Showing posts with label Gavi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gavi. Show all posts

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 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.

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Monday, June 27, 2011


Enoteca Drago trio

Recently, my wife had a hair appointment in Beverly Hills, followed immediately by a girlfriend lunch, also in Beverly Hills.  I dropped her off and ran a few errands, but still had a lot of time to kill in Beverly Hills.  I turned to the wine.

I had been meaning to explore few wine-oriented places in the Hills of Beverly for quite some time, and this sunny Saturday afternoon seemed perfectly suited to the occasion.

It was around noon - okay, it was 11:32 - when I walked into Enoteca Drago on Cañon Drive.  There are, maybe, a dozen Italian restaurants in Beverly Hills.  About 11 of them are owned and operated by the Drago family.  That’s alright by me, as I always have wonderful food and a thoughtful wine list at a Drago restaurant.

Enoteca is even more focused on wine than the other family locations, since it is a wine bar.  The menu offers 11 different flights of wine in the $15 - $20 range, while single glasses are in the $9 - $23 neighborhood.  The wine list has lots of variety, including late harvest selections, Ports and Grappa choices, too.  There’s also a complete menu of Italian fare to pair with the wines.

I chose a flight of three medium-bodied, semi-aromatic white wines for $17.  Included in the flight were the following wines, with my tasting notes:

flight with foodGreco di Tufo, Terradora DiPaolo, Campania 2010 -
Richest color of the trio. Apricot and ocean on the nose, golden apples with a hint of honey on the palate.  Minerals abound, great finish.  Greco is an Italian grape, thought to be of Greek origin.

Sauvignon Blanc, Joel Gott, Napa Valley 2010
Palest of the three, almost clear.  Grassy and fruity notes make up the nose, with melon and herbal notes present. Peach and apple cobbler flavors are on the palate.  The cobbler is a complete surprise, but it works.

Gavi, Villa Sparina,  Piemonte 2010
Medium straw in color the light nose is very hard to pick up.  What is that lovely taste?  It seems like cantaloupe or honeydew.  There’s a lot of minerality, too.  Wine from Gavi area of Piemonte is made exclusively of the Cortese grape.

I ordered the calamari alla griglia with this flight.  All three wines pair well with the calamari, the Gavi matches it the best.  The Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc went best with the rapini.  By the way, when grilled calamari is offered, it should always have the grill marks on it.  It does at Enoteca Drago.

After checking in with the wife and friend at Cafe Roma (oddly enough, not a Drago restaurant) I was invited to go away a while longer, as the chatting got out of hand.

Italian Chiretto style roseJust up the street is Il Pastaio.  Yes, it’s another Drago restaurant.  This place looked really busy and festive at 1:00 or so Saturday.  As I approached, a guy in a big, white Cadillac pulled up, with Italian music blaring at festival volume from his car stereo.  As he made the corner, with the window down, he looked over at the sidewalk lunchers and led with his finger to the music.

The mobile maestro was obviously enjoying the moment to share his passion, and I overheard a guest comment, “Wow, that’s real.”  Indeed.  I stepped inside and took a seat at the bar.

I only examined the wine list for rosé, as that’s what I really wanted.  The Chiaretto Provenza is $10.50 by the glass.

Made with Groppello, Marzemino, Sangiovese and Barbera grapes, the wine hails from the area near Lake Garda in the northern part of Italy.  The winery, Azienda Agricola Provenza, is located in the Lombardy region.  Lake Garda has a special microclimate in which palm, olive and lemon trees thrive practically at the foot of the Alps.

The wine is a nice, rich, salmon color and the ice cold status at which it’s served makes it a little hard to discern too much on the nose.  The palate shows bright cherry and strawberry fruit with a hint of raspberry tartness.  The wine is dry and crisp - very refreshing.  The finish is good, and minerals are the last thing remembered after the sip is gone.