Posted by: tomciocco | December 23, 2011

THE GRAPE FROM THE LIGURIAN SEA

Not from the sea itself of course, but from all of the bright, breezy, rocky, lands immediately surrounding it: Liguria, Tuscany, Sardinia, Corsica, and the Provencal coast. In the latter two, non-Italian speaking locales, the variety is called Rolle, and here, it only plays supporting roles. In Italy however, under the name Vermentino, the grape nearly always goes solo, and for me, rightly so.

Vermentino is a charming, subtley aromatic, and soft wine, but it’s not without a distinctive overall profile either. It’s a wine that matches any dish with origins in the salty deep, but it’s not a wine of great power. It is however, a wine that is very easily overwhelmed by oak, so it is only rarely asked to make its acquaintance (thankfully).

In my opinion (and the opinion of lots of other folks too) Vermentino reaches its pinnnacle in the northern Sardinian region of Gallura, but predictably these wines have become more and more scarce as the years have passed. The lion’s share of Vermentino wines are produced in other regions of Sardinia, and from Maremma on the Tuscan coast. Liguria is another heartland for Vermentino, but much of it, like most Ligurian wine in general, stays in Liguria, but that’s a story for another post…

This evening’s wine hails from a little patch of earth with the oenological denomination of Colli di Luni that actually straddles the regions of Tuscany and Liguria, north of Carrara. Though this wine is made a few clicks over into the Tuscan side of the appellation, it’s just a stone’s throw from the border, and the local grub is in many ways more Ligurian than typically Tuscan, so  I went with a Ligurian menu of a pesto bianco (pounded walnuts, ricotta, marjoram, garlic, oil) over fettuccine, and then a main course of baccala` in agrodolce alla ligure (floured and crisp fried chunks of salt cod “candied” with a sweet and sour sage and garlic coating) with the classic Ligurian side of spinach with pine nuts and raisins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terenzuola Vermentino Colli di Luni 2010

Medium straw/gold color with a slight greenish tint. Subtle but still decisive nose of citron, lemon merengue pie, almond milk, apple sauce, and flint. In the mouth the wine is texturally round and plump, but with a slicling, tart, acidity, and bright and clear flavors of pear, rice pudding, and honeycomb. The finish is clean with a lingering lightly bitter minerality.

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