The Wine of the Week: Cinque Terre Bianco
Cinque Terre is a collection of five little seaside villages along the Ligurian coast – the Italian Riviera. Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are colorful jewels on the rugged coastline. They are connected by pathways, not highways – the entire area is nearly inaccessible by car. This beautiful destination, south of Genoa, north of Tuscany, is popular with tourists from around the world – more so with the growing interest in the region’s wines.
The Italian Riviera In a Glass
Though winemaking in Liguria dates back over 700 years, there are only a few DOC designated wine regions. This is mostly due to its steep, rocky hillsides and rugged coastline. Crisp, light white wines make up most of the local production.
Cinque Terra’s white wines are made from Bosco and Albarola, two grapes that are only found on the craggy steep slopes of this small region. The more popular grape, Vermentino, is also blended in the local wines. The most popular wine produced in Cinque Terre, however, is Sciacchetrà, a honey-like dessert wine. Locals, and tourists alike, are also fond of the locally made limoncello and grappa.
Cantina Cinque Terre is the wine of the Cooperativa Agricoltura – the local growers cooperative. The Cooperativo has produced wines for over 100 years. In 1982 they built a new facility and adopted modern technology to make the best wines possible from the extremely limited, hand-harvested grape production of this tiny region.
About this Wine
This is a deliciously aromatic wine. From the first sip, aromas of ripe melon and citrus blossoms bring images of the warm Italian sun on the steep terraced hillsides. On the palate this wine is lush and refreshingly tart. The juicy melon flavors linger with the aromas of white flowers, but the flavor is intensified by the rocky mineral notes and hint of salinity – or was that just a memory of the sea air? Obviously, it carried me away!
I enjoyed this wine with fresh-from-the-garden lettuces, heirloom tomatoes, and a buffalo milk burrata. I also enjoyed it with homemade linguine with clams. The fullness of the wine balanced well with the creaminess of the burrata and the buttery garlicky sauce on the pasta. Also try this wine with crispy fritto misto, arancini, or a simple grilled fish with fresh herbs.
At approximately $24/bottle this is on the high end of my price range for weekday white wines, but it is well worth a small splurge to enjoy a wine with so much character and sense of place. It was like a little side trip to the Italian Riviera in the middle of the work week! Also note, the Sciacchetrà (passito-style dessert wine) from Cantina Cinque Terre is considered their superstar wine – I’m looking forward to trying that one some day (you can read about it here when I do!).
My new mission… to taste things I’ve never tasted before – either because I’m a snob, I can’t afford it, or it’s just a little too weird. I’ll let you know what I thought, and then you can decide for yourself if you will make the splurge, or take the leap into the strange but potentially delicious unknown!
Annette is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com. She can be found at ChefAnnetteTomei.com
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