As spring really, really approaches (I think it's the real thing this time, we've had a lot of false starts this year), the Gavi di Gavi Il Poggio di Gavi 2012 is one of the first wines I'll be reaching for. Gavi, along with Soave, Orvieto, and Lambrusco, is one of those wines that got a bad rap in the 1970s and 1980s for being bland, insipid and made with a cynical sense of commerce. In the right hands, however, all those adjectives fall away, and we're left with what the wine was originally meant to be: a refreshing, bright, mineral-laden Piedmont white, made from 100 percent Cortese, with a hint of bitter almond. In short, Gavi is the perfect wine for spring.
I enjoy wines that display a textbook expression of the grape while still being exciting to drink. In the case of wines like Gavi and the others mentioned above, I try to choose wines that pleasantly surprise those who still believe the lingering stereotypes of the wine. In the case of Il Poggio di Gavi, we're talking about a third generation winemaker, Francesca Poggio, who carries on her grandfather's tradition of making serious Gavi from small yields, not the watery plonk that some might believe all Gavi to be. Often customers are resistant when I suggest a Gavi to them, but I notice that they usually come back for more of this one.
Think spring! Pasta with fresh peas and cream, red snapper simply dressed with good olive oil and a snip of herbs, chilled shellfish, a tian of green and yellow squash. This wine’s freshness matches the freshness of all that spring has to offer in the way of bright, neutral (barely citrusy) acidity, and a pleasant ping of bitter almond. It also makes a very fine aperitif. Start drinking it this year, and you might find yourself drinking Gavi all year round.