By Paul Caputo

Cortese has long been grown in the North West of Italy. In Piedmont it achieved fame during the 1960s in the village of Gavi, where it made elegant, mineral wines with structure and an affinity to food. Like with many Italian white varieties, the commercial culture of 1980s saw yields rise and quality drop.

Today Cortese is still capable of making brilliant wines, most notably in Gavi. There is no shortage of top producers crafting fine, boutique mono varietal expressions of the grape. Sadly, there are still plenty of disappointing examples also. The best advice is to stick to top producers. Those wines hailing from Gavi’s classified ‘cru’ sub zone of Rovereto are also a trustworthy marker of quality.

Elsewhere in Piedmont, Cortese can be found in Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato DOC and Colli Tortonesi DOC. It is also found in Lombardia, in the Oltrepo Pavese DOC, as well as in Veneto.