2018 Villa Sparina Gavi 375 ml (half bottle)
There are a couple of wines that started my love affair with wine, and Gavi is one of them…
Down a dirty alleyway, inside a 12-seat Italian restaurant, out came a chef pouring glasses of Gavi. Crisp, refreshing, vibrant, chasing-the-blues-away good – Gavi.
I had no idea what it was, but no matter, its joie de vivre got to me.
Then he brought a portable burner tableside with a large block of Sicilian pink salt right on top of the flame. Once the salt was burning hot, he seared a tuna loin on it. Next came a splash of ultra-fresh olive oil, a squeeze of blood orange and Meyer lemon, and a dusting of shaved scallion. Voila! Straight onto the table for a family-style meal. And, of course, evermore Gavi.
The two combined – Gavi and salt-seared tuna – I can still taste to this day. And nothing I’ve had since duplicates the romantic interplay of those two ingredients. In fact, I have spent my life trying to duplicate it – seeking out the Gavi that made it so great. And I finally found it – Villa Sparina’s Gavi.
This Gavi opens with notes of red pears, followed by a sense of bracing refreshment, like cool mountain air running down a ski slope. There are deep layers of flavor and expression here, to a level that will leave you savoring it for 20 years or more, just as I have been.
The palate is full and luxurious with a fantastic combination of sea brine, lemon, hints of roasted hazelnuts, and savory herbs. It finishes with a return to green apple-tinged minerality, with a stunning length to the back of the palate. This is Villa Sparina’s plot of 100-year-old vines—some of the oldest in the region—and its concentration and power, balanced with elegance and finesse, is simply breathtaking.
Wine Spectator has compared Gavi to Chablis, but I don’t think that does Gavi justice. All of the dry concentrated minerality of Chablis is here, yet it is something entirely unto itself. Further, when I think of the best Grand Cru Chablis, from its finest producer, the price per bottle soars. Here is Gavi’s grand cru, from its greatest practitioner, at a price where I would almost be willing to serve it to my in-laws. Don’t miss this highly sought-after wine!
And yep – Villa Sparina bottles all of its Gavi in a custom bottle shape that comes from a 200-year-old bottle found at the winery. It looks a little like an old-time hand grenade. But this is a lot more fun!
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