La Scolca wines from Piedmont are preparing for the next sustainable decade
Gavi wines from Piedmont are among the most popular Italian white wines on the world market. The DOCG Gavi di Gavi, made from Cortese grapes, has been transformed into a Gavi dei Gavi® brand wine and the company’s best-known label is La Scolca, made from vineyards with 60-year-old vines on five generations. I interviewed Chiara Soldati, winemaker in the family cellar Soldati La Scolca about the current state of Gavi.
Give me an idea of when Gavi gained such ground in the global market.
Gavi wine obtained the DOC in 1974 and the DOCG (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée et Garantie) in 1998. Years before the DOC Gavi, La Scolca produced this grape of the best quality and made it a great wine: Gavi dei Gavi , a trademark registered in Europe since 1969 and in the United States since 1971, better known under the name of “Black Label”. La Scolca was born over a century ago. At first the main business was not winemaking, but later it became the core business, after WWII when our family decided to label and sell the Gavi wine they had. originally invented and produced for family use.
When was it introduced to the United States?
Gavi is the name of a village in the Apennines, located on the border between Piedmont and Liguria. The famous dry white wine takes its name from the village because La Scolca began production of Gavi over 100 years ago. The Black Label was introduced to the US market with the help of Mario Soldati, a cousin of the family. He was an Italian writer and director who promoted Italian culture and cuisine around the world. In the 60s he was the promoter of the Italian concept of La Dolce Vita, helping La Scolca Black Label to become the symbol of Italian culinary culture abroad.
When did La Scolca enter the market and how does it differ from the others that then flood the market?
Much time has passed since 1919, when the founder of the Soldati family decided to buy what was originally a hunting estate, with large wooded estates in which there were also fruit vines. red. The family however preferred white wines and sparkling wines, mainly from France, and from there was born the idea to pull up the red grapes and plant Cortese, in order to create a wine that could be as close as possible to Chablis. and, later, to make it sparkle.
Before that, we sold our wines to Martini and Cinzano, who used them as a basis for sparkling wine. In particular, our Cortese was one of the most important wines in the assembly of Riserva Montelera. All grapes have a place where they give the best of themselves. Some manage to express their full potential in one place: where the vines find the most suitable soil, climate, altitude and exposure. Only there and nowhere else. The Cortese grapes from the Gavi region, near Novi Ligure, produce a wine with an aristocratic personality, mineral and intense, durable and elegant. And, within the municipality of Gavi, the best results are obtained in the district of Rovereto. If we classify the region, as we do in France, Rovereto di Gavi would undoubtedly be the “Gran Cru de Cortese”.
The company still follows the same principle: a great wine is born in the vineyard. An important factor is the clay soil where the vines grow, which can be 60 years old. This is the philosophy of production: to obtain excellent wine, you need excellent grapes. The harvest takes place when the grapes are perfectly ripe, generally earlier than the average for the region.
What is new and innovative about the cellar?
For La Scolca, sustainability is not a fad but a value written in our DNA. La Scolca is not only a family brand, but also an important cultural heritage and values to be transmitted to future generations with the commitment to preserve, improve, always respecting the gift of the balance of nature. in a modern and current way, but with deep and ancient roots. I represent the fourth generation of the family in the company and I pay constant attention to contemporary values of sustainability and digital innovation. For example, the new cellar introduces important innovations: tanks with better and more efficient air conditioning to improve fermentation, refrigeration units more respectful of the environment, as well as a filtration device which, thanks to its extreme efficiency, reduces the environmental impact of the installations. to the bare minimum. La Scolca’s award-winning winemaking technology remains unchanged, but the equipment has been modernized and energy-saving measures have been introduced to reduce the environmental impact. A special processing technique, called in France on lie, keeps the yeasts in suspension until bottling. This technique, if properly carried out, allows minimal use of sulphites, which is beneficial for the health of the consumer.
How has climate change affected the region?
The climate change in a territory of white wines with an average altitude of around 300 meters (around 1000 feet) has been felt especially during the period of ripening of the vines, usually La Scolca harvest after mid-August but in recent years warming temperatures have delayed harvest time by about two weeks. Fundamental for the development of the grapes is the day / night temperature range, which is always maintained at excellent levels.
How has the Covid affected the region?
Doing business in the tough times of Covid-19 isn’t easy; it’s a big push to rethink our business in order to improve ourselves as people and as entrepreneurs. Many wineries have invested in online distribution through e-commerce. An online market is an interesting tool for permanent contact with wine lovers and the public; at the same time, however, it is necessary to support the hospitality industry which, over the years, has built the success of Italian wine in our country and in the world. This is why, as a company, we wanted to invest in a new e-commerce channel for our wine lovers and at the same time assert our presence alongside those who, every day, sell and promote our product.
My thoughts have been with our agents, our restaurant and wine merchant friends, our hoteliers, on how to work together and find support strategies as soon as the confinement is over. These actions are the concrete response to safeguard the present and build the future, avoiding the total and irreparable collapse of the entire sector. We work as a team and only together can we truly succeed in creating a great Italian future after this global pandemic.
For many hospitality professionals, the losses will not be offset by growth in home and online consumption, and it will take years to recover. Within the EU, the hospitality sector has experienced a loss of around 35% in volume and 50% in value for wine. The worlds of wine and catering are called upon to undergo profound changes, grappling with the need to react to the financial crisis and at the same time they must defend themselves from speculation: forecasts envisage a drop in global consumption, and a reduction in average prices, and therefore in sales and turnover margins. This will have a direct impact on farmers and producers of wine and grapes.
We continue to invest in production and we will not give in to speculation. It is fundamental to maintain jobs, excellence and to support “rural business”, especially now that the company is entering its 5th generation. It is precisely for this reason that we are also thinking about strategies and products that look to the future and the generation of millennials.
What are the best foods to go with Gavi?
The Black Label has the maximum quality obtainable as manifested by the fragrance and flavor of life. It has an intense character but is harmonious and balanced, offering surprising freshness and integrity. Notes of flint, almond and hazelnut will develop over time, which works wonders for food and wine pairings.
Personally, I like to pair Gavi with oysters, sushi, or caviar, but the most notable (and best) regional pairing might be seafood and stuffed peppers. Peppers are baked for 35-40 minutes, peeled, then stuffed with a sauce made from tuna, white wine, butter, parsley. The delicate flavors of the grape blend well with the bold flavors of the dish. You also can’t go wrong with a simple risotto dish, as it showcases the real essence of the grapes.