The 50th Anniversary of Piedmontese Gavi DOC Marks its Golden Milestone

The year 2024 marked a significant milestone for Gavi, the esteemed DOCG wine from the province of Alessandria in Piedmont. It's the 50th anniversary of its Controlled Denomination of Origin (DOC) status that was officially granted in 1974 for its exceptional quality and representation of its unique terroir. This milestone not only highlighted the rich history and heritage of the craftsmanship Piedmontese winemaking but also underscored its enduring appeal and resilience in the face of evolving market dynamics.

"It is an important anniversary, a historic milestone: it rewards the long journey, the commitment and dedication of the producers who, together, have built the reputation of a wine now present in over 100 countries around the world," comments Maurizio Montobbio, president of the Consorzio Tutela del Gavi. Since its establishment in 1993, the Consortium has played a crucial role in safeguarding the integrity of the Gavi denomination, culminating in its elevation to DOCG status in 1998.

The past two decades have witnessed remarkable growth, with increases in vineyard area, bottle production, and export percentages. Despite challenges, including market fluctuations and excise duty hikes, Gavi maintains its stronghold in key markets like the UK, USA, and Germany. Montobbio emphasizes the Consortium's ongoing efforts to consolidate Gavi's market value and promote sustainability initiatives. Through precision agriculture projects and climate analysis, Gavi producers adapt to evolving environmental conditions while preserving the region's rich biodiversity. As Gavi celebrates its 50th anniversary, it reaffirms its legacy of excellence and commitment to a sustainable future.

Despite its acclaim on the international stage, Gavi remains relatively limited in its home country, with over 85% of production destined for export markets. Great Britain emerges as a key destination for Gavi exports, with nearly half of all exports directed towards this market. The United States and Germany follow closely, highlighting the wine's global appeal and widespread recognition among discerning consumers. Gavi's journey over the past five decades is a testament to its enduring legacy and unwavering commitment to quality. Looking ahead, the future of Gavi shines bright, guided by a rich tradition of excellence and a deep-rooted connection to its land.

A Celebration of Gavi in Rome

The event, held at Assunta Madre restaurant in Rome, showcased a handpicked assortment of excellent Gavi wines crafted by some of its producers. The twelve wines were paired with different courses of seafood dishes such as: eggplant roll with Provola, radicchio, Parmigiano Reggiano and prawns; mixed fried seafood; sautéed mussels; trofia pasta with sea bass and lemon; and the catch of the day in cooked in "guazetto", which attested to the diversity of Gavi wines and its qualitative capacity to complement diverse flavors and textures. Each bottle presented a unique expression showcasing its diversity, distinctive character and aromatic profile.

The Soils

With over 1600 hectares of Cortese vineyards in 11 municipalities of Alessandria province: Bosio; Carrosio; Capriata d’Orba; Francavilla Bisio; Gavi; Novi Ligure; Parodi Ligure; Pasturana; San Cristoforo; Serravalle Scrivia; and Tassarolo, Gavi stands as the epitome of pure Cortese expression. In this territory, in the southeast corner of Piedmont near the border with Genova, Cortese favors the exceptional geographical position where it has found its maximum expression.

The terroir of Gavi is defined by a harmonious interplay of environmental factors, including the convergence of sea winds from the Ligurian Sea and the influence of the Apennine snow. The region benefits from a moderate continental climate, characterized by cold winters and hot, windy summers, which, combined with varying altitudes, slopes, and exposures, contribute to the formation of its distinctive soils. At altitudes ranging from 180 to 450 meters above sea level, Gavi's terroir is geologically diverse, comprising three main soil types: Terre Rosse, Fascia Centrale, and Terre Bianche.

The northern Terre Rosse, with its predominantly clayey, iron-rich red soils, extends from the plains of Alessandria to the gently sloping hills. This area benefits from a warmer climate, resulting in wines with optimal body and structure. In the central Fascia Centrale region, characterized by alternating layers of marl and sandstone, soils are a mix of clay, sand, and pebbles, with contributions from river terraces, marine formations, and oceanic crust. Wines from this area exhibit a deep equilibrium between structure and flavor. Moving southwards, the Terre Bianche region features steeper slopes ascending towards the Apennines, with soils predominantly composed of marly tufaceous deposits rich in microelements and fossils. Despite the harsher climate and poorer soils, wines from this area are distinguished by their extreme finesse, delicate aromas, and pronounced minerality.

The Grape Variety Cortese

The Cortese grape, known for its vigorous growth and lush foliage, requires meticulous green pruning and positioning operations to withstand spring winds. Producing medium-large clusters of golden-yellow hue, Cortese ripens in late September, yielding generously. However, to ensure quality, selective thinning, targeted vine management, and minimally invasive soil cultivation practices are employed.

To ensure the exceptional quality of Gavi wine, strict regulations mandate low yields in the vineyards. For Tranquillo (still), Frizzante (fizzy), and Spumante (sparkling) Gavi types, yields are limited to 95 quintals per hectare, while the more prestigious Riserva type allows only 65 quintals per hectare. This restriction ensures concentrated flavors and optimal grape ripening. Additionally, the maximum yield of grapes in wine must never exceed 70%, maintaining the wine's integrity and quality standards throughout production.

Typologies of Gavi

The denomination recognizes four different types of Gavi: Tranquillo (still), Frizzante (fizzy), Spumante (sparkling), and Riserva. Each typology reflects the natural versatility and excellence of the Cortese grape. Representing the majority of production at approximately 99%, Gavi Tranquillo stands out as a dry and still wine with a straw yellow color and a minimum alcohol volume of 10.50%. While typically enjoyed in its youth, advancements in agronomic and cellar techniques are highlighting its potential for longevity. Gavi Frizzante, characterized by a fine and fleeting foam, shares the same minimum alcohol content of 10.50% as its tranquillo counterpart. 

Gavi Spumante, crafted mainly through the classic method, features fine and persistent bubbles and delicate floral aromas. Regulated to include a minimum of 6 months of yeast contact, this sparkling version maintains a minimum alcohol by volume of 10.50%. Reserved for aged Gavi wines, Gavi Riserva undergoes at least one year of refinement, with a minimum of 6 months spent in the bottle before release. With lower yields in the vineyard and specialized winemaking techniques, Gavi Riserva exhibits a golden color, enriched nose and palate, and enduring freshness, with a minimum alcohol by volume of 11.00%.

In the glass, Gavi displays a pale straw color with greenish reflections, boasting a distinct and delicate aroma characterized by fresh fruit and white flower notes, along with hints of citrus fruits and bitter almonds. With aging, Gavi develops mineral aromas and complexity, offering a dry, full, and pleasantly fresh palate with great elegance and finesse. The Riserva variation, distinguished by its deeper golden color, presents an enhanced nose and mouthfeel, enriched by tertiary aromas and enduring freshness, epitomizing Gavi's unmistakable charm and refinement.

*Photos of landscapes and Cortese grapes provided by PR of DOC Gavi.

Consorzio Tutela del Gavi