Cortese vines have been grown continuously in the Piedmont region of Italy for several hundred years, and plenty of written evidence exists from the 17th century celebrating its finer qualities. Indeed, Cortese is the white Italian grape which is responsible for bringing most of the modern world’s attention to the white wines of the country from which it originates, thanks to its role in the beautifully crisp and citrus infused wines of Gavi. The wine is adored by Italian vintners for its ability to maintain a freshness and intense acidity, even when grown in particularly hot vintage years. At its best, it bursts with bright apple and peach flavors, and exudes fascinating herbal and grassy aromas which express the verdant hillsides on which it is grown.
Although the Cortese vine used to be popular with wineries due to the fact that it is a high-yielding, productive species, modern winemakers have to go to great lengths to ensure that yields are low, as it can easily lose a lot of its more interesting features during the ripening season. It is also susceptible to rot, due to the fact that it is a thin skinned grape. While Gavi is certainly the most famous example of Cortese wine, it is also produced extremely successfully in other regions, including Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato, and in certain Australian regions.