Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gifted Vermentino: La Ginestraia

Never question an Italian wine given as a gift, especially when given by an Italian.  I suppose it is a testament to the high quality of Italian wines available in the U.S. that people say you can order an Italian wine in a restaurant without a worry that it might not be good.  I have found that to be true in Los Angeles, even with wines that couldn’t sell for any more than ten dollars per bottle retail.  This gifted Vermentino probably cost up around $20.  Our friends, Guido and Tina,  gave this wine to us for no reason other than this: they like us.  However good the wines tastes, it will be hard to beat the feeling we got from their act of giving it.

Riviera Ligure di Ponente is a DOC of Liguria, north-western Italy, stretching west from Genoa along the Ligurian Sea.  It covers red and white wines from the provinces of Imperia and Savona in the western part of Liguria.

The main white-wine grape in the region is Pigato - what the locals call Vermentino.  The two grapes have been shown through DNA testing - you may have missed that episode of CSI: Liguria - to be the very same grape.  It appears in some sources, though, that the local growers disagree with that claim, saying that the grapes look different and make wines that taste different.  The crisp and refreshing wines made from Pigato pair well with the foods favored in the local cuisine.  Pesto pasta, fish and shellfish are all good matches.

Irene Virbila wrote about the 2011 vintage of this wine in the Los Angeles Times: “La Ginestraia is a new venture for Marco Brangero of Brangero in Diano d'Alba in Piedmont, already well known for his Dolcetto d'Alba.  The grapes for La Ginestraia come from a vineyard in Ortovero, seven miles inland from the Mediterranean, that dates from the 1700s.”  The La Ginestraia Vermentino is very moderate on alcohol, hitting only 12% abv.

Yellow-gold in the glass, this 2013 Ligurian wine delivers what we want from the Vermentino grape - the ocean, sea air, salt spray, salinity.  There's fruit in the nose, but it's the savory quality that gets us going, makes our eyes glaze over while perusing a wine list.  How can we seriously consider a Chardonnay or a Riesling when there is Vermentino in the house?

Apricot, citrus and a pineapple tangent burst forth on the palate, but they are the horses racing under the savory whip of minerality.  The acidity is great, the alcohol is in check and the lemon zest finish wants to stay forever.

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