Wines from Liguria unfortunately are not well known in the United States. The Ligurian terrain is extensively terraced, producing fairly low yields, and creating a relatively more expensive wine due to higher production costs. After servicing local markets, little volume is left for export. Most Ligurian varietals are used in blending, with the exception of white Pigato and red Ormeasco, the two varietals we will explore in this article.
From a geographical standpoint, of all of Italy’s wine regions, the tiny region of Liguria is considered one of the most interesting. According to Discover Italy’s website, “The Cinque Terre and the Gulf of Poets, the Gulf of Tigullio, Genoa and Paradise Gulf, the Riviera delle Palme and the Riviera dei Fiori make up the famous coast of Liguria which stretches from Ameglia to Ventimiglia, for more than 300 km (186 mi).”
Wines from Liguria: Pigato
Pigato, a dry, earthy yet peachy white wine is often confused with Vermentino. Pigato flourishes on the sunny, terraced Ligurian hillsides, where the sun reflecting off the Mediterranean aids in its growth. Vermentino is better known further inland in and near the northern Piemonte region. While Pigato and Vermentino are genetically related, they are not the same wine, in spite of the fact that the names are sometimes used interchangeably.
The salty undertones of Pigato, which gets its name from the dark color spots — pigmentation — that develop during maturation, make it a perfect pairing for local Ligurian cuisine: sea bream, herbed cheese, vegetable dishes and seafood pasta.
Wines from Liguria: Ormeasco
Cultivated in the high, hilly Ormeasco di Pornassio DOC in the Riviera di Ponente area of Liguria, this is a hardy red that thrives on terraces as high as 2600 feet above sea level. It fares better in this climate where many reds do not because it has a short growing season, ripening before early autumnal frosts. Ormeasco is closely related to Dolcetto, but the two are distinct wines. Ormeasco is a full-bodied, deeply colored ruby red, with earthy tones and a not unpleasant hint of bitterness. It pairs with gamey meats, hearty stews, or dense fish in thick sauce.
If you’ve visited Liguria, please share your experiences with us. We would love to learn vicariously from you.