By Paul Caputo

For a long time Gavi enjoyed a reputation of being Piedmont’s best white wines. It was known for its light, crisp and refreshing style and was a welcome alternative in a sea of firm red wines. The late 1970s and 80s saw, like virtually everywhere else in Italy, producers increasing yields in pursuit of greater quantities, leading to a deluge of unremarkable wines.

Today Gavi has reclaimed its reputation as one of Italy’s great white wines however. A younger generation of producers live and breathe the notion that wine-making starts in the vineyards and this in turn has spurned a healthy scene of small production wines. Despite this, Gavi is not alone at the vanguard of fashion and must now compete with rapidly growing interest in local rare varieties, also laying claim to greatness, such as Timorasso, Nascetta and Arneis.

Gavi is produced exclusively from the Cortese grape around the village of Gavi in Piedmont’s Alessandria province. At its best the wines are dry and refreshing, with attractive floral notes that in the most complex examples extend into white peach and notes of stone fruit. The widely held view that these wines are best drunk young is still valid, although both La Scolca and Broglia produce some outstanding low production Gavi that sees an extended period of time on its lees before release. Cortese’s natural acidity does provide some ability to age, but in general they are best consumed within a few years of the vintage.