Showing posts with label Liguria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Liguria. Show all posts

Monday, November 5, 2018

Italian Wine Shopping

Shopping for Italian wines in a place that really "gets" Italian wine is a fantastic experience.  There are several small shops in Los Angeles that fall into that category, and Eataly gets Italian wine, too, although the space isn't exactly small.  It's a big, Italian grocery market with an extensive wine section.

Normally, my wife would be the one wanting to linger a bit longer in an Italian market, but the wine section offers me a chance to browse a bit, too.

Possa's 2014 U Neigru is a Ligurian red wine made from half Canaiolo grapes and half Bonamico, grown on 45-year-old vines in sandy soil.  The wine spent five days on the grapes skins, fermented spontaneously with indigenous yeasts and was aged for nine months on the lees in chestnut and oak barrels.  I had never encountered chestnut aging before, and I'm told it has a neutral effect.  Alcohol comes in at a low, low 12.0% abv and it sells for about $27. reports that Samuele Heydi Bonanini started the winery in 2004 on the steep cliffs of the coastal Cinque Terre region.  He harvests his grapes by hand, since no machinery can fit in the narrow space.  He uses chestnut wood in the aging process because it's a local tradition.

This 2014 natural red wine has an incredible nose that's loaded with minerals and earth.  Loaded, as in like never before.  It also displays aromatic herbs and has a strong floral aspect.  The palate is savory to the nth degree, downright dusty in fact.  Red cranberry and raspberry notes are traveling incognito  under the influence of the earth from which they grew.  Tannins are somewhat soft, but the acidity is bracing.  A pairing with Italian sausage is great, and it also fits well with a tomato-based pasta dish.

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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Monday, February 6, 2012


Rossese di Albenga U Bastio Bio Vio Liguria

A high point of a doctor's visit in Beverly Hills - and they are few in number - is a lunch visit to Da Pasquale Trattoria.  The family-run restaurant on Little Santa Monica Boulevard features Southern Italian cuisine in a cozy setting with some very nice wines on the list.

The tuna salad sports big chunks of the fish with cucumbers and black olives.  Taking a cue from the spring-like Southern California weather in January, I went directly to the rosé on the menu.  It turned out to be not a rosé, but a lightly-hued red wine made from the Rossese di Albenga grape grown in Liguria.   

The wine is made by a producer called Bio Vio in Italy's Liguria region.  They farm organically, they say, not because of an economic or technical issue, but because that's the cultural attitude in that region.  In addition to grapes, Bio Vio also grows olives and herbs for export.

The Rossese Di Albenga grape is thought to have originated in France, and is a fairly obscure variety today, even in Liguria.

The U Bastio cost $9 by the glass, and appears cherry red in the glass, somewhat like a rosado.  The nose shows off some brilliant strawberry aromas with raspberry and an herbal note, with some earthy qualities as well.  The taste is earthy, too, with flavors of cherry and black cherry dominating.  The tannins are almost nonexistant, so it drinks quite smoothly.