By Susannah Gold
Liguria is a long and thin region which borders on France in the West and runs to Tuscany in the East. Renowned for its extremely picturesque landscapes and closely huddled mountain towns, Liguria also produces a number of DOC wines. The wines from the Cinque Terre or five towns have been famous for centuries. They were mentioned by both Petrarch and Boccaccio. The five towns, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are all connected by intricate walking paths and are a favorite with Italian and international tourists. Viticulture in this area is done by hand without the use of tractors. The vines tend to grow on terraces on small plots of land. While they are beautiful to the eye, it makes for very difficult planting and harvesting.
Among the wines are a dry white named Cinque Terre DOC and the dessert version of this wine called Sciacchetra’. Albarola is one of the local grape varieties which is part of the blend that produces these two wines. The other two varieties in the blend are Bosco and Vermentino. Albarola is a small grape which is light bodied and somewhat neutral in flavor when it is young. There are more than 20 synonyms for this grape variety including Calcalella, Temosci, and Madea. As the wines made with this grape mature, they take on honey, floral and perfume aromas.
The grapes grow in poor soils in Liguria and are subjected to mist and some rain from the sea as well as cooling marine breezes which protect grapes from the hot sun. Generally, the wines that are produced from these grapes have a distinct marine note as well.
The dry version of this wine is a very pleasant aperitif which also works well with light fare and fish dishes. The dessert version, Sciacchetra, can have deep honeyed notes, dried fruit and floral overtones. It is not overly sweet and can be very long lived.
Only a few wines of these wines are available in the United States such as those from producers Arrigoni, Bonanni, Walter de Batte, Bisson, and La Polenza, among others. Enotect Inc and Vias Wine Imports are a few of the importers who bring in these wines. The wines can be found at De Vino in New York City, Mount Carmel Wines in the Bronx, New York, San Francesco Wine Company in San Francesco, California, Shop-Rite Liquors in Lincoln Park, Illinois, and Specs Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods in Houston, Texas. The dry version of this wine retails for $20 to $30 while Sciacchetra sells for about $40 to $60. The wines are also on many wine lists including those of L’Amante in Burlington, Vermont, Cinque Terre Restaurant in Portland, Maine, and Babbo Restaurant in Manhattan, New York.
Of course it is never as fun to drink these wines as when you are eating outdoors, looking at the sea in Liguria however, the taste of these wines can bring you there in a heartbeat and is much less expensive than the cost of a plane ticket.