When it comes down to quality imported wine for a fair price, you can’t do much better than to purchase them from the importer themselves. We have been importing the line of wines from Ernesto Picollo since the 2007 vintage, and as far as sub-$20 white wine deals go, it’s rather unfathomable to do much better than Picollo’s Gavi di Gavi Rovereto. It’s been a huge hit with customers and staff for nearly a decade!


The estate is located on the tiny slope of Rovereto which is within Gavi DOCG in southern Piedmont. Its proximity to the Ligurian Sea keeps things cool at night bestowing the Cortese grapes with their lively acidity levels. The vineyard faces due south and that goes a long way in getting the fruit ripe and in seamless balance.

The first written documentation about the Cortese grape came all the way back in 1659, praising its resistance to disease and for producing high quality fruit. Its ideal terroir would be in a dry, cool climate with clay soils and southern exposure – which would describe Rovereto to a T. Gianlorenzo Picollo uses all stainless steel tank for fermentation giving the wine a bright, pure expression, and the refinement, expression, and complexity of his Gavi di Gavi Rovereto will make one scratch their head and wonder, “How could this wine be this good and SO inexpensive?” It’s definitely a great wine to accompany most dishes that you would normally pair with white wine, like seafood or poultry, but it really shines with shellfish.

Gianlorenzo (second from right) & the Picollo family

In many circumstances, when I see a producer with different levels and different takes on the same grape variety, I would recommend saving a few bucks and popping the entry-level bottle, leaving the similar, yet more expensive wine be. Not in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I love Gianlorenzo’s entry-level Gavi, but for less than $5 more, you can get your hands on a much classier, complex, and precise take on what the best terroirs can do for a humble grape such as Cortese. It is well worth the investment! Knowing that there is an abundance of white wine out there which is less complex, less interesting, less tasty, yet far more expensive, we head back to the bin with Picollo’s Gavi di Gavi Rovereto time and time again. It’s THAT good, and because you’re buying it directly from the importer, it’s THAT inexpensive! – Peter Zavialoff

Sometimes the most enjoyable wine is the simplest. Take our bestselling Gavi from Ernesto Picollo – it is made with one grape, Cortese, fermented in tank for approximately three weeks and then bottled. Simple, no? But what results! Lemony, citrusy flavors made vibrant with a solid backbone of acidity. The 2014 Gavi just landed in our warehouse and it’s as wonderful as the previous seven vintages TWH has carried!
At $10.99 a bottle, it isn’t difficult to understand whyPicollo’s Gavi is a bestseller. It’s an authentic wine made by a tight-knit Italian family who continue to push themselves to make the best possible wine for a very fair price. Gianlorenzo Picollo is the third generation proprietor, whose shy demeanor can mask his passion for the work in the vineyard and the cellar. Because there isn’t much in the way of manipulation in the cellar, it is crucial to bring in excellent fruit. Gianlorenzo accomplishes this with green harvesting and keeping reasonable yields.
The Picollo Family
Though part of Piedmont, its proximity to the Ligurian Sea gives Gavi a more Mediterranean climate as opposed to the continental climate of Barolo and Barbaresco to the north.The winery is located in the hamlet of Rovereto in the heart of Gavi. The Picollo farm is right across from the church, just as depicted on their label. David travelled to Italy for the first time this past summer to visit with many of our Italian producers. David asked for Picollo’s coordinates since he was getting there by car and was using GPS.Gianlorenzo ignored his request and told him when he gets to the church, there they are!
Vineyards in Gavi
We had been out of Gavi for over a month. Our container from Italy was delayed over and over. I was at a loss, for the Gavi is my staple for Friday Night Fish Fry.Whether it’s baked filet of sole, linguine with clams, or pesto pasta, Gavi matches it all. Though fragrant and full of character, Picollo’s Gavi is the perfect foil for fish, shellfish and vegetarian dishes because it doesn’t overwhelm the palate. You notice the acidity but it is never harsh and the citrusy flavors are snappy. The 2014 comes in at 12% abv, keeping things light and easy.
My calendar for 2015 is filling up fast. When I read a post on FB warning that there were only ten Saturdays until Christmas, I felt sick to my stomach. Stay in the moment, I coached myself. One thing at a time. Yes, one thing. Ah yes,the one thing that I am most looking forward to isour event at Mourad’s on October 22 featuring the wines of Ouled Thaleb, Morocco’s oldest working winery. We’ve been carrying Ouled Thaleb wines for some time now, so I am especially excited to taste through them while dining at Mourad Lahlou’s newest restaurant. Seats are still available, so if interested in joining us, please give us a call. – Anya Balistreri

