemonte, is produced from 100% Cortese grapes.  It has beautiful acidity and the taste of green apples.  It’s a completely refreshing wine.

Tuscany’s Robert Pitti Vermentino Bianco Toscano IGT 2010 slathers the minerals  in a nice salinity.  The palate is savory and the acidity lingers on the finish.

Terre de la Custodia is owned by the Farchioni family in Umbria.  Their 100% Grechetto Colli Martani DOC 2009 is savory and mineral driven.

Gruppo Montresor showed a Pinot Grigio Veneto IGP, Pinot Grigio Marche IGP Brumaio Organic and Lugana DOC Gran Guardia, which is 100% Turbiana.  All three display nice acidity and savory minerality.

Sicily’s Donnafugata presented two wines produced with 100% Zibibbo grapes, a clone of Muscat of Alexandria.  The grapes are dried on the winery rooftop before fermentation, which steps up the concentration of aromas and flavors.  The raisiny sweetness is abetted by bracing acidity.

From the Friuli hill country comes Vidussi.  The Malvasia Vidussi DOC 2011 is one of the few wines I sampled which showed a blast of fruit and flowers on the nose, rather than rocky minerality.  Unoaked, the wine still plays richly on the palate.  Their Ronchi di Ravez Bianco Collio DOC 2011 combines four grapes - Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Istriana, Friuliano and Picolit.  There is plenty of earthy fruit after spending three months in a large cask.

Also from Friuli, Valter Ciani was represented by sons Alessandro and Andre.  The pair poured five outstanding white varietal wines - Friuliano, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and  a Prosecco - which they told me wholesale for around four dollars per bottle.  They are looking for someone to import these wines, and they would seem to be a great addition to some distributor’s portfolio.  Contact them at andre@viniciani.it.

Distinctive Reds:

Tuscany’s Palagetto poured their Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2004.  This is the way you want your Sangiovese to taste.  Beautiful, earthy cherries and plums are framed by firm tannins.

Terre de la Custodia is owned by the Farchioni family in Umbria. Their Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2005 has great acidity, tannins and very dry, raisiny, cherry notes.

Gruppo Montresor poured Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC Classico Capitel Della Crosara.  A blend of 60% Corvina, 30% Rondinella and 10% Molinara, it has great tannins, acidity and a raisiny edge to the fruit.

From Veneto, Masi showed their prowess with Amarone.  The Costasera Amarone Della Valpolicella Classic DOC 2007 has fabulous acidity and the trademark dried fruit and raisins on the palate.

Conti Wallenburg’s Trentino Teroldego Rotaliano DOC 2011 is composed entirely of the Teroldego Rotaliano grape.  It shows rich, ripe cherry and a dash of tartness, along with great acidity.  With only two months in oak, it’s fresh and vibrant.

Trentino-Alto Adige’s Barone Fini Merlot 2010 is enjoyed at the Vatican, I’m told.  The importer’s representative said the earthy fruit and nearly toothless tannins make it “one of the only reds the older Cardinals can handle.”

Tuscany’s Castello di Monastero Chianti Classico 2007, on the other hand, sports big tannins and smoke-cloaked fruit.

Sicily’s Villa Pozzi Nero d’Avola is earthy and quite smooth, while Umbria’s Moretti Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007 has tannins in play, but they are not overwhelming.  20% of these grapes are pressed by foot - stompin’ it old-school.

From Basilicata, in southern Italy, D’Angelo’s Aglianico del Vulture DOC 2008 is big and brawny.  Their Riserva is a much smoother version.

Sparkling:

Bubbles were provided by Gatta Winemakers’ sparklers, produced in the Champagne method in the Lombardia region.  Their Brut Franciacorta DOCG, 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Nero, bubbles up nicely and shows a sweet edge to the fantastic acidity.  Zero Franciacorta DOCG is 100% Pinot Nero, and offers a toastier nose.

Conti Wallenburg poured a Trentino sparkler, Rosé Costantinopoli.  It is 100% Pinot Nero and has a fabulously funky nose with mineral-driven strawberry flavors.

Food:

I have to give a shout out to a really tasty discovery - Italian Magic Olives.  These gourmet stuffed olives are really something to sign up for.  They appear to come from Gardena, California via Chicago.  That’s the gist of what the very Italian representative told me.  One winery rep had a bowl full of them delivered to him by a very attractive young woman.  I told him she must like him a lot, and he raised an eyebrow and asked how I knew.  I said that if she didn’t like him, she would have kept those olives for herself.

Objets d’art:

There were some arty, one-of-a-kind wine gift bags designed by Caroline Hallak of Beverly Hills on display during the event.  No prices are given online, but I’m told the bags go for between $14 and $19 each.  She’s open by appointment only, due to the exclusive nature of her clientele.  It’s a lot to pay for a wine gift bag, so make sure the wine you’re gifting is worth putting in a designer tote.

There were some paintings on display as well, from wine artist Elisabetta Rogai.  She paints with wine, or at least with paints made from wine.  Her work is worth a look.  Hopefully it ages like wine, and not like Dorian Gray.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter