The history of Gavi Wine

1 August 2023
Written by
Teresa Cremona

From its origins to its evolution

Gavi is a white wine that takes its name from the town of Gavi, in the province of Alessandria. It is also known as Cortese di Gavi, where Cortese is the name of the grape used to make the wine. The name of the Piedmontese town Gavi began to be associated with wine around the middle of the 20th century. According to legend, it was named after the princess of France, Gavia, at the end of the 6th century when she was trying to escape the French troops who had been ordered to take her back to her father Clodomiro, who was against the girl’s marriage to a brave knight. It was here where she found her refuge.

Awareness around the Cortese white grape began around the 18th century from a letter sent by the steward of the Montaldeo castle, in the province of Alessandria, addressed to Marquis Doria. Here, the reference is made to plots of land cultivated with the Cortese method. It seems that this grape variety was much appreciated at court and at the banquets of the noble families of the time. It was named Cortese as this word signifies cordial, affable, noble, kind, courteous indeed.

It also seems that this wine was not only particularly appreciated by the Doria family but also by the sailors of the Republic of Genoa. The latter played a fundamental role in the worldwide diffusion of the “Cortese di Gavi” thanks to their countless trade routes.

The denominations Gavi or Cortese di Gavi are reserved for those wines obtained from grapes coming only from the Cortese grapevine. Gavi DOCG can be produced in 11 different municipalities in the province of Alessandria: Bosio, Carrosio, Capriata d’Orba, Francavilla Bisio, Gavi, Novi Ligure, Parodi Ligure, Pasturana, San Cristoforo, Serravalle Scrivia, Tassarolo. Gavi DOCG can be produced in 5 different variants: still, Frizzante (gently sparkling), Spumante (fully sparkling), Riserva, Riserva Spumante Classic Method. Each of these show organoleptic characteristics, easily attributable to Gavi and the Cortese vine. Gavi DOCG is a fine, delicate, very elegant with a straw yellow colour, refined, fresh, with evident hints of fruit and flowers that make it extremely pleasant to the palate and a medium-low alcohol content designed to bring out the finesse, flavours and aromas. When served and enjoyed fresh, even at 9 degrees, it is great for an aperitivo and when served between 11 and 12 degrees it compliments fish, white meat dishes and starters.

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