Picollo’s Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 7:32 PM

The 2012 Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto” from Ernesto Picollo captures the essence of seaside freshness as it combines lime-scented, citrusy fruit with sparkling acidity.There is no argument that Ernesto Picollo’s Gavi DOCG is a true workhorse and bargain, but when you want a little more there there, the “Rovereto” is the way to go. Picollo’s winery and most of their vineyards are in the hamlet of Rovereto within Gavi in southeastern Piedmont. Often referred to as the crown jewel of Piedmontese whites, Gavi, in actuality, has more in common with its southern neighbor’s wines, Liguria. In fact, Rovereto’s climate is influenced by its proximity to the Ligurian sea. The maritime breezes make their way up the hills to Rovereto, preserving there a more Mediterranean climate. Most of Gavi has a mix of both sand and clay soils, however in Rovereto soils tend to be more clay, allowing for reserves of water for deep roots during dry summer months. Also, Rovereto gets full southern exposure, which helps with ripening.

Gavi’s grape, Cortese, can trace its history way, way back. There is written documentation from 1659 naming it as one of the vines planted on an estate in Piedmont. It was prized for its resistance to grape disease and for producing quality grapes with high yields. Ideally Cortese needs a dry climate, meager soils and good sun exposure, all things that Rovereto provides.


So it follows that the lush texture of Picollo’s “Rovereto” with its golden hue and zippy minerality is especially complimentary to seafood and in particular to shellfish. All stainless steel tank-fermented, there is plenty of concentration propelled by a suave palate feel, making Picollo’s “Rovereto” dangerously easy to finish off well before any food shows up at the table. But remember, this is Italian wine and Italians insist on eating food while drinking wine, so do as they say and make sure to have a few nibbles on hand when you pull the cork. Enough with the lecture!


This really happened. At a staff tasting we tried a white wine that struck us as interesting but maybe didn’t quite wow us, so we decided to give it another chance and placed it in the fridge overnight to see if it would evolve in the bottle. At the end of the following day, after the shop was closed up and before heading out, Chris presented Pete and me with a glass of white wine. I took a whiff and was positively baffled at how dramatically the sample white we tried the day before had changed.  Gone were the earthy, adhesive aromas and in its place was pulpy citrus, charged acidity and a fragrant herbal nose. It was fabulous! Could a wine really change that much overnight? Well the glass in my hand certainly proved it could, that is until Pete caught sight of my confusion and also noticed the vast difference between the wine we tasted the day before and the one we were tasting now. Putting two and two together, Pete quickly announced that what we were drinking was not the funky sample but most likely the 2012 Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto” from Ernesto Picollo. This made perfect sense to me however the only way Chris could have gotten a hold of a perfectly chilled bottle of “Rovereto” was to have opened a bottle that I had placed hours before in the fridge to take home for my Friday Night Fish Fry! Flip flopping from bouts of laughter to shooting “you son of a gun” glances over at Chris for ruining my planned dinner wine, I had to admit it was a comical way to end the work week and that great wine will always and immediately make itself known.


