We tasted: Gavi di Gavi £12 Marks and Spencer
Emma Says: “I have to confess Cortese, or “Gavi” as it is more commonly known, can be a bit of an insipid wine. The type of dry white that makes Andy wrinkle up his nose and say “it tastes wine-y”.
I sometimes wonder if it has reached so many lists in wine bars because “Gavi” has a nice ring to it, satisfyingly Italian and easy to pronounce. Perhaps it also gives the average Pinot Grigio lover something else to drink that is safely bone dry but not so characterful that it could be offensive. And given it has a more premium price tag than the average Italian Pinot Grigio you also get to feel a bit sophisticated.
To look at the other side of the argument, it could be that this delicate and faintly floral white was the type of white wine that would send me into a blind panic on my tasting exams. So I possibly hold a big grudge against it.
To give this poor grape a chance I chose a “Gavi di Gavi” tonight. That means the grapes come from the better slopes of the Gavi region that can only legally be called “Gavi di Gavi”. The remainder of the region is simply called Gavi. Yes, wine is confusing isn’t it.
I let the wine warm up a little which isn’t difficult in the current UK heatwave (It’s not a heatwave, it’s called ‘summer’ – Andy). Sometimes we chill these delicate whites to the bone and that mutes their light aromatics and flavour profile. I was pleased that it really did the trick. I could really detect a soft apricot note to the aroma and a gentle green tea herbal note with touches of honeysuckle. The palate had that pithy acidity that gives it that lean expression and the flavours were delicate on the fruit but with a pleasing mineral tension. It definitely worked as a thirst quencher for a hot summer’s day. I’m still not sure I find it exciting enough to be desperate for more. But on those nights where you just want something satisfyingly dry and white this would do the trick for me.
If you are a lover of these Northern Italian white styles I would urge you to seek out a few other grapes from those regions I find even more interesting than Cortese. Arneis from the same region has the same mineral edge but with a bit more richness on fruit and depth of flavour for me. I also love any white from the Collio region where they have gorgeous white blends and brilliant wines from Pinot Grigio, Fruilano and even Sauvignon Blanc. A rarity that I really enjoy is Manzoni which has heritage from Riesling and Pinot Bianco giving it a fascinating flavour profile.
On a final note the strength of acidity in grapes like Cortese make them great wines to drink alongside rich fatty foods but ones that aren’t too strong in flavour or they swamp the wine. For example a spring vegetable risotto, baked chicken breasts in white sauce or a pizza primavera.”
Andy says: “Well, this doesn’t taste wine-y.
I wish I could more eloquently describe what I mean by that. I just find that lots of white wine, and perhaps the ones at the cheaper end, all have a very similar ‘musty’ smell. This one doesn’t, in fact the first whiff I took was very fruity, tutti fruity in fact, melony pineappley chunks-y.
Unfortunately the taste doesn’t live up to the smell. There’s a hint of the fruit but at about 5% of the intensity of the smell. The real kicker though is that this really catches you at the back of the throat, like a rough whisky would. I don’t know if it’s acid or alcohol, probably acid. If I had to describe this in one word, it would be rough.
Edit: Tasting again 24 hours later, I’d like to revise down my acidity rating. It’s there, I feel it, but it’s not as high as I thought yesterday.”
Cortese is in fact that grape that makes the wine called Gavi; the wine name coming from the village in Piedmont, Italy rather than the grape. To try the very best version of Cortese look for wines labelled “Gavi di Gavi” which is a smaller sub region where the best vineyard sites are situated.