Saturday, June 4, 2016

Wine & Sunshine on the Italian Riviera

Welcome to our 20th Italian Food, Wine & Travel (#ItalianFWT) event where we're finally completing our first circle around all 20 regions in Italy finishing with the region of Liguria this month.  
Gulf of Poets / Golfo dei Poeti
Gulf of Poets by Susan Nelson
As I passed through Liguria headed for the French Riviera, Costa Azzurra, for my honeymoon, the stunning views from the autostrada entice you to make a stop and explore this wonderful place they call the Italian Riviera. It may be a narrow arching region up in the northwest of Italy, but it's the perfect place for some sunshine, relaxation and a little vino of course.
Visiting the Italian Riviera, Liguria
View of Liguria from the autostrada.  Not too shabby!
Where is Liguria?
Following the western Italian coastline it's the last region before you cross into France. Coming from Tuscany or maybe the Emilia Romagna, it's the perfect place to get a taste of the Ligurian Sea. Along this bright, gorgeous coastline are plenty of beaches dotted with colorful picturesque towns. It's the perfect place to getaway and escape the craziness of everyday life. The popular towns are Portofino, Sanremo, Genoa, Ventimiglia and the hikers destination known as the Cinque Terre.

Liguria is easy to get to by flying into the capital of Liguria, Genoa, with it's international airport and central train station. You can also approach the Italian Riviera by boat as well.

The Wines of Liguria
As you travel from west to east you start with the area known as the Riviera di Levante and on the eastern side is the Riviera di Ponente. In Liguria you'll find some grapes you've probably never heard of like pigato, albarola, bosco, rossese and ormeasco. Is it surprise to you we're discovering more native grapes of Italy unknown to many? That's why we're here right?!

The Riviera di Ponente (Western Riviera)
West of Genoa is the Riviera di Ponente.  This is the sunniest part of the region for grape growing. You'll find bigger, bolder reds grown here. Here you'll also discover the whites: pigato and vermentino, but the reds of this area are ormeasco, also known as dolcetto from the region north in Piedmont, and rossese. Rossese is a lighter, soft wine than ormeasco with less tannins than ormeasco.

Riviera di Levante (Eastern Riviera)
East of Genoa is the Riviera di Levante.  This is the cooler part of the region, is more shaded, and produces more mineral driven wines. The most prevalent area for winemaking here is that of the Cinque Terre. I plan on sharing this region more in depth in future articles as there is much history here and the way the grapes are cultivated are very intriguing due to it's steep vineyards. Here whites are the focus on the wine scene including the grapes bosco, vermentino and albarola. These are lighter style wines with a beautiful fragrance and crisp acidity. Perfect after the hikes between the 5 towns of the Cinque Terre: Manarola, Vernazza, Riomaggiore, Monterosso al Mare and Corniglia. 
Making wine in the Cinque Terre
Winemaking in the Cinque Terre by Mark Goebel

A special wine also hails from this area of the Cinque Terre known as schiacchetra, which is a sweeter style wine where the grapes are dried out on ventilated racks resulting in high sugar concentration and alcohol.

So the next time you want to escape to the beach consider Liguria and immerse yourself in the sunshine with a glass of vino in hand!

Join us this Saturday June 4th on Twitter live at 11am Est @ #ItalianFWT to chat about everything Liguria has to offer.