Villa Sparina of Gavi – The Wine and Place

By Jessica Granatiero

Gavi is a wine, a place, and a home to the wine estate Villa Sparina that sits in Monterotondo, right in the middle of the Gavi DOCG region in Piedmont, Italy’s northwest region. A drive to the estate reveals undulating hills and fog (nebbia), the latter commonplace within Piedmont, covering the plethora of vineyards around Villa Sparina. 

While northwestern Italy is known for its famous red wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, made from the Nebbiolo grape, the white wine, Gavi, within the Gavi DOCG and made from the Cortese variety, truly excels. The Gavi DOCG is located within the province of Alessandria and sits about one hour southeast of Piedmont’s capital, Turin, where the 2006 Winter Olympics were held. .

The Estate

Picturesque and charming, the Villa Sparina estate’s 18th-century farmhouse greets you with beauty and stately nature. More than 200 acres of Villa Sparina’s vineyards and meadows benefit from the cool, calm breezes of the Ligurian Sea and are the perfect backdrop for a tranquil day touring the vineyards or relaxing with a book or tasting. 

Villa Sparina dedicates almost 75 percent of its total land to the growing of the Cortese grape variety, indigenous to that region. The vineyards are also comprised of a specific historic vineyard site -Monterotondo – that dates back to 1945 and is from where the cru Monterotondo Gavi comes. Another highlight is the Rivalta vineyard site in which its top Barbera is grown.  

The Villa Sparina estate reveals the vision of the Moccagatta family that includes its 4-star Ostelliere hotel, the La Gallina restaurant and winery and cellars, together rounding out a complete culinary, wine and hospitality experience. Run by siblings Stefano, Tiziana and Massimo, Villa Sparina has a history dating back to the ‘70s when Mario Moccagatta and his wife Bruna began the farm, although the property dates to the 18th century. Each sibling takes pride in their specific role within the estate from public relations, hospitality and winery and culinary operations, with traditional Piemontese dishes like vitello tonnato. 

The Selection of Villa Sparina Wines

Villa Sparina has a varied portfolio of high-quality wines – with different tiers of Barbera, Rose (Monferatto Chiaretto DOC), sparkling wine (Brut Metodo Classico Blanc de Blancs), Montej Bianco (a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc) and its Gavis del comune di Gavi that take center stage and are for what the estate is most known. 

You can easily identify the wines of Villa Sparina due to their unique bottle shape, different than a classically shaped wine bottle. The bottle’s designer gained inspiration from an old vase found on the property to develop its distinct appearance. The bottle shape is an icon, and it has since become synonymous with Villa Sparina wines.

The Gavi. This is the classic yellow label Gavi del comune di Gavi DOCG that the winery team places into bottle right after fermentation in stainless steel so that it can be enjoyed young with its fresh vibrancy. It displays beautiful citrus and yellow apple notes with a smooth finish. This comes in three sizes, half bottles (375ml), regular size bottles (750ml) and magnums (1.5L).

The Barbera. Barbera is a grape that shines in Piedmont and particularly at Villa Sparina. The Barbera DOC is a younger style that the wine team ages 100% in stainless steel. Medium-to-full bodied, notes of raspberry and black cherry jump from the glass with a round mouthfeel on the palate. 

Brut Metodo Classico Blanc de Blancs. This sparkling wine expresses the characteristics of the Cortese grape. (The term Blanc de Blancs means white of whites; so this bubbly wine is only made from white grapes.) It rests for almost four years with lees contact which gives it a nice full body mouthfeel and frothiness. Its acidity and minerality are bright and vivacious. 

The wines and property are only overshadowed by the grand, kind and jovial presence of the family. Particularly Stefano was my guide upon a visit through the winery and historic cellars, the latter taking me back in time as I meandered through the carved-out archways. Listening intently as Stefano spoke in Italian, I learned that the cellar also houses some of its dried meats as well as its top level and sparkling wines, where they rest in a temperature-controlled environment, perfecting their structure and balance. 

 One visit to Villa Sparina is not enough. It is a symphony of experiences, tranquility and personalities that make you want to see the Moccagatta family again.

Learn more here about Villa Sparina.