This month our Italian Food Wine Travel group is exploring Liguria. Where you may say? Oddly that was exactly my question before I looked it up and realized a couple of weeks ago I was in Liguria! It was only for a few hours but it was a very joyful and memorable afternoon! I cannot wait to tell you more.
As you know I spent two weeks in Italy in late April, early May. On our fantastic voyage we spent a few days in Piemonte visiting Boeri Vini in the Asti region. After three glorious days we drove from Piemonte to Florence in Tuscany. In that drive we drove right through Liguria! It was a beautiful drive along the coast of the Ligurian Sea. Thankfully one of our travel companions was born in Genoa, the capital city of the Ligurian region so we had our own tour guide.
We drove past a mountain that appeared to be covered with snow. It was explained that it was not snow on the mountain at all; rather, it was marble and this is where the world comes to buy Italian marble!
We drove quickly past Genoa and did not stop so I did not get any good pictures from the car but it was lovely. Lots of mountains, cliffs with houses built right into them and lots of tall bridges. Unfortunately there were also a lot of tunnels through the mountains so much of the beauty was hidden from us. We were headed to the commune of Recco in the province of Genoa for lunch. And boy did we have lunch!
We stopped at Tossini Recco Focaccia Col Formaggio. It is a café in the town of Recco where all the locals eat. It was packed and the food was amazing! At lunch we enjoyed a host of local delights including the famous Pesto Genovese on pasta and lasagna, the famous focaccia stuffed with warm, liquid formaggio that really blew our minds, and delicious fried risotto balls. We were in food heaven! The only problem was since our journey to Florence was only halfway complete we did not have any Ligurian wine.
After lunch we strolled a quick block to enjoy the Ligurian Sea! It was an overcast day but we still enjoyed the beach and dipping our toes in the Sea. After a fun, delicious and short break we were back on the road. And that was the end of my ever memorable Ligurian adventure!
Because I did not have any wine while in Recco I had to hunt some down in Dallas. Growing conditions for vines in Liguria can be challenging because it is so rocky and steep; however, this did not stop the Romans and Etruscans from planting the first vines. The conditions require all vineyard work to be done by hand, the same way for thousands of years! Liguria is home to over 100 grape varieties and 8 DOC wines. Some of the better known varietals are Sangiovese and Vermentino. You can also find sparkling wines, rose, and dessert wines produced in Liguria.
Bisson Vermentino Vigneria Golfo de Tigullio 2012 DOC: This wine poured a deep straw yellow into the glass; it offered bold aromas crushed stone and graphite as a firm foundation with soft notes of citrus, toasted almonds, and nutmeg delicately balanced on top; on the palate the rich minerality penetrates the palate while a soft apple pectin dances across the tongue, this wine had layers and textures like no Vermentino I had ever had before; round and long acidity coated the palate, leaving a long and pleasing finish; it was a thoroughly enjoyable wine and paired seamlessly with the food pairing.
About Bisson from Rosenthal Wine Merchants:
Enoteca Bisson was born in 1978 when Pierluigi Lugano fell in love with the wines of the Ligurian coastline. He began as a trader in small lots of bulk wine, later became a wine merchant and finally a grower in his own right. He now splits his time between his busy wine shop in Chiavari, the wine cellar and his vineyards.
For the grapes he purchases, he works hand in hand with local growers from pruning to harvest, then carefully vinifies the different lots of grapes. Lugano is a serious student of oenology and is an expert on the local grape varieties. His passion extends to the preservation of local traditions and this is reflected in the distinctive character and personality of his large range of wines from the Cinque Terre region.
It takes a heroic effort to cultivate vines on the steep slopes of the Ligurian coastline high above the Mediterranean Sea. Mechanization of vineyard tasks is out of the question and everything must be done by hand. Only truly passionate winegrowers are willing to carry on the traditions that have come down through the generations since the ancient Greeks first planted vines on the steep, stony slopes here. Lugano works closely with several small, local growers. He believes, as we do, that wine is made in the vineyards and he closely controls the work done in the field. Further, he has embarked on an ambitious program to purchase his own parcels in prime zones throughout the Cinque Terre and surrounding areas. He staunchly defends indigenous, and increasingly rare, grape varieties and works tirelessly to ensure that they do not disappear for future generations of wine lovers.
Because I was blessed to enjoy the famous and delicious Pesto Genovese in Recco I decided to pair a simple pasta dish highlighting pesto. Though I followed the Pesto Genovese recipe my local ingredients from the grocery store were nowhere near as fresh and flavorful so the results, though enjoyable, where not the same. Additionally, I did not have any Ligurian basil or Ligurian Riviera EVOO. However, I do recommend fresh pesto over store bought any day!
They are so serious about Pesto Genovese it has its own Consorzio del Pesto Genovese. The recipe I used came from the Mangiare in Liguria web site. It is the official Consorzio recipe. I added haricot verts to the pasta since that was the way it was served in Recco. Enjoy!
Let’s see what my fellow #ItalianFWT friends have discovered in Liguria:
Vino Travels – Wine & Sunshine on the Italian Rivier
Cooking Chat – Ligurian Pesto Pasta with Wine Pairing
Food Wine Click – Trofie al Pesto with Cinque Terre DOC
Join us this morning on Twitter using #ItalianFWT at 10CST to share your thoughts on food, wine, and travel in Liguria.
My Song Selection: The Bisson Vermentino was an exciting wine. It was big and full of flavor. It was also very unique. A perfect pairing with this song.
Get your own bottle of Bisson Vermentino Vigneria Golfo de Tigullio 2012 DOC and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!