Friday, August 3, 2012
Wine in the Cinque Terre
Recently Monterosso hosted the ‘VinVagando’ (Wine Wandering) wine event which discussed, promoted and celebrated wines from the winemakers of the Cinque Terre by offering guided tastings, panel talks by the winemakers and local officials, and giving space for interaction between producer and consumer. The focus of the evening was the the ‘Expressions of the Territory’: therefore the unique expressions of the wine as well as the winemaker within the Cinque Terre.
Winemaking has been the crucially important to the formation and growth of the Cinque Terre villages throughout their history. The incredible terracing which defines the coastline surrounding the towns was created over the course of a thousand years to create space to place the vines. The entire economy revolved around the sale of wine, mostly through the Genoese Maritime Republic’s vast commercial network which took the wine all over the Mediterranean basin and even as far north as Scandinavia.
The Cinque Terre makes two types of wine, which are both sold under the denomination of controlled origin label entitled ‘Cinque Terre D.O.C.’ .
Both wines are made from the same 3 white grapes; bosco, albarola and vermentino. The dry white wine, which is simply called ‘Cinque Terre D.O.C.’, is a straw colored, light bodied dry wine. Its main characteristics are is fresh acidic bite and interesting minerality. Within the glass you can smell aromas of the surrounding lemon trees and wild herbs. You can vaguely taste a salinity from the craggy rocks in which the roots grow and the salt air surrounding the plants. This combination makes it a perfect match for the simply made fresh seafood or aromatic pasta dishes (like pasta al pesto) that you’ll find on the Cinque Terre menus.
The second type of wine in the Cinque Terre is the ‘Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà D.O.C.’ . This unique wine is made from the best bunches of grapes of the harvest each year. These grapes are then hung to dry in the cool, dry darkness of a cantina for at least two months. After this period, the grapes are pressed and the wine undergoes a slow fermentation. Sciacchetrà is not sold without having at least 2 years of aging.
The slow dehydration of the grapes before pressing concentrates the sugars as well as all of the complex flavors contained within the grape resulting in an amber colored wine that has intense sweetness but with an interesting acidic and mineral edge that balances the high sugar content. It is delicious with desserts but also with strong tasting or aged cheeses, such as gorgonzola or an aged pecorino or parmigiano.
Whereas the dry Cinque Terre wine is best drunk young, Sciacchetrà can be aged for decades.
In any case, the Cinque Terre wines are the natural match to pair with your meal during your stay here. Not only are they wonderful wines, suited to the local cuisine, but they are also full of generations of history and backbreaking labor. By supporting the local production, you are also helping safeguard the traditions of the Cinque Terre.
Photo credit : Mauro Fioravanti