The last couple of weeks have been tough. Without going into details, let me just say that my family has faced some rough challenges – but we’re a tight bunch and I am thankful for that. In between handling family matters, I have taken some time out to bask in summertime’s fun.  An annual trip to the Sonoma County Fair with my daughter and husband was a highlight. Who can resist newborn piglets, greasy fair food, or a free cone of vanilla ice cream from the Clover stand? Oh yeah, and I helped rescue a drowning woman out of the Russian River. All of this makes me more mindful of how blessed I am for the family I have and how it’s best to do now and not later. There is a bag of calamari in my freezer that went in when my husband passed on going to a long ago planned, all-guys retreat to stay home with me while things were still up in the air. The calamari is going to be fried up soon and with it a bottle of 2012 Gavi “Rovereto” will be served. I’ll just have to make sure to hide the bottle away from Chris! – Anya Balistreri

2012 Gavi DOCG from Ernesto Picollo

Thursday, April 10, 2014 12:10 AM

Day 4 at the new place: wine is finally making it to the sales floor. Priority number one? Stack up the 2012 Gavi DOCG from Ernesto Picollo! Why this wine? It is arguably our most universally preferred under $12 bottle of white in the store. I am not sure that the winery’s name, Ernesto Picollo, is what people remember but our customers sure know to ask for “the Gavi”.


The Gavi appellation is located in Italy’s Piedmonte region. The grape is Cortese, a variety cultivated in this area for hundreds of years. Cortese’s signature appeal is the white flower aromas, subtle fruitiness and lively fresh finish. Picollo’s Gavi precisely exhibits these attributes. Measuring under 13% alcohol, usually around 12.5%, Picollo’s Gavi is light on its feet so you can enjoy a glass before dinner without feeling weighted down. 


The Picollo family has been making wine for three generations, currently farming close to 8 hectares of vines in traditional fashion. The average age of the vines is between 25 to 30 years, though much of the newer vines go into the Gavi DOCG. Fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel, the success of this wine lies with the excellent farming, resulting in perfectly grown grapes with which to make wine.


Not only have we managed to move our entire store this week, but we also took in our first container! The container arrived from Italy with replenished stocks of Picollo’s Gavi. There was a slight lag between running out of the ’11 Gavi and getting in the ’12 Gavi. During this time, I was forced to bring home other affordable whites. I discovered new favorites, but I really missed my Gavi. The nuanced white blossom and melon flavors blanketed by a sea breeze fresh, mineral core is deeply satisfying. I love how it balances out salty snacks. Friday’s Fish Night menu at Taverna Balistreri is often a Meyer lemon topped, herby, bread-crumbed baked filet of Petrale. It is a delicate fish, therefore it needs something light and fresh to go with it. The 2012 Gavi DOCG from Picollo is the hands-down winner for this match-up. 


I was working at TWH when it moved from Bryant to Carolina Street. After that ordeal, I vowed never to do it again! Ha ha. The grueling work aside, I am thrilled to be in this new location. I must commend my colleagues who put in many, many extra hours/days to accomplish this task. Everyone did their part and then some, all the while making it fun with lots of laughter and cheery repartee. And now, sitting at our new workstation, I am feeling an even deeper appreciation for our customers. So many of you have already ventured to our new spot and have patiently waited as we scrambled around the warehouse trying to locate wine for you. Yep, the sales floor is not fully stocked … but it’s getting there! TWH customers are the best! Thank you… – Anya Balistreri

2011 Ernesto Picollo Gavi DOCG

Monday, June 17, 2013 7:20 PM

Don’t look now, but we are steaming into summer! Solstice is coming up on Friday, I wish I could be in Santa Barbara for that, but alas, I had a very rare weekend off last week. The band played 2 shows up in Hood River, Oregon, and we had a blast. A little wine was sipped, both local and imported, and there were many memorable moments, that’s for sure. Being June and all, there was a whole lot of daylight up there, so yeah, summer is on the mind big time! It must be time to stock up on this year’s refrigerator door white wine. This is an absolute no-brainer here. What else could it be? The 2011 Ernesto Picollo Gavi DOCG.


