Cascina Degli Ulivi "Semplicemente" Bianco 2021
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Direct Press Selection | October 2022
Thank goodness for Cortese, which is the one of the best sources for inexpensive, crisp, refreshing white wine in Northern Italy. Cortese was gaining renown as the grape behind Gavi in the middle of the 20th century, but quality went steeply downhill in the 1970s and 80s as worldwide demand was met by loosening the regional regulations around yields and borders, letting the market be flooded with industrially made plonk. Most of the Gavi I first encountered was about as exciting as a free bag of pretzels on a three hour flight.
Stefano Bellotti of Cascina degli Ulivi was a big advocate for the potential of Gavi and he also found a path to organic Biodynamic farming by 1985, making him one of the most visible figures in the early world of natural wine and Biodynamics. Since 2015 the Gavi DOCG has rejected Ulivi's Corteses because they are unfiltered and have more color than the filtered, sterilized Gavis that have come to dominate the style. In spite of this, the Ulivi wines are some of the few interesting examples of what Gavi could be.
'Semplicemente' is certainly rustic Cortese, bottled without sulfur under crown cap to prevent the cork from popping out — this is not too much of a concern these days, the wine is a little tamer and it's not too funky for most people. White flower, sea salt, and ginger, with a subtle spritz, it's such a satisfying wine to open before dinner and enjoy with anything from pasta to picnics to pork chops. Jonathan Kemp
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