Cortese | white wine grape variety native to Italy. It is described as not at all aromatic by Dr Ian D’Agata (2019). See aromatic grape varieties. As the grape behind the wines of Gavi, Cortese was fashionable in the 1960s and 1970s but regressed in the 1980s due to overproduction and an overload neutral examples.

Wine style | Fairly neutral aromas. High acidity. Lemony with elegant white flower, herbal and mineral nuances. Age-worthy and interesting, unless over-cropped.

Wines | Piemonte (Piedmont): Gavi DOCG. | Gavi di Gavi. Gavi di Tassarolo. | Piemonte DOC Cortese. | Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato DOC. | Lombardy: Oltrepò Pavese DOC Cortese. | Veneto: Garda DOC Cortese. | Bianco di Custoza DOC (blend).

In Piemonte: Cortese is the most widespread non-aromatic white grape variety in Piemonte and enjoys  a prominent place in the region’s wine scene. Although not very present in the other Piedmont wine-growing areas (Cuneo and pre-Alpine belt), it is cultivated mainly in the province of Asti, on the right bank of the Tanaro and in the province of Alessandria. (Source: Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato DOC Disciplinare).

Viticulture | Cortese’s resistance to cold weather as well as its productive and vigorous nature endear it to farmers. Its biggest downfall is its thin skin makes it susceptible to grey rot in wet or humid autumns. Fortunately, Cortese doesn’t ripen too late and is usually harvested in mid-September.

Wine styles | Cortese is almost always made in a dry crisp style. Oak can quickly overwhelm. High acidity lends Cortese to sparkling wine production.

Bibliography

Dr Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014).

Dr Ian d’Agata, Italy’s Native Wine Grape Terroirs (University of California Press, 2019).

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.94-5.