In the nearly two decades since we have been tasting Stefano Massone’s Gavis, Stefano has never failed to turn in a first rate performance. For starters, the 2017 vintage in Piemonte is shy on quantity but long on quality, so to no one’s surprise, Stefano’s 2017 La Giustiniana Lugarara Gavi del Comune di Gavi is truly exceptional, adding further testimony to Massone’s acumen with the delicate Cortese variety. The La Giustiniana Lugarara embodies all of Cortese’s finest attributes: charm, elegance, finesse, and laser-like precision. The 2017 La Giustiniana Lugarara Gavi del Comune di Gavi offers a beautiful straw-colored robe and a delicate perfume resplendent with the scents of pure freshly squeezed grapes, acacia and citrus blossoms, and plenty of juicy acidity in the form of lemon zest. Add a soft but refreshing mid palate and impeccable texture and balance that complements the wine’s racy finish and we bet you will find it hard to resist Stefano Massone’s latest single vineyard Gavi. By eschewing the use of oak barrel ageing in favor of highlighting Gavi’s natural attributes, the 2017 La Giustiniana Lugarara Gavi reveals Cortese’s delicate perfume, subtlety of flavor, and a crisp mineral-driven finish. For optimal enjoyment, we suggest giving this delightful Gavi a moderate chill (about 40º F) before allowing it to evolve slowly in the glass to reveal layered, nuanced flavors. And unlike lesser wines from Gavi, the 2017 La Giustiniana Lugarara Gavi will continue to mature and improve in bottle for two to three more years. Salute!
Given the supreme elegance and purity of the 2017 La Giustiniana Lugarara Gavi del Comune di Gavi, a clean glass and an ample supply of this wine may be all that are required for pure pleasure, which makes this Gavi an ideal choice to serve as an aperitif. Although often served as the prelude to a sumptuous meal, we would not relegate this elegant and refreshing Gavi to a single role; well prepared seafood and poultry dishes and an ample supply of the 2017 La Giustiniana Lugarara Gavi can guarantee an incomparable dining experience. Sautéed Sea Scallops, prepared in a cream sauce with unsalted pistachio nuts and Mediterranean herbs, is one of our favorite dishes to serve with Gavi. Pan Seared Red Snapper, Stuffed Flounder, and Sautéed Grouper provide delicious accompaniments to this wine as well. A simple Pasta Primavera, a delicately prepared Chicken Francese, and Alsatian-style quiches offer more choice companions to Stefano Massone’s exceptional La Giustiniana Lugarara Gavi. In addition, soft cow’s milk cheeses pair nicely with Gavi, too, as the Cortese grape possesses a true affinity for cow’s milk cheeses. Enjoy!
La Giustiniana is a very old property that lies among the foothills of the Italian Alps. Since 990 AD, Benedictine monks have prized this location for the cultivation of the vine. Today, La Giustiniana is in private hands and remains one of Gavi’s finest estates. Although small quantities of red and sparkling wines are produced at La Giustiniana, it is the estate’s single vineyard Gavis, such as Lugarara (this month’s feature), that garner international acclaim.
Stefano Massone, one of Gavi’s most prominent winemakers, oversees the production of La Giustiniana’s Lugarara Gavi. Stefano Massone has also crafted a model estate of his own in Gavi, and consistently from year to year Massone’s Gavis, La Giustiniana’s Lugarara included, rank among the most enjoyable white wines in all Piemonte. In addition to fashioning La Giustiniana’s Lugarara, Massone works 50 hectares of vineyards from which he fashions two more exceptional Gavis from single vineyards: Vignetti Masera and San Cristoforo Gavi di Gavi. La Giustiniana Lugarara Gavi is grown entirely within the commune of Gavi, hence the designation Gavi del Comune di Gavi. La Giustiniana Lugarara enjoys extended maturation on its lees, which accounts for the wine’s pronounced aroma, flavor and texture.
Stefano Massone is a rarity in Piedmont: he produces only white wine from one single grape varietal. He is a master with the delicate Cortese varietal, and for Stefano there are no compromises. Quality is paramount and his Gavis are farmed sustainably with minimal intervention. Furthermore, yields are kept very low to assure ripeness and sulfite usage is at a minimum. All of this care allows Massone himself to ferment Lugarara’s delicate golden clusters of Cortese di Gavi to perfection in his modern winery.
Gavi has been likened to white Burgundy, but the comparison does neither wine justice. At their best, Gavi and white Burgundy possess ripe, rich fruit, a clean mineral quality, and ideal balance, but Gavi will always remain a more delicate wine than white Burgundy. The Cortese varietal, from which authentic Gavi is born, coupled with the soil, climate, and ultimate terroir of the Gavi zone render a decidedly different wine from white Burgundy. Gavi will almost always be the lighter, drier, more ethereal wine, but none the less for the difference. True Gavi provides perfect balance, delicate fruit, and vibrant acidity, which makes it ideal as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to seafood and poultry.
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