After having put together a Dirty Dozen or two over the past 7 years, it has become more than obvious that as far as good quality sub $10 wine bargains go, there are substantially more red options than white. Why that is, I don’t know, but it’s a fact. That’s what makes Picollo’s Gavi extraordinary.  We’ve been importing the Ernesto Picollo line for several vintages now, and we are absolutely delighted with the wines. Their entry-level Gavi DOCG is a great example of how refreshing the Cortese grape can be. Grown in Piemonte, Gavi is the white wine of choice all along the coast from the Italian Riviera to Cinque Terre. Think fresh citrus aromas with a hint of melon; the palate is framed by zippy white fruit and a whiff of pebbly minerals, which leads the taster to a bright, lipsmacking finish. I could totally see myself back in sunny Bordighera looking out over the Mediterranean sipping on a glass of this whilst I toss back a bowl of gamberi. The beauty of Picollo’s Gavi DOCG, is that it is great on its own as well as being versatile enough to pair with crustaceans, poultry, pork, or white fish. So what does this baby cost? $10.49 per bottle. By the case? How about less than $9??!!?? Definite no-brainer here.



It’s really hard to find enjoyable wines for less than $10. It’s even harder to find a good white wine in that price range. But that’s what we do; as Anya says, “We taste a lot of bad wines so you don’t have to.” When we say yes to something, it’s for good reason. Like the Ernesto Picollo Gavi DOCG. I fondly remember the first vintage we carried. I took a bottle over to my favorite Monday night haunt,and excitedly poured a taste for Bruce Hill himself. He took a sip, his expression changed, he nodded and smiled, “Nice,” he said.“What’s the grape?”

“Cortese,” I replied.

“Great, we’ll pour it by the glass at the Pizzeria. Good find. Tell (the manager).”

Let’s just say that I got to know their valets very well, as I used their parking lot several times to drop off cases of the stuff on my way home after work. If it was good enough for them, it is certainly good enough for me, and I will consider it a failure if I ever come home to a summer-heated treehouse and not have a bottle of Gavi already in the fridge!


So yeah, summer is almost here. It’s time for summer traditions like grilling, hiking, biking, hanging at the beach, I could go on but you all know what I’m getting at. Stocking up on quality, inexpensive white wine is another summer tradition that won’t be going away any time soon. As long as they continue to produce it, let’s just say that the Ernesto Picollo Gavi DOCG will be a summer tradition in 2013, and for years to come. Oh, and to all the Dads out there, best wishes for a Happy Father’s Day! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about summer, inexpensive white wine, the band, or English Football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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This past Tuesday, gathered around a table at the center of Piccino restaurant, Elisabetta Fagiuoli of Montenidoli gave The Wine House staff a brief but exhaustive history of her Tuscan estate and the nearby medieval town of San Gimignano. The history lesson started by describing that 5 million years ago where Montenidoli now stands was once covered by sea.Today her vineyards grow on these mineral rich soils where ancient oyster shells dapple the rows. The lecture continued to more “present” day events pointing out that it was the Etruscans who predated the Romans that first planted grape vines in this area. Elisabetta went over a lot of information covering many years! She had us riveted to her every word. She showed us photos on her iPad that made us long to fly back home with her. Apart from the lovely aerial photos taken from her estate that literally look down on to San Gimignano (those lucky enough to have visited San Gimignano know that it is a town built on top of a hill) and the valley below, what impressed me most were the photos of the oyster shells and other marine critters that are strewn about her vineyards and a shot of her vineyard in what is probably late spring/summer with cover crop so lush and alive that it looks more like a flower garden. The healthy cover crop in the rows of vines is evidence of the vigor and vitality of Montenidoli soil. Then we began to taste Elisabetta’s wines…



