The wines of the Liguria region of Italy are tough to come by in the United States — only the reclusive Valle d’Aosta region produces and exports less bottles. Plus, given the naturally high costs of production in Liguria (due to its mountainous landscape), its wines can tend to the more expensive side. While the reds are certainly good, the real strengths of Ligurian winemaking lay in its whites, both the world-class vermentino and the distinctive pigato.
You will find that the wines from the Ponente (western Liguria) are typically derived from indigenous grapes, while those from the Levante (eastern Liguria) lean toward Tuscan varieties; that said, we would point you toward the Ponente for truly distinctive, Ligurian wines.
AG Wine Pick: Pigato
While pigato is genetically identical to the region’s trademark vermentino (and Piedmont’s favorita), it nevertheless achieves unique expression: pigato favors the earthy side of the flavor spectrum, is a bit more acidic and has a touch more body weight; by contrast, vermentino shows more exotic fruit and has more developed aromas. In addition, pigato is inclined to have more pronounced saline notes, making it ideal for local seafood and shellfish. While it might not prove to be your favorite everyday wine, pigato is sure to be a unique experience and might pair so well with seafood dishes that you will be sure to return to it again.
Look for varietal wines from the Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC. In this denomination, there are two primary sub-areas: Albenga (at lower elevation, where wines assume fruitier, fuller-bodied profiles) and Ranzo (at higher elevation, where wines take on more restrained, aromatic qualities).
Wine tasting recommendations: the wines of Liguria
Along with the famed pigato and vermentino, we recommend trying a dolcetto (known locally as ormeasco) from Ponente, which exhibits a less fruity, more earthy flavor profile than dolcetto-based wines found in Piemonte.
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