Gavi is a fresh and lively style of Italian white wine, known as Cortese di Gavi, produced in a restricted area of the Province of Alessandria, Piedmont, close to the Ligurian border. Cortese di Gavi is made from indigenous vines grown within the commune of Gavi, and can be labeled Gavi di Gavi.
The name derives from Gavi a small town at the centre of its production area, located about 100 km southeast of Turin, and Cortese, the local variety of grape from which it is exclusively made and whose existence is reported from the 17th century.
The current style of wine dates back to 1876, with the wine being awarded DOC status in 1974 and was made DOCG in 1998.
Wines made from Cortese (particularly those from the DOCG Gavi) have long been favoured by restaurants in the southern neighbouring port of Genoa as a wine pairing with the local seafood caught off the Ligurian coast. The wine's lively acidity and light, crisp flavours pair well with the delicate flavours of several fish. Cortese wines tend to be medium bodied with notes of limes and green apples and crisp pears. In vintages that are particularly cool, the wines can be assertive and lean but winemaking techniques such as malolactic fermentation and fermentation in oak barrels can temper this.
Cortese is widely cultivated in the Alessandria province of Piedmont where it is prized for its hardiness to grape diseases and ability to produce large crop yields as well as its high quality wine. There are significant plantings of the grape throughout southeastern Piedmont including the DOC wine producing areas of Colli Tortonesi and Cortese dell'Alto Monferrato located a few miles to the west of Gavi and of Monferrato Casalese Cortese which extends to the Basso Monferrato north of the Tanaro.
Despite this close proximity; Cortese has a significantly more difficult time fully ripening in Tortona and Monferrato than in Gavi. Gavi is best enjoyed young - it is usually at its peaks after a year, through to 3 and best matched with seafood cuisine during the heat of summer.