I recently started my Italian Wine Scholar studies and had a challenge choosing which region to tackle first. Do I bite the bullet and knock out the behemoth Piemonte? Start with the smallest (and possibly easiest) Valle d’Aosta? Or, do I go for the only Northern Italy region that I’ve visited and hope the fact that I’ve been there makes the information easier to retain?
This last hypothesis made the most sense to me, so I chose Liguria. We visited Cinque Terre in 2010, back when I knew a bit about wine, but was still a few years from getting serious about it. And, unfortunately, I had not yet started to keep tasting notes or bottle shots so I can’t recall the specific wines I drank while I was there. I do remember it was primarily (entirely?) white wine and it paired very well with the huge plate of pasta with pesto sauce that I wolfed down our first night in Manarola.
In reading about the region of Liguria, there is constant mention of the terraced, steep vineyards the hug the coastline. I remember this vividly because (1) I have a picture of it, 🙂 and (2) I recall the insane uphill hike we had to do in town just to get to our hotel room. Thankfully, we’d checked most of our luggage at the train station in Pisa so we arrived at Cinque Terre with only our bare necessities in backpack. This move likely saved our marriage. 😉
Anyhoo – if simply walking the area is strenuous, I can only imagine how challenging harvesting the vineyards would be. They’re gorgeous, but high-maintenance. (Think Real Housewives of Cinque Terre.)
Since I’m doing the IWS on my own and don’t have the benefit of tastings in class, I went in search of purchasing a bunch of Northern Italian wines at one of the local wine stores. M&S (or as I’ve started thinking of them: “Mute and Snobby”) has an awesome selection of international wines, but their lack of customer service is almost laughable. Both times I’ve been in there I’ve barely been given a hello upon entering, and nobody has offered assistance. Even after piling several expensive bottles on the counter – this garnered me a look and a nod, but that’s it. No “great choice! This wine is delicious!” or “I’m curious – what are you doing with all these Italian wines?” I’ve heard and read that this “hands-off” approach is kinda their schtick, but it’s a very bizarre way to go about a retail business. Shrug.
Anyhoo (again) – the only wine M&S had from the Liguria region was a Pigato. I scooped it up and have been sipping on it the past couple of nights. It’s growing on me:
Punta Crena “Vigneto Ca da Rena” Pigato 2014, Riviera Ligure di Ponente, Liguria, Italy.
Medium lemon-gold color. Aromas of honeysuckle, beeswax, pear, yellow apple – with tons of salinity/sea spray and herbal notes. Medium plus bodied (almost viscous, like Viogniers can be), with flavors similar to aromas plus a slightly bitter finish. The wine is interesting, but I’m not sure how much I subjectively enjoy it. Tastes like yellow fruit that’s been sprayed by the salty sea. Was better this eve when paired with a crisp salad than on its own yesterday.
Liguria is one of the nine regions covered under the Northern IWS exam and after spending the past week on this area I’m confident that I’ll be able to nail the 0.08% of exam questions on this region. 😉
Here’s the outline on Liguria.