Fontanafredda Gavi di Gavi 2015
Excellent as an aperitif, and delicious with hors-d'oeuvres, fish and shellfish dishes.
Since 1878, the Fontanafredda Estate & Winery, located in the heart of Piedmont’s Langhe region, has been a benchmark producer of Barolo and Barbera, crafting wines that deftly balance deep aromas and concentration of fruit with elegance.
The history of Fontanafredda is a noble one. It began in 1858 after the unification of Italy, when the country’s first king, Vittorio Emanuele II, purchased this beautiful estate in Piedmont’s Langhe region. Here he started producing wine from native varietals, Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo, which later developed into a commercial business under the direction of the King’s son, Count Mirafiori. Fontanafredda released their first Nebbiolo labeled as Barolo with the 1878 vintage.
The 250-acre Fontanafredda Barolo cru property in Serralunga d’Alba is the single largest contiguous wine estate in the Langhe. Additional properties in the communes of Barolo and Diano d’Alba bring the total acreage of estate-owned land to 305. The ability to source fruit from some of the Barolo region’s most prized vineyard sites provides Fontanafredda with grapes of the highest quality. There are two main soil types that cover Barolo: Tortonian in the western region that is heavy in clay and magnesium deposits. Wines grown in this soil tends to be more fragrant, elegant and soft, but with notable richness. In eastern Barolo, the chalky, limestone and mineral rich Helvetian soil produces wines of deeper color, body and tannic structure, making for long-lived wines.
Fontanafredda owners Oscar Farinetti and business partner Luca Baffigo Filangieri - founders of the famous EATALY concepts in Italy, Japan and New York - have provided full support to a series of initiatives that started in 1999 by winemaker Danilo Drocco and viticulturist Alberto Grasso. These initiatives involve changes in both the winery and the vineyards that aim to increase the quality of the wines and ensure greater sustainability measures. Drocco and Grasso guide the winery and estate with a philosophy of ecological responsibility and future sustainability. All estate vineyards are managed to achieve a “zero chemical” program, using only natural methods for fertilization and pest control. The vineyard team is working with their grower partners across the region to transition them to the same eco-friendly farming standards. The Fontanafredda estate operates as a refuge for a wide array of local flora and fauna.
Among Piedmont’s most historical and respected white wine producing zones, Gavi—also known as Gavi di Gavi and Cortese di Gavi—comes from Piedmont's southeast, in the province of Alessandria. Gavi is the main town of the area; Cortese is the grape. Cortese for Gavi is grown in any of 11 communes in the area where the soils are abundant in chalky, white, limestone-rich clay. The best Gavi from these locations are delicately floral, with stone fruit and citrus characters and a crisp, mineral-laden finish.
While typically made in a fresh and unoaked style, by law Gavi can come in many forms: frizzante, spumante, metodo classico and méthode ancestrale. But most producers maintain a conventional winemaking practice of temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel and make fresh, still whites. However, there are several barrique-aged examples, which can be interesting. The biodynamic wines of Gavi, fermented with ambient yeasts can be the most expressive.
Cortese was first recorded in the early 17th century at the far southeastern corner of Piedmont, in the province of Alessandria and today has no known relatives. It is most highly regarded here, in Gavi, and thus is often referred to simply as "Gavi." Cortese also grows well in the surrounding parts of Piedmont: Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato a few miles west of Gavi and just over a few hills to the east, in the Colli Tortonesi. But there Cortese doesn’t always achieve the ripeness, or get the winemaking proficiency that it does when grown on the limestone-rich soils of Gavi. While some renowned Barolo producers produce stellar Gavi, such as Michele Chiarlo and Pio Cesare, the region has no shortage of its own dedicated producers.
Because of its freshness and chalky minerality, this white wine commonly populates the fish restaurants’ wine lists of the Ligurian coast.