One of the oldest & most illustrious of Genovese families, the Spinolas date back to 10th century. During the 12th & 13th century, the family played an important role in the development of Genova & that of the Maritime Republic, rivalling Pisa & Venezia, influencing trade across the Mediterranean & through its involvement with the Crusades. Many members of the Spinola family were elected as Doges, as well as Cardinals of the Holy Roman Empire. A Spinola even accompanied Christopher Columbus on his voyage to discover America in 1492. In 1528, Andrea Spinola, Count of Tassarola, occupied the Ligurian city of Savona on the orders of another Ghibellin family, the Dorias. Genova’s influence grew as they allied with Spain, becoming their bankers. The family in turn were celebrated by artists such as Botticelli, Velaszquez, Rubens, van Dyck, & (much) more recently Andy Warhol.
The family’s 100ha (of which 15ha planted to Cortese) Tassarola estate, Tenuta Cascina Massimiliana lies in the Gavi frazione of Rovereto. Prior to 2006, the fruit was sold off. Enter Andrea Spinola, fresh from working in Milan, who decided to dedicate his life to their Cortese vines – a grape first documented in 1630 – that lie at 300m asl, perched overlooking Rovereto Chiesa on the border between Tassarola & Gavi, planted in 1955, 1975, 1995 & more recently. Here the soils are volcanic red iron-rich but nutrient & acqua/water poor, hence naturally restraining the vigorous Cortese. Fanned by sea breezes coming up from the Mediterranean to the south, in 2014 they converted the estate to organic farming, certified by Ecocert/Valoritalia, & in 2015 his young family, wife Nora (originally from Aquisgrana, Westphalia), young sons Carlo, Massimiliano & Ludovico joined their father at the Tenuta.
Collaborating with Andrea & Nora at the Tenuta are enologist Vincenzo Muni & agronomist Davide Ferrarese.
Gavi del comune di Gavi DOCG ‘Carlo’
Frizzante Metodo Ancestrale Non Filtrato ‘Marchese Col Fondo’
Gavi del Comune di Gavi DOCG ‘ Massimiliano’ (oaked)
2018 Gavi del comune di Gavi DOCG ‘Carlo’ tasted April 2019, 13% abv. From Cortese vines planted in ’75, ’95 & ’98, on the red soils of Rovereto di Gavi at 300m asl, overlooking Rovereto Chiesa & Gavi itself. Harvested at c. 60 hl/ha, destalked, organic Cortese, vinified in stainless-steel: Bright, mineral, and saline. Gorgeous nose of citrus (mandarin, lemon) and pretty white flowers. Fresh and pure citrus fruit core, with racy acidity, and a little texture from battonage. Harmonious and finely woven, with real clarity and purity of fruit, and such drinkability.
Frizzante Metodo Ancestrale Non Filtrato ‘Marchese Col Fondo’ NV (2017 harvest) – tasted April 2019, 13% abv. A fun metodo ancestrale frizzante, with a stylish label to match! Andrea & Nora wanted to call it ‘Cortese Col Fondo’ but this wasn’t permitted, so they went for ‘Marchese Col Fondo’ instead, which I think might even have a better ring to it! 100% Cortese, the nose has gentle citrus notes along with bready and biscuity character. Plenty of fruit (2017 harvest) on the palate, with notes of pulpy citrus and pear, waxy lemons, and lemon tart, and a spine of vibrant and crisp acidity, which seems to mask the 10 grams residual sugar. Cloudy (unfiltered) yet bright and very finely made. Energetic, sapid, and so extremely drinkable! A unique wine, that would be great as an exciting aperitif, or with fish or light pasta dishes.
2017 Gavi del Comune di Gavi DOCG ‘ Massimiliano’ – Tasted April 2019, 14.5% abv. This is the Spinola’s top cru, made from their oldest vines (60years old), South/South West Exposure, 100% Cortese, on clay and iron rich soil. It is fermented half in barrique and half in stainless steel, 10 months on the lees with battonage adding texture and creaminess. Lovely nose of exotic fruit, hints of lime flower and citrus. Layers of complexity on the palate, with a core of citrus and exotic fruit, and a very subtle oak integration adding richness to the mouthfeel, complimented and lifted by the naturally high acidity of the Cortese grape, and a mineral edge. A wine with precision and finesse, that is a clear step up from their straight Gavi del comune di Gavi DOCG ‘Carlo’, and it’s persistent minerality and complexity seems to keep on giving…. delicious!