The Piedmont region of northwestern Italy is very well known for red wine, such as Barolo that is often considered Italy's finest wine. Today's wine is 100% Cortese, a white grape from part of the Piedmont situated fairly close to the Mediterranean. It was considered to be one of Italy's finest white wine way back in the 1970s. Gavi holds Italy's finest wine designation, DOCG, where the G stands for guaranteed. But this designation is no guarantee. Don't expect to get one of Italy's best whites, and organic to boot, at this relatively modest price.
Before reviewing this wine I want to mention a policy change. Starting now I will usually taste two wines with the same meals and cheese. One will be a $10 wine and the other will cost more, perhaps a lot more. My wine cabinet is brimming and this is the only way that I can manage to taste and review so many wines that interest me and hopefully you as well.
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.
Wine Reviewed La Raia Gavi DOCG 2007 12.8% alcohol about $17
Let's start by quoting the marketing materials. Description: La Raia has been certified organic since 2005 and certified biodynamic as of the 2007 vintage. It is one of only 23 wineries or vineyards in Italy that have obtained this certification. Their eco-friendly techniques result in a Gavi that is crisp and fresh with flavors that hold a strong connection to the land. Enjoy as an aperitif or with lighter seafood dishes. Our Quality Assurance Laboratory has determined that this wine contains 21 mg/L of free sulphur. And now for my review.
With the first sips the wine was slightly sweet and quite long. It was almost feathery. The first meal was a chicken leg baked in a soy, garlic, and black pepper sauce with potatoes and onions. There was a side of green beans in tomato sauce and another side of okra in a similar sauce that contained ginger. The wine enveloped the chicken and had no trouble cutting the grease. It was delicate but it was definitely present. The okra's ginger made it stronger.
The second meal started with Matjes herring. The Gavi was round with a touch of sweetness. With the omelet the wine was almost unctuous, and light but pleasant. But when paired with roasted, unskinned eggplant containing lots of oil and garlic, the wine was overwhelmed. It fought back by presenting notes of gooseberry. I finished the meal with a high-quality French style lemon pie with a buttery crust. The Gavi was fleeting and yet long.
The final meal was a vegetarian box called baked ziti siciliano containing eggplant and mozzarella cheese. I slathered on lots grated Parmesan cheese. The wine was feathery and yet crisp but didn't give a lot of flavor. If you like subtle wines you'll go for this one. I finished the meal with slices of fresh pineapple; perhaps surprisingly the wine picked up strength and was round. I tasted this wine with two cheeses; a marbled Cheddar and a sheep's milk Feta. The cheddar let the Gavi present its nuanced layers; the cheese served well as a foil. With the Feta the wine had a fine, fine length. I'm not used to such good wine and cheese pairings.
Final verdict. I'm on the borderline between never again, and I'll put this on my purchase again list. I guess that's because I'm not committed to organic wine and for me cheese pairings are quite secondary. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that a better producer would have made a fine wine. But then you would have to pay more.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but really prefers fine Italian or other wine, with good food and company. He loves teaching computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines and new sections writing about and tasting organic and kosher wines. His Italian travel website is www.travelitalytravel.com .