Stefano Massone has crafted a model estate in Gavi, which is unequivocally the finest white wine zone in Italy’s Piedmont. Massone works a mere 8 hectares (or just a little less than 18 acres) from which he fashions two exceptional Gavis from two special vineyards: Vigneto Masera and San Cristoforo. Located in Capriata d’Orba in the southeastern section of the Gavi DOC, Massone’s vineyards enjoy prime southern exposures.
Stefano Massone is a rarity in Piedmont: he produces only white wine and from a single grape varietal. At his estate, the blithe Cortese varietal rules, and there are no compromises or cut corners. Quality is paramount. Consequently, the estate’s Masera and Cristoforo vineyards are farmed organically. There are no herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, or systemic chemicals used in the vineyards. The rows of vines are sown with ground cover, which is either tilled or mown to turn to humus in alternating fashion. 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 the delicate golden clusters of Cortese di Gavi to perfection in his modern winery.
In the north of Italy, nestled just beneath the great Alpine wall as it tumbles out of Switzerland and the gleaming Mediterranean Sea, lies Piemonte, Italy’s Piedmont. It is a region of myriad beauty. It is also the region of Italy closest to France in proximity as well as in the sheer quality and variety of exceptional wines it produces. For centuries, Italy’s Piedmont remained a prize to be won among warring European powers, no doubt at least in part on account of the province’s world famous cuisine that still draws happily on the abundance and quality of local truffles. Yet today, it is the superbly made wines of Italy’s Piedmont that garner the most international recognition: complex, hedonistic red wines, still delicate whites such as Gavi, and sweet haunting Muscats. With such exquisite fare, should anyone question why the wines of the Piedmont and the hearty robust delights of the Piedmontese table remain the region’s most famous ambassadors to a hungry and thirsty world?
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 and similarly styled Chardonnay wines. Gavi will almost always be the lighter, drier, more ethereal wine, but none the less for the difference. True Gavi provides perfect balance, delicious fruit, and vibrant acidity, which makes it ideal as an aperitif.