Another Italian discovery has been a simpatico whistle-wetter for us these past two years: Davide Vignato’s brilliant Garganegas from the Gambellara DOC, neighboring Soave. Davide is one of a group of young men and women intent on transforming this small, sleepy, growing area of pergola-trained vines in basalt into a hotbed of organic agriculture and experimentation. Vignato has shown us how much potential this region holds, and his El Gian bottling is the perfect introduction to Davide’s style—crisp, crunchy minerality is the dominant theme.
This lovely Verdicchio has quickly become one of our favorite whites in the entire portfolio for its instant charm factor, lovely balance and versatility, and refreshing vigor. Discovering it has been kind of like discovering the reserve bottlings from Michel Brégeon in Muscadet . . . realizing how much more a grape can do than you ever thought it could. The flesh and brine of this maritime Italian white make me crave simple grilled fish with fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon.
This strain of Malvasia grows most successfully and abundantly in the northern Adriatic basin, between Venice and the Istrian peninsula of northern Croatia, from which the grape takes its name. It loves to be planted within view of the sea so that it can drink in its salty breezes. The limestone plateau of the Carso district, above Trieste in eastern Friuli, is the home of the Kante winery where this Malvasia is grown. Aromatically reminiscent of Friulano, with whispers of peach and apricot, it is soft and delicate and has a dry and cleansing finish. Planted here centuries ago, this grape remains today to slake the thirst of locals and visitors as it is served alongside fresh sea critters.
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