Liguria, the land of world-famous rivieras, is actually the region where sea and mountains are... the same thing! And so, between sea and mountains, Ligurian wines have always enjoyed excellent fame, praised by Petrarca, Dante and Cervantes, up to d'Annunzio and Montale. Thanks to the combination of the sea, which mitigates the climate and makes it beautifully Mediterranean, and the mountains, which provide controlled ventilation and excellent day/nighttemperature ranges. In addition, the isolation of many corners of the region, which can almost only be reached by sea, has led to the conservation of rare and indigenous vines. And viticulture, in these parts, is almost always heroic, considering the steep slopes overlooking the sea.
The Riviera di Levante has clayey-calcareous and locally sandy soils. The most representative vine of this stretch of coast is undoubtedly Vermentino, a white wine that can be defined as international, or at least common throughout the northern part of the Mediterranean. In these parts it is quite intense, of good freshness and minerality, with beautiful fruity sensations that make it ideal for summer lunches. It expresses particular fruity intensity in the Colli di Luni DOC, between Liguria and Tuscany, where it gives more structure and deeper aromatic complexity.
In the area between Genoa and Chiavari, between the Val Polcevera DOC, Portofino and the Colline del Genovesato IGTs and Liguria di Levante, there are other important natives. There is the bianchetta, a white grape of delicate structure and subtle aromatic spectrum, fragrant and ready to drink, and there is the çimixià, another white grape with a very different backbone: fresh, taut, mineral, complex and broad in its bouquet and persistence. Both give good results in the sparkling wine version, perhaps with refinement on lees at the bottom towards the sea, as has been done for a few years in Tigullio. The most significant red grape of the Ligurian Levant is the ciliegiolo. Also present in Tuscany, it gives light and fruity reds, not very tannic and quite simple, so much so that it expresses itself very well in rosés.
Within the Levant, the Cinque Terre are an island in their own right. Here the vineyards, among ancient dry-stone walls and vertiginous terraces, seem to plunge into the sea, so much so that the harvest is now assisted by monorails. The Cinque Terre DOC is a white wine from woodland grapes, well structured, albarola, fresh and fragrant, and vermentino, fragrant and elegant. A white wine to drink immediately but also to know to wait for because of its great ageing potential. The historic passito version of the same wine is the Sciacchetrà. Produced from grapes dried in suitable premises and aged for at least three years in wood or steel depending on the producer, the Sciacchetrà intrigues for its taut and mineral, sapid, salty and iodine sweetness.
Culturally linked to southern Piedmont, Liguria di Ponente expresses both continuity and discontinuity with respect to the Levant. The element of continuity is represented by the vermentino, also present here with similar characteristics. More mineral, however, the soils of this Riviera are more suitable for the pigato, a biotype of vermentino capable of a more complete and richer maturation. The pigato is a "superior" Vermentino, prince of the Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC, where even some cru can be found, such as the Marixe in the hinterland of Alba and Ranzo, even further upstream. Straw-yellow with golden reflections, it exudes complex sensations of ripe fruit, aromatic herbs, yellow flowers, minerals, and on the palate it is full, satisfying, fresh and soft at the same time, of excellent longevity.
The Imperia area, instead, is the land of the great Ligurian reds. Inland there is the Ormeasco di Pornassio, a DOC dedicated to the Ligurian Dolcetto both in the red version, fragrant but consistent, and rosé version, indicated with the name of Sciac-trà. On the border with France, the Rossese di Dolceacqua stands out, a "rock red" (this is the origin of the name of the vine) that expresses character and personality with notes that range from undergrowth to earth to toast, elegant structure, strong tannin, extraordinary persistence and excellent ageing prospects.