Vinified as a varietal wine under the Gavi di Gavi, Cortese di Gavi, Cortese del Alto Monferrato and Cortese Colli Tortonesi appellations, it produces a crisp, elegant, delicately scented wine. It is also used as a component in the blend of Bianco di Custoza and sometimes in sparkling wines. Occasionally given some oak contact, Cortese is at its best when consumed within a year or two of the vintage date.
Cortese is a fragile, early ripening variety prone to rot and high in acidity. Yields must be restricted to give it substance. The cool slopes around the commune of Gavi are still considered to be the microclimate most suited to this vine, where it achieves structure and body while retaining acidic crispness.
Cortese was first cultivated in Gavi over a thousand years ago and is believed to be native to the province of Alessandria at the foot of the Appenine Mountains. The white vines of Gavi are mentioned as early as 972.