The first sip went to the 2009 Tradizionale Vernaccia di San Gimignano. This is 100% Vernaccia that is left in contact with the skins for an extended period of time before fermenting in cement tanks. It is golden in color with formidable structure and firmness to the finish. To me this wine drinks like a red wine and with this in mind, it really needs food to show off its full potential. Don’t confuse this with a fruity aperitif. No, this wine needs to be lingered over and tasted with the same kind of reverence and mindfulness one gives to a powerful red. I’d love to pop open a bottle the next time I come home with an armful of baby braising greens from the farmer’s market. Elisabetta loves to suggest pairing the Tradizionale with liver and spinach,commenting that iron rich foods compliment it perfectly. I haven’t put this suggestion into practice but I’m game. I can only imagine how well earthy organ meats would play against the fruit, extraction and tannic underpinning of the Tradizionale. Elisabetta makes many references to child rearing and nursing when speaking about her wines. She described leaving the Tradizionale grapes in contact with the skins as a mother who would not want to leave contact with her child. She then made it absolutely clear to us that she is looking for the development of flavor with the extended skin contact but in no way is there oxidation. All the wines showed beautifully that evening and as the glasses emptied the theme that was raised over and over was thatMontenidoli’s Vernaccias are in a class by themselves and though Vernaccia may not be considered a ‘noble’ grape yet, when the synergy of place, terroir, varietal and winemaker come together like they do with Elisabetta’s Vernaccias perhaps the concept of ‘noble’ grape should be reconsidered. Earlier in the day, Elisabetta’s wines were presented to many top SF sommeliers – all were blown away by the complexity of her wines.



I am so grateful to have spent an evening with Elisabetta trying her wines in the company of my colleagues. Listening to Elisabetta explain that it is not she who makes the wine but it is the soil of Montenidoli that is responsible helped to solidify what I already knew to be true thatthis is a woman who is deeply connected to the soil and is clear as to her role in making, or raising as she puts it, wine. Of course the evening wasn’t all serious wine talk, Elisabetta shared many words of wisdom like when she announced that there are two times in life when you can behave as you wish, before 6 and after 70! At one point Elisabetta threw out that Andre Tchelistcheff, known as “the dean of American winemakers”, came to visit her in the late 70s. She said that Andre told her to put her wine in barrel and she did! I nearly fell off my chair. This story resonates with me on so many levels, the least of which is that it took a Russian American to tell an Italian how to make wine…my ethnic chauvinism is rearing its ugly head!


Elisabetta will be back in town next week for Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri tasting at Fort Mason. If you can’t make the event, don’t fret, we have plenty ofher lovely wines available at The Wine House. Come on by, we have many more stories to share!

Anya Balistreri

Ernesto Picollo: 2010 Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto”

Friday, September 2, 2011 7:56 PM


If you’ve been paying close attention to our inventory over the past few years, you may have noticed that our selections of vini d’Italia have increased over three-fold. We can cite many reasons why this is, but it’s good to be in the right place at the right time. Last month we told you about our latest container from Italy, and how it was bursting with new goodies, some of which we’ve never sold before. Alas, there was one name that when pulled from the container garnered thepraise and celebration of our entire staff, Ernesto Picollo. His Gavi DOCG and Gavi di Gavi have pleased many a customer and staff member of TWH for a several vintages, and we’re delighted to have the 2010s in stock.

Made from the Cortese grape, the wines from Gavi are typically medium bodied with bright acidity and hints of citrus fruit. Ah, but Picollo’s Gavi are so much more!The entry level Gavi DOCG is crisp and clean, infused with minerals, citrus and stone fruit. The Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto” is a more refined, precise take on both variety and terroir. From vines averaging 35 years of age, its aromatics are pure apricot/peach framed by fresh rocky mineral. The palate is focused and balanced, much like a newly sharpened knife. For the price, it’s tough to beat. Finally, the Gavi di Gavi “Rughe” is Ernesto’s cream of the crop. It is produced in very small quantity due to painstaking procedures like crop thinning prior to ripening and secondary fruit selection. The Rughe has all the precision of the Rovereto, yet has the opulence you’d find in a white wine twice the price.

