Cortese is a green grape from Italy, which has its best expressions in wines from Gavi, a municipality in south-eastern Piedmont.
Cortese is a high acidity grape, with flavours of citrus, apple, peach and slightly almond. It is also recognised for being able to keep its high acidity levels even in warm climate conditions.
An important reason for finding Cortese’s nicest expressions in Gavi, can be that the grape works best with the growth conditions offered there, e.g. a calcareous clay soil, combined with marl, sand and silt.
In the Gavi / Cortese di Gavi DOCG (DOCG status in 1998), Cortese is commonly produced as a dry varietal (can be a Bianco or Riserva) or as a sparkling wine.
The sparkling versions are produced both as Spumante and as Riserva Spumante Metodo Classic. The DOCG rules require all four versions to be of one hundred percent of Cortese grapes.
Cortese is also used for production of dry and sparkling wines also in Pavia in Lombardy. In the Veneto region, the grape is used for blending with other green grapes.
Given its crispiness, Cortese is an excellent pairing to various kinds of sea food, shrimps, oysters, crab, lobster. The wine is best served at 8-10°C/46-50°F.
Where is it grown?
Cortese’s plantings in Italy are limited. With its 2.953 ha/7,297 ac it is the forty-first most planted grape in the country.
It is increasing in its heartland in south-eastern Piedmont but decreasing in for example Veneto.
No reports of plantings in other countries have been found.
As far as is known, Cortese is indigenous to its heartland in Alessandria in Piedmont’s southern part. Documentation of the variety goes back at least four hundred years.