The historic estate of Fontanafredda conceals one or two little secrets, not least the hunting lodge to which its origins can be traced back to 1878. The property of the first King of Italy, it was not only a base for his hunting of the local game, but also for more, shall we say, earthy pursuits. The king's mistress, stationed at Fontanafredda, gave birth to a son and, while not officially recognised as royal progeny, he was granted the lodge when the King died. The development of Fontanafredda as we know it today ensued, until a bank took it over in lieu of unpaid gambling debts.
Today, thanks to a law prohibiting Italian banks from owning agricultural assets, the estate has passed into the sympathetic hands of Oscar Farinetti, founder of the Eataly chain of Slow Food restaurants and a native of nearby Alba. Fontanafredda's revival under Farinetti looks assured and this sleeping beauty of the Langhe, its vineyards are surely among the finest in the area, is now on a clear upward trajectory. It's a winery that combines this great history, Fontanafredda used to have its own bakery and school, and still preserves a great sense of community, with thoroughly modern production facilities for everything from Asti to Barolo.
The Fontanafredda Gavi is produced in the province of Alessandria, south east of Piedmont, where the soil consists mostly of lime and clay. The method of pruning in the vineyards is the Guyot system.
The grapes, carefully selected are lightly crushed in square caged presses. Following the separation of the must from the skins, the wine is refrigerated and undergoes static racking, after which the fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature (20°C). The wine is refined in steel for 4-5 months, and is then bottled in the spring following the harvest.
Gavi di Gavi is one of the most fashionable white wines Italy makes and this delicately floral example, exuding lemons, lilies of the valley and green apples, makes it easy to see why.