Cost: Average price $14
Where buy now: The Wine Thief $13.99
Region: Piedmont, Italy
I’m not a slacker. An imbiber, yes, but not a slacker. My day job event planning for a major non-profit in town kept me away from writing a red or white review last week. (Note: not drinking, just writing.) Please accept my heart-healthy apologies.
To make it up to you, let’s kick off the weekend with a white wine that is sure to tickle your fancy parts. This week’s white belongs to Cortese [kor TAY zay] di Gavi, aka “Gavi”. It’s a white wine produced in the Piedmont, North West region of Italy. Cortese grapes live along sloping vineyards close to Italy’s Ligurian region [Mediterranean Coastal area], where Genova resides (in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Well, he didn’t set sail from Genova, but Cristoforo Colombo was from this area)
Why does any of this matter? Because the grapes are going to get hit with wafting, salty seaside breezes influencing their flavor with hints of tartness and a slight dryness.
Don’t get turned off by what I just said, this is a terrific Summer wine that’s just begging to be paired with grilled fish, or my favorite, pesto. Think about it: wine that is made near the seaside is probably best had with frutta di mare (literally translated, fruit of the sea, or seafood). Plus, “real” pesto hails from Genova, so it’s not coincidentally, a perfect marriage.
This white wine is pale straw in color with scents of citrus fruits (think lemons & limes). It isn’t an overly fruity wine, but has a hint of minerality and mild acidic tartness that snaps back. Not strongly-just enough to give the wine some character. It’s lively but in a laid back sort of way. If you are a Pinot Grigio fan, give this a try and I think you may have a new favorite. It’s aged in stainless steel tanks which lends itself to a refreshingly smooth lemony taste and dare I say it transports you to the Mediterranean shores of Italy. I’m imagining laying out on one of those rented beach chaise lounges. Uninhibited, I take my top off and let the strong Mediterranean sun bake me golden. (Nevermind that I’m a shy, pale redhead; that sun would destroy me.)
So, let’s talk food pairing. I’d soooo dig this with sautéed calamari. Scusi in St. Paul has a nice dish of sautéed calamari that would pair well. This wine is so perfect for pasta with pesto, I cannot stand it. The lemony, refreshing dry-sweetness balances the smooth, herby, garlicy pesto sauce. Mmmmhmmmm.
If you don’t grow your own basil, SHAME ON YOU! But, perhaps I’ll forgive you if you pick some up this Spring and use it to make your own pesto. Throw it in ice cube trays and freeze it for a rainy day. It’s pretty easy and it tastes so much better than pesto from a jar. If you’re real short on time, though, I really like Pesto alla Genova carried at Lund’s & Byerly’s stores. It’s a teeny-tiny jar for a whole lot of money but often it’s on sale for $8.
Here’s the quick, down & dirty pesto method:
A couple BIG handfuls of fresh basil leaves
A handful of pine nuts, lightly toasted
A couple garlic cloves
A small hunk of Parmigiano cheese
Put it all in a blender and slowly drizzle in olive oil until you get a consistency you like.
Toss it over your favorite pasta and grate some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano on top. Pour yourself a glass of Gavi and you have a real meal. So simple, but the flavors will knock your socks off. No restaurant can give you that satisfaction, and we’ll just forget about last week.