The wines of Liguria are little known beyond its boundaries but local grapes like Rosesse (red) and Pigato (white and related to Vermentino) are well worth hunting out. Picking up on a recent tweet from wine critic, Jamie Goode, who had tasted some Ligurian wines on sale in the UK, I was straight onto Red Squirrel Wine’s website to check out their range. Not long afterwards, my order of Ligurian wines arrived here in Dorset, and very promptly too I might add – great service!
The Azienda Agricola Altavia is based in Dolceacqua in Western Liguria, a medieval village in the hills above Ventimiglia. Tonight’s wine is their Rossese di Dolceacqua Superiore 2009. Rosesse has been grown in this area since it arrived from Provence, just over the border to the west. It is grown almost nowhere else in the world, and is now thought of as the red grape of Liguria, giving wines that are deeply coloured and sometimes compared to Languedoc reds such as Minervois or Fitou. In a region that is dominated by aromatic, fresh white wines, it was good to try something a bit different – I can’t remember when I last drank a Ligurian red wine. Maybe this is my first (of many I hope)?
The Altavia Rossese is bold, earthy and blackcurranty with bags of Mediterranean herb flavours and a savoury edge that worked well with our mushroom-based pasta supper. The recipe for Tocco di Funghi, a mushroom sauce with a base of pine nuts, garlic and rosemary crushed in a mortar and pestle, from Fred Plotkin’s book ‘Recipes from Paradise’ was genuinely perfect for this unusual and distinctive wine. Can’t wait to try Rosesse in situ when we visit the area in August. Salute!