Spending this winter in Liguria in NW Italy has been joyous for the ongoing experience of the local aperitivo. Social strictures that COVID places on us here mean that dining out in the evening is not an option. Bars and restaurants cease service at 6 pm sharp.
Thus we order wine by the glass from the list and await the series of small courses of food that accompany. I have been duly noting down the memorable taste sensations in order to attempt recreating them at home and that resurfaced on the eve of the La Scolca tasting evening.
Gavi has in previous years suffered as a consequence of its own success, much like its northerly cousin, Soave. With rampant sales in key markets, planting of the main grape variety, Cortese, expanded and thus watery wines emerged detracting from the quality and reputation of producers such as La Scolca.
LA SCOLCA & CORTESE DI GAVI
The Cortese grapes grow in limestone-rich soils, in an area that straddles both the southern edge of Piemonte and Liguria, where the temperate Mediterranean climate exerts influence. The Cortese grapes themselves are known to be fussy and not to ripen evenly.
All of this is especially interesting when we consider the considerable heights of quality and huge versatility in flavour and style that presented themselves with the wines tasted.
GAVI DOCG LA SCOLCA 2018
The first wine, the Scolca Gavi, had a bright citrus nose and tasted similarly citrus with fresh and crisp acidity. The finish was long and clean. This was the simplest in style of them all. A very pleasing seafood wine, especially with smoked salmon and goats cheese, or my favourite pasta dish, linguine vongole.
GAVI DEI GAVI® LA SCOLCA BLACK LABEL 2019
Gavi Dei Gavi®Black Label was granted a trademark on account of its location in the heart of the commune of Gavi and the Black Label became a recognisable symbol of quality. It is famous for being a benchmark by which to measure all others.
The Black Label has impressive structure and energy wrapped in soft ripe tropical flavours, with traces of walnut on the finish.
This is a star of a wine. We recreated the aperitivo course of fried polenta with gorgonzola sauce. Wow, they literally embraced each other on the palette and left indelible imprints upon my memory.
GAVI DEI GAVI® LA SCOLCA D’ANTAN® 2007
This was unexpected to say the least. Not all white wines age this well. Obviously, we know that Chardonnay can go the distance. In Portugal, in November 2019 I discovered the ageing potential of Encruzado in the under-appreciated Dao region. Now it is time for Cortese to pour forth from the bottle.
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Aged for around 10 years in steel tanks using indigenous yeast, the end result is a combination of preservation and development of character that captures the essence of what this often under-appreciated DOCG can show us.
The wine itself is an unassuming pale yellow and the ritual of bringing the glass to the nostril is rewarded plentifully. There is opulence and class to this aged wine that marks it out as special. It has layers of popcorn, nuttiness and exotic fruit aromas.
La Scolca D’Antan is rich to taste; all of the aromas transform into flavours to continue the experience. This is a fabulous demonstration of aged white wine that keeps revealing itself. We taste the artistry in D’Antan, it is an unforgettable wine, bravo.
Cheek to cheek: Piemonte and Liguria
Here in Liguria, with Piemonte on the doorstep, every meal is a mental and physical celebration that takes place in serene moments. Masks are suspended, glasses upended, with the next celebration, reliably, only a few hours of digestion away. These expressions of Gavi are now part of the experiential landscape.
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