La Ghibellina was founded in 2000 by Alberto and Marina Ghibellini and specialises in the production of high quality wines that at the same time emphasize their typical character.
Located in Monterotondo, which is part of the Municipality of Gavi (Piedmont) and is one of the most ideally suited areas for the production of Cortese di Gavi DOCG, the vineyard stretches over an area of around 20 hectares, in a beautiful context of rolling hills between the southern part of the Po River Valley and the Ligurian Appenines.
The soil conditions, the ideal exposure to sunlight, and the climate that is particularly adapted to the cultivation of vines and that benefits from the sea breeze that blows from the nearby Mediterranean coast, make the conditions ideal for the production of wines with a firm and always recognizable character.
The care of the vines and the uncompromising dedication to the cellar make it possible to strive for constant improvement.
The region of Gavi, which is made up of the Lemme River Valley and the surrounding hills and mountains, has been inhabited since ancient times. Early historic documentation dates back to the Bronze Tablet of the Polcevara Valley of the 117 BC, in which the settlement of the Cavaturini is mentioned - so-called probably because they lived in caves and grottoes - in the area of the Lemor, which today is known as the Lemme. It is thought that the name "Gavi" also has the same origins, deriving from Cavatum with the elision of the consonant "t".
Following the fall of the Roman Empire Gavi became part of the Frankish domains. Moreover the presence of Saracens is attested around the Xth Century. This was proved when Arabic arms were found as well as by the examination of the toponymy: the eastern part of the mountain on which the Fortress of Gavi rises, which was built in around the year 1000, is named "Monte Moro" (the Moors Mount).
At the beginning of the second millennium Gavi belonged to the Obertenghi family. From them discended the Marquises who, from the XII Century, assumed the title "of Gavi". The first Marquis of Gavi was Guido, followed in 1116 by his son Alberto. Alberto ruled for six decades, and during this time he brought to Gavi, which was in a strategic position between Tortona, the Aleramic Marquisate and Genoa, a period of strong economic and political development. However, with this new importance Gavi then experienced a period of instability, that only ceased with the domination of the Emperor Frederick the 1st Hohenstaufen, known as "Barbarossa", who had friendly and family ties to the Marquises of Gavi. With the death of Barbarossa (1190) there began a period of irreversible decline for the region of Gavi which resulted in the passing of the whole area under the administration of the Genoese with an official act dated 16th September 1202.
From then on the affairs of Gavi were closely tied to those of the Republic of Genoa which dominated the region with the exception of the period between 1348 and 1358, when the area was controlled by the Visconti, and between 1418 and 1528, when first the Visconti ruled again and were then succeeded by the Fregosos and the Guascos of Alessandria.
Under the Genoese the area of Gavi, and in particular its fortress, were the scene of numerous conflicts and battles: against the Franco-Piedmontese, who in 1625 besieged the fortress for 17 days; against the Austrians, who at the end of the 18th Century briefly occupied the fortress; during the Napoleonic period when the French and Austrian troops clashed in the area.
The Genoese domination of Gavi only ceased definitively in 1814, when the Republic of Genoa was suppressed and its territories were transferred to the dominion of the King of Sardinia Victor Emanuel I following his treaties with France, Austria and England at the Congress of Vienna. With this change the geo-political and strategic importance of the area of Gavi and its fortress ceased, and the fortress was definitively demilitarised in 1854.
The area of Gavi is particularly rich in places of historical and natural interest. These vary from historic towns like Gavi, Novi Ligure, San Cristoforo, Capriata d'Orba, Tassarolo and Voltaggio, which are all rich in Medieval artistic and architectural heritage, to the splendid surrounding hills which are interspersed with vineyards and a unique balance between fields and woodlands. The Regional Park of Capanne di Marcarolo is also noteworthy, with its uncontaminated forests, rivers and remarkable scenery.
The local gastronomic tradition is without doubt of the highest level. In first place, surely lie the famous Gavi ravioli, that legend states were prepared for the first time by the Raviolo family in the XIIIth Century. They are not only served with the typical meat sauce (al tocco) but also in wine or "a culo nudo" (that is to say with no sauce so as to bring out the true flavours). Other important specialities are the Gavi risotto, the Focaccia stirata (a sort of drawn out pizza bread) and the testa in cassetta, a local type of salami or brawn that is characteristic of a number of parts of Italy but that in Gavi is specially prepared in order to bring out the delicate flavour that makes it a perfect match for the Cortese wine.
No meal would be complete without typical desserts such as the famous Amaretti di Gavi, the baci di dama (ladies kisses) and the canestrelli.
First cited in a letter written by the steward to the Marchese Doria in 1659, the cortese - known as "corteis" in dialect - is an autochthonous vine with white grapes that is mainly grown in the Southern part of the province of Alessandria, from Ovada to the Tortonan Hills, and in particular in the area of Gavi, where there is a great tradition for this vine and the highest quality is reached.
In 1870 Demaria and Leardi, who were the first scholars to study it scientifically, described the Cortese as a robust vine which is fecund and made precious by the "goodness and the exquisiteness of its produce", that "loves a sunny south facing disposition, [...] and that prospers both in calcareous, clayey and mixed soils". Moreover the studies made by Luis Oudard, the oenologist of the Count Cavour in Grinzane, showed the great potential of the cortese as a grape that could be used for the production of sparkling wines.
The fortunes of the cortese, given these premises, soon took off and by 1876 the Marchese Cambiaso, followed soon by the Raggo, Serra, Sertorio and Spinola families all decided to establish the first specialised vineyards on their estates in Gavi. From that moment the cultivation expanded rapidly also due to a further impulse in the early years of the Twentieth Century when numerous vineyards were replanted following the devastation of the Phylloxera.
The cortese has shown over the years to be an excellent quality wine, which is elegant and well-balanced. Not only as a fresh young wine is it pleasing, but it is also very good after prolonged ageing in the bottle, in some cases even for a decade or more, which enriches the wine with further character and complexity.
In 1974 "Gavi" or "Cortese di Gavi", made from purely cortese grapes, became a DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) wine and in 1998 was given the higher grade of DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita).
Before the event of the widespread cultivation of cortese at the end of the nineteenth century, the area of Gavi was mainly planted with red vines, in particular Barbera and Dolcetto.
Barbera is an autochthonous wine of Piedmont with a grand tradition that probably originates in Monferrato. The first documents that report the name are from the XVI Century, but it is probable that the so-called "Grisa" grape, cited as early as 1304 by Pier de' Crescenzi in his Liber Ruralium Commodorum (the most famous treatise on agronomy of the Middle Ages), actually refers to Barbera, which is said to be "grigia" (grey) since in the last stages of maturation it is covered with pruina (or epicuticular wax) and thus assumes a metallic hue.
Particularly widespread in the provinces of Asti, Alessandria and Cuneo, the Barbera vine produces extremely elegant wines, that are capable of combining a remarkable complexity of bouquet (from vinous and fruity aromas to the more ethereal and spicy one in the versions that have been aged in the wood) with an excellent structure, taste and persistence. All this in a context of incomparable pleasure thanks to a good level of acidity of the vine, that gives the wine its characteristic freshness.
In the area of Gavi, which has already been given greater recognition through the granting of the DOCG classification for the Cortese, the Barbera is classified with the Denominazione di Origine Controllata "Monferrato", that comprises other areas of the Province of Alessandria and Asti and provides the production of wines from pure Barbera grapes both red and "chiaretti" (rosé wines with a characteristic cherry colour).