2020 La Ginestraia, Pigato, Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC, Liguria, Italy.
The Azienda Agricola La Ginestraia is small estate in Liguria’s western most end along the Italia Riviera and very close to France, it was founded in 2007 in the tiny village of Cervo, in the province of Imperia, Liguria by Marco Brangero, who also has a Piedmonte estate in Diano d’Alba. The focus here is the local version of Vermentino, known as Pigato, which is one of the purest examples of this Mediterranean varietal that you can find, as witnessed here in Brangero’s La Ginestraia Pigato, Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC which show crystalline detail and energy, but still has a well rounded mouth feel and depth. This 2020 is absolutely delicious with mix citrus, quince and stone fruit layers rushing through the medium bodied palate along with steely mineral tones, spice, wet stones, saline and subtle florals. Vermentino is a really exciting grape, which as many note, has some qualities that remind you of Riesling, with its flinty edginess as well as having very pleasing richness and texture that highlights warm ripeness of terroir and vintage, while retaining loads of acidity, making it flexible for planting in many climates. This ability has certainly caught the attention of growers in climate change affected areas, and has now found a happy home in California, but the exceptional places for this grape continue to be around the azure waters of the Mediterranean sea, like here in Liguria, as well as in Corsica, Sardinia, Provence and the Tuscan coast. Vermentino (also known as Rolle in France) is also one of the classic Chateauneuf du Pape grapes and plays a very minor role in those white wines, where it is usually blended in with more dominant Roussanne and Clairette grapes.

The picturesque setting at the La Ginestraia winery, which is surrounded by the beauty of olive trees and the vineyards themselves, is on a small hill near the sea, a few steps from the Mediterranean in this surprisingly unspoiled part of the Italian Riviera, only minutes from the exclusive and crowded French side. La Ginestraia produces a small collection of wines mainly Pigato (Vermentino) and Rossese, which is also known as Tibouren, an ancient grape that is found in Provence, where it makes one of the world’s greatest Rosé wines. In Liguria, Rossese, in the San Biagio della Cima Dolceacqua DOC, is used to craft a lighter framed dry red that has some similarities to Nebbiolo and is quaffable like Gamay, plus it is glorious food wine. For Brangero’s Pigato comes from vines near the ancient and characteristic Ligurian village of Cervo in the province of Imperia that has a very mild climate, especially in the Ponente area. Pigato, once that to be a separate species of grape, is in fact Vermentino (Rolle) with DNA evidence proving that Pigato, Vermentino, Rolle and Favorita (The Piedmonte version) are all the same variety. This is due, as the winery notes, both to the protection from the northern winds given by the Maritime Alps, which reach 2000 meters, and the gentle mitigation of the Ligurian Sea. The Liguria region is very difficult to farm with mostly steep sites that requires lots of hand tending, with some sections being terraced to make it a bit easier, with the La Ginestraia terroir being set on clay and schist soils. This pretty golden hued Pigato, 100% varietal, from 20 plus year old vines, was fermented and aged completely in stainless steel tanks to preserve clarity and freshness, which worked brilliantly here with this vintage, making it wonderful with sea food cuisine. A big thank you to my friend Giuseppi Cossu, for again, sharing this latest vintage with me, especially on a 100F day, it really hit the spot!
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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