Cortese: What art thou?

It sounds like a girls name, but in fact Cortese is another addition to your vast vocabulary of obscure Italian grape varieties. This is never going to be your next Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. It’s not a crowd pleaser in the way these noble grape varieties usually are. Cortese makes a curious wine for curious people, both of which we live for.

Mainly found in Piemonte, in the north west of Italy, Cortese makes delicate, light whites with soft and subtle fruity citrusy flavours. The better versions usually have some minerality and that nutty, savoury edge, but the wonderful acidity is the signature characteristic of most. The best expression of the grape comes from the Gavi zone, around the town of Gavi, in the south east of the province of Alessandria.

The 1960’s and 70’s saw great success for Gavi commercially, but as with many regions that enjoy such heightened popularity in a short space of time, prices rise and in some cases, quality dips, before consumers find the next ‘Cloudy Bay’ and move on. Since then, however, there has never been a better time to give Cortese another shot. You just need to know where to look.

A silver medal at the International Wine Challenge is another small step to putting Gavi back on the map. “Attractive light elegant. Complex herbaceous. Rich.” That’s what the judges had to say about Bricco dei Guazzi’s 2009 Gavi di Gavi. Music to the ears of Gavi producers, and curious wine drinkers alike.

The Bricco dei Guazzi range is on offer as part of the Italian sale (20% off) until the end of February.

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