Liguria: every wine connoisseur’s secret

Liguria is drop-dead gorgeous, the thin strip of land overlooking the Mediterranean Sea has lots to offer for food and wine lovers, the region is immensely attractive, yet, it’s relatively unknown.

Overshadowed by the more prestigious neighbor Piedmont and limited in space between the Mediterranean Sea and the Ligurian Apennines, the region produces very little wine, but the quality is outstanding. Native grapes, steep vineyards and passionate grape growers make the region’s wine something well worth trying. Here’s all you wanted to know about the wines of Liguria.

Great wine can only be made in the most beautiful places

Liguria is the third smallest region in Italy just behind Molise and the Aosta Valley with only 5416 square kilometers. Nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Ligurian Apennines, the thin strip of land has some of the most amazing sea views on earth, but the terrain is steep and marked by cliffs and steep slopes.

The 350-kilometer (220 mi) coastline is made of a series of sharp drops from the mountains to the blue sea, although it’s dotted by a few beaches.

It’s in these hills where the steep vineyards thrive. All the work must be done by hand in an authentic example of heroic viticulture.

Thousands of years of history

Although almost inhospitable due to the rugged terrain, Liguria has always been an important trade route and its harbours thrived since the Roman era. It comes as no surprise that controlling the valuable piece of land was an essential for the Romans, the Byzantines, the Lombards, and the Franks. The region was assaulted by pirates too.

Liguria is the original home of the very famous pesto sauce, made with basil and pine nuts, and the region’s seafood is lauded around the world. The wines have a long history in Liguria too, grapevines seem to have existed in the steep slopes since forever, and the Romans themselves carved many terraced vineyards still planted today.

Grapes and wines

Liguria makes around 80,000 hectoliters of wine in only 6000 ha of vineyards. There are over 100 different varieties planted in the ancient Ligurian slopes, but the six more important are Albarola, Bosco, Rossese, and Vermentino. The last one covering almost 50% of the vineyards (also known as Pigato.)

There are no DOCG wine designations in the area, but 8 DOC designations exist, from which the most representative are the Rossese di Dolceacqua / Dolceacqua DOC and the Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC.

Maixei Rossese di Dolceacqua Superiore DOC “Barbadirame” is a beautiful example of the Ligurian red style. Made with the native Rossese grape, it offers aromas of wild strawberries, roses and violets over a clean, medium-bodied palate.

As for the white wines, always brimming of finesse and elegance, try a glass of Maixei Riviera Ligure di Ponente Pigato DOC. A dry wine with intense aromas of peaches and apricots adorned with citrus peel aromas and a refreshing aftertaste. For seafood dishes, there are few better wines in the world.

Red or white, all Ligurian wines are a celebration to the region’s wine making traditions and the grape growers’ courage for tending the vines in some of the steepest vineyards on the planet. Heroic viticulture that produces daring wines. No Italian wine collection is complete with a few bottles of the rare Ligurian wine.

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