Situated 50 miles east of Piedmont, Gavi is home to the Cortese grape, known for its Chablis-like minerality and, in most cases, its mass-produced, innocuous character. There's nothing wrong with wines that bring pleasure from their more refreshing, gulp-able traits. I hadn't had an aha moment with Gavi where my eyes lit up, but that changed when introduced to La Ghibellina.

La Ghibellina's 20 hectares of vines sit on a bedrock of limestone tucked between the Po River Valley and the Ligurian Apennines mountain range. These elements play a vital role in the wine, resulting in gripping salinity that's rare for Cortese. Here, Cortese's white flower and citrus finish with terrific crushed rock and oyster shell notes, and this exuberant disposition is an amplified version of the norm in Gavi.

The couple behind the estate, Alberto and Marina Ghibellina, come from very different backgrounds. Alberto was a water polo player who medaled at the Olympics, and Marina was an art history student. Their passion for wine and Marina's family's roots in the region landed them at this property. The first vintage was in 2000, and from the start, they've been fortunate to work with celebrated enologist Beppe Caviola.

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