My daydreams lately have been filled with images of sunny vineyards, rolling green hills and large shady fig trees. I am being seduced by my memories of a recent visit to Villa Sparina in Gavi. I had the opportunity to visit this enchanted estate during a tour with the cultural group, Piemonte Land of Perfection– I will say it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
The history of Villa Sparina began in the 18th century, when part of the structure still standing was built by the Marquis Franzoni of Genova. It’s no wonder the Marquis chose to nestle the estate in the vineyards of Monterotondo, some of the most beautiful terroir you can imagine.
We were treated to a lovely tour, complete with an outdoor reception where we were offered a “light snack”- in other words, a table so heavily laden with cured meat, local vegetables and bread, that none of us ate for the rest of the day. The people at Villa Sparina have a sense of hospitality unequaled by most, even in Italy.
The estate is a working winery, a bed & breakfast, and a working farm which provides the hotel and restaurant with much of its produce. Photos don’t even begin to do justice to the kind of sun-kissed, astounding beauty of this place.
View of a neighboring farm and a field of sunflowers, just out of season.
The entrance to Villa Sparina…
A perfectly ripe Cortese grape, right off the vine.
Cortese is beautiful!
One of Villa Sparina’s most famous Gavi wines is the Monterotondo, which comes bottled in the estate’s traditional yellow bottle. Stunning wine, really, with a spicy complexity we did not find in any other example of Gavi. Made from the region’s most famous grape, Cortese, this wine is a gorgeous yellow in the glass (just look at the color of the skins on those grapes!). It is full of spicy, baked pear tart aromas, edged with a salty, briny, savory notes. Weighty on the palate, this is no simple white wine- there is a true complexity here and it is no wonder the winery keeps the vintages in the bottle for a year before release. I believe this is a white wine that will age well for many years, gaining complexity and texture as it matures.
When the weather turns cold and grey, and the weight of the holidays and the end of the year are upon us, I love escaping into memories of Gavi; this secret garden, these perfectly manicured vineyards and our warm, friendly hosts.