Italian wine: Native grapes of Liguria
- WTI Magazine #119 Sep 15, 2019
Liguria is one of the wine regions I don’t write about too often on here just due to the opportunity of not trying wines from there too often. Earlier this summer I attended some tastings and tried a variety of unique grapes from Liguria. The grapes included pollera nera, cruvin, rossese di dolceacqua and good old vermentino and sangiovese. Let’s dig into the region and these Ligurian wines that await exploration.
Lunae Bosoni is only about a couple miles from Tuscany between the areas of Ortonovo and Castenuova Magra. Five generations of the Bosoni family are currently operating the winery today. Lunae Bosoni is one of the larger producers of Liguria. What I loved discovering about this winery is their proximity to Massa Carrara in Tuscany. This is where my mothers part of the family hails from and I had the opportunity to go there on my honeymoon. If you aren’t familiar with this area they are known for their marble shipped all over the world. As you drive closer the mountains look like they’re covered with snow, but its all marble. We took a tour inside. Amazing!
The Bosoni family owns 85 hectares with additional land that they partially lease as well as their work with other small growers. The name Lunae Bosoni stems from the ancient Roman city “PortusLunae” meaning “port of the moon”. The winery takes pride in their vermentino as well as working with other local red grapes of the area including massareta, pollera nera and sangiovese.
I tasted the 2018 Colli di Luni Vermentino Etichetta Nera and their 2015 Colli di Luni Rosso Niccolo. The EtichettaNera is made of 100% vermentino and goes through a cold maceration for 12 hours that lends to a richer wine with more complexities. The grapes are sourced from 35+ year old vines. This is considered the winery’s flagship wine. The nose reminded me of gewurztraminer with its aromatics. Round, soft, clean with apples flavors on the palate. This wine is done in all stainless steel spending about 3 months on the lees. Just beautiful. 13.5% ABV SRP $21.
The 2015 Colli di Luni Rosso Niccolo is made of 70%sangiovese with 15% pollera nera and 15% merlot. The goal is to eventually replace the merlot and make it 30% pollera nera. Pollera nera is an old vine from the 12th century that has been rediscovered. You will find it only in Liguria that I am aware of. I appreciate the work that wineries like Lunae Bosoni do to reinvigorate these ancient grapes and prevent them from extinction. Pollera nerais a thin skinned grape like pinot nero. This wine spends about 12 months in barrique with about 6 months in the bottle. The wine is named after Pope Niccolothat was born in the nearby town of Sarzana. I loved the structure of this wine, the ripe cherries with herbal notes and hints of pepper. 13.5% ABV SRP $19.
Two other producers that stood out mostly because of the uniqueness of the grapes. This tasting was the first time I had a cruvin, or at least from what I can remember. Punta Crena is owned by the Ruffino family that have been caring for the vineyards for 500 years. It is today run by 4 siblings of the family. The winery is located in the tiny village of Varigotti. Located only about 1200 meters from the sea the breezes coming off the Ligurian Sea definitely moderate the climate here for the grapes. Punta Crena works with some unique grapes very unfamiliar to myself including crovino, mataossu and barbarossa.
Crovino is a grape that is rather difficult to work with and produces very small yields. I believe that Punta Crena is the only winery that actually grows this grape. In local dialect cruvin means to fall and these grapes are ones that basically fall off the vine once ripe. The 2017 Punta Crena Cruvin is both unfiltered and unfined and spends all its time in stainless steel with about 4 months on the lees. I immediately smelled earth and dirt upon smelling this wine. Lots of dark fruit, some spice, lower in tannin with a smooth structure. Quite interesting to say the least and worth seeking out. SRP $34.
Azienda Agricola Danila Pisano
Danila Pisano is a winery located on the far west side of Liguria bordering France in the Val Verbonne Valley. Danila, owner of the winery, restored the family vineyards in 1990 and has been making wine every since. They became certified organic back in 1996. Danila grows exclusively the Rossese grape, native to Liguria. It is typically called Rossese di Dolceacqua named after the village from which it grows. The 2017 Danila Pisano Rossese di Dolceacqua is a soft, delicate wine displaying red fruit. Light in body with a hint of pepper, violets and currants. For those that love red wines and are looking for something lighter to drink in the warm months you may want to check this out. SRP $24.