Gavi di Gavi: Robert Downey Jr. of Wine Styles #WEDWA

28 May, 2018

This post is one of the final three entries chosen in our Emerging Drinks Writer Awards #WEDWA. Only the the main title above has been changed a little. Below is the article and title as it was submitted, with only spelling mistakes corrected. Photos are not included so as not to distrct from the writing. Read the other pieces here and here and help us chose! 

If Robert Downey Junior can do it, so can you: the reinvention of Gavi di Gavi

Recently in the UK, we were blessed with that most rare of gems: a sunny Bank Holiday weekend. The kind of sun that drives London’s population en masse to the nearest park, water’s edge or indeed any pub with a chink of outdoor space (and anyone outside London into their own back gardens because they don’t need to pay £6 a pint). A weekend spent outside, evidenced by the multitude of bright red faces and shoulders commuting to work the Monday after. Even the most misanthropic of us begin to consider a picnic in the park, or just sitting near an open window in your pants with a chilled glass.

On days like these the question often is, “What’s left in the supermarket?” rather than, “What’s best to drink?”. However, forgoing the pleasures of tinned G&Ts for one day (still one of the greatest culinary developments since the Viennetta), I propose the rehabilitation of Gavi di Gavi.

Gavi di Gavi is a white wine originating from the commune of Gavi, in Piedmont, the corner of north west Italy also known for producing the Nebbiolo triad: Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera. The cortese grape grown around Gavi is known for its high acidity and freshness and, although it can grow extremely well, is temperamental, being thin-skinned and requiring a fairly warm climate in which to ripen. Like any workhorse grape, its proclivity for growth in the past meant a loss of control over the yield, the produce as flavourless as it was prodigious. While a mainstay of wine bars and restaurant menus, Gavi is a wine which had to reinvent itself, after being thought of in a similar manner to that previously experienced by Chardonnay or Riesling. But, in the vein of Robert Downey Jr (and Britney Spears), you can’t keep a good grape down. Italian winemakers have sought to control harvests and channel the higher qualities of which these wines are capable. It no longer needs to be considered a bland or safe choice or join the ranks of the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) crew. Gavi has reasserted itself in the ranks of consistent, high quality wines.

What drove my thoughts to the delights of Gavi? Over the Bank Holiday, I sampled 2017 Gavi di Gavi, Bric Sassi, from winemaker Roberto Sarotto (£12.95, Berry Brothers & Rudd). From opening the bottle, peach and citrussy aromas pour out, which continue to surround your nose when swirling around a glass.  The sweet peachy smack sticks around the glass long after draining – suggesting that this wine can be safely lingered over through a lazy afternoon, without losing any of its flavourful punch.

You know how fruit tastes so much sweeter and flavoursome when you’re on holiday? This wine transports me to Italian vacations – on the Lakes having lunch in the sun, or in Rome eating bucketloads of fresh pasta with tomatoes. A pale, yellow-green tinged wine, it looks light but actual has some weight on the palette. Taste buds sparkle with the acidity of fresh melon, stone fruits and tingly-sweet pear drops. One of those wines which smells quite delicate but can still pack a punch (hence being more medium than light bodied), and a farewell lingering with tart peach and sweet honeydew. It’s surprisingly delicate, and one that doesn’t require a lot of thought at first sip, but rewards those who do take the time for careful consideration.

Roberto Sarotto’s Gavi is balanced and lively – when thinking about food matching, my first thought was to serve this as a well-chilled aperitif while waiting for the barbecue to fire up. Or, wrap it in a cold, damp towel, plonk in a bag alongside your sandwiches, crisps and dips, and find a spot in the park to enjoy with a good book. And if it’s raining by the time the weekend rolls around? Whip up a quick prawn linguine, close the curtains, and start Googling holiday inspiration.

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