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.
There is not a scientific definitive conclusion about Pigato and Vermentino being the same grape yet. Maybe they are two different clones of the same stuff (or maybe not). Tasting, P. is in general more fleshy, and V. more mineral, but we are anyway talking about slight distinctions.
I would argue that V. is more common inland: i.e. in the Cinque Terre and Colli di Luni DOCs (and not only) vineyards are often in view of the sea. In Piedmont they have the local Favorita white grape that is more or less Vermentino, not an enormous acreage of it anyway.
Ormeasco and Dolcetto are not different wines. Ormeasco is a local name of a clone of Dolcetto, but the grape is that one. In US there is this idea of the Dolcetto being a wine fit for pizza, but when it grows on soils with a clay component (it happens more than once), its tannins can be important. So it is not so surprising to have a full body Dolcetto.
Thank you once again for your clarifications! Grapely appreciated 🙂 The CA winery I work for makes an incredible Dolcetto using CA grapes. And, yes, it is very much a pizza wine. Not a lot of tannin. A ton of fruit. I call it an adult version of Hawaiian Punch. I’m definitely looking forward to trying an Italian Dolcetto.