2009 Picollo Ernesto Gavi di Gavi

Saturday, April 16, 2011 4:08 PM

Happy Friday, all! These are exciting times. Take a look around,everywhere you look, things are a-bloomin’. Check out your local Farmers’ Market, and there are sure signs that spring indeed has sprung. Flip on the TV and check out what’s on the sports channels: Baseball! And if you take a drive through wine country, the skeletal, craggy vines of winter are showing renewed signs of life as budbreak has occurred and the 2011 vintage is on! As the days continue to grow longer and warmer,we’re compelled to trade in that glass of hearty, luscious red wine forsomething cool and crisp. By virtue of our ability to directly import wine from the Old World, have we got a super deal on a super wine from Italia:The 2009 Gavi di Gavi Rovereto from Picollo Ernesto.


We had brought in one previous vintage of the Gavi wines from Picollo Ernesto already, but when we tasted the latest releases, the 2009s, we said, “Ancora!” The Gavi DOCG was a stunning success with just the right amount of crisp, lipsmacking fruit, mineral, and lively acidity.The 2009 Gavi di Gavi Rovereto is a whole ‘nother animal altogether! This is true Gavi di Gavi, grown on the slopes of Gavi’s famous Rovereto. The focused aromas are complex and refined. You get more than a hint of sun baked, rocky, rich mineral and a breeze of stone fruit all wrapped up in a floral profile. The palate is fresh and crisp, with an abundance of complex nuance: think apricots, blossoms, and stones. The fresh acidity keeps all of that humming through the finish leading the contented sipper scratching their head wondering how all of this goodness can come out of a bottle priced well below $20. But that’s why we do what we do! We take such pleasure when we unearth a gem of a wine that drives like a Bentley with the sticker of a Prism. The 2009 Gavi di Gavi Rovereto is that gem of a wine!


What to pair the wine with, you might ask? It will shine with lighter meats, of course, like fish, shellfish, or a chicken breasted Caesar Salad. Its friendliness is not confined to dinner either. A warm evening and a couple of olives with the right company will do the trick just as well. So let’s all get up for the seventh inning stretch, grab some spring leeks, wipe off those eye shades, and enjoy the explosion of April’s colorful flora; spring is here! And just in time, we’ve got your springtime wine covered. Seriously, if it wasn’t so trite, we could easily get away with calling the 2009 Picollo Ernesto Gavi di Gavi Rovereto, “Springtime in a bottle”. Let the sun shine. – Piero Zaviallo
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2009 Picollo Ernersto Gavi DOCG

Thursday, March 10, 2011 7:33 PM

Happy Mardi Gras, everybody! We’ve been grooving to Cajun sounds all day here at TWH, and we’ve definitely caught the New Orleans vibe. Mmmm, New Orleans. Fond memories; I greatly improved my standing in the eyes of The Big Easy the last time I was there. Anyways, there’s all this talk of beads and crayfish and zydeco and oyster po’boys! Dinner time’s coming on, and we’ve got four TWH empoyees’ tummys a’rumblin.


So yes, Cajun fried chicken, red beans and rice, or Jambalaya; we can go in many directions with this theme. Is there a wine that can go with all those options? I’d like to think so. My colleagues are not going to be very happy with me after they read this, because everybody here loves this wine! Emily took it “out for a date”, and wrote about it recently. Take into consideration its versatility, sense of place, complexity and price, and the 2009 Picollo Ernesto Gavi is the best white wine deal currently in the house! Yup, the best.

This is the second vintage of Picollo Ernesto’s Gavi we’ve imported, and I have to say, it won’t be the last. Hints of lemon blossoms and that vitamin-like mineral waft from the glass; the palate is fresh and crisp with a soft, mouth-coating fruitiness that is balanced by vibrant acidity; the finish is in full harmony with the fruit and mineral bonking each other on the head as they gleefully fade away.

Yes, once again Happy Mardi Gras! Whether you’re chowing down something that reminds you of New Orleans, something Cajun, or anything really, don’t miss out on the 2009 Picollo Ernesto Gavi DOCG.Peter Zavialoff

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