Liguria is perhaps one of the less appreciated regions in Italy, at least as it pertains to winemaking. Located in the northwest of the country, it is a coastal region that has attained some level of popularity thanks to its gorgeous beaches, however, it is not often the first place that comes to mind for tourists who are visiting the country.
However, it is most certainly worth a visit and is also bordered by France to the west, which can make it an excellent destination for those who are travelling through Europe. Furthermore, it is also in close proximity to both the Alps and the Apennines mountains, which makes for some truly breath-taking views that can’t really be emulated by any other region in Italy.
The area if also quite hilly in nature, which can make it an absolutely superb territory when it comes to vineyards and there are many that can be seen by visitors. There are even dedicated tours that can highlight some of the more important wines that can be found in the region. When coupled with the gorgeous scenery stunning beaches and wonderfully temperate climate you have a region that is well worth visiting.
The history of Liguria stretches back almost as far as the history of mankind itself and there is considerable evidence that the region was home to Neanderthals thousands of years ago.
However, the countries true early history is linked to the rise of the Roman Empire. The Romans came to exert more influence in the region during their wars with Carthage and, though the Ligurians are believed to have mostly sided with Carthage during the war, they appear to have eventually adapted to the Roman way of life. Roman roads not only helped to bring the territory together but also allowed for increases in trade activity and there are a number of ruins from the era that are still visible today, including the wonderful amphitheatre of Luni.
It is also likely that early winemaking began during this period, though the region was not as well-known for it as others.
The Middle Ages
The area rose to increased prominence during the middle ages, and was often fought over by the likes of the Byzantines, Franks and Normans. However, it eventually fell under the authority of the Genoese and became part of the spectacular improvement in fortunes of that particular Italian city. At the time, Genoa was much more than a city and was considered to be one of the primary maritime players of the era, a reputation that was much-enhanced by having the coastal Liguria under its control.
However, a combination of internal strife and challenges from the Milanese lead to a tumultuous period for Liguria. The stress caused the regions doge, Antoniotto Adorno, to surrender Liguria to the French in 1396, but the region was soon brought back under Milanese control and remained so until 1435.
The altercations between the Milanese and French over the region persisted well into the 16th century, however, an eventual union with the Spanish monarchy brought about a period of peace and stability that stayed for more than two centuries.
However, the rise of Napolean led to a renewed period of instability and the region soon fell under the control of the French, where it was made a republic much in line with the French Republic of the time.
Following a brief period of independence, it was decided by the Congress of Vienna that Liguria would fall under the control of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Though this signalled another tumultuous period at first, the region soon began to benefit again and it became something of a colossus of industry in Italy thanks to its new steel mills and shipyards. In fact, that increase in marine capability also brought along with it a level of commercial success the likes of which had never been seen in the region.
Of course, as interesting as all of this is it doesn’t explain about the wines that are native to Liguria. As the region has so long been a centre of industry and maritime activity, it perhaps does not have the distinctive history of so many other regions in Italy when it comes to wine.
Though it is certainly likely that wines have been produced in the area in the past, it is probably that such wines were maintained at the local level and may have simply been provided to other residents of villages or simply shared amongst the family.
However, with the recent change in direction for the region into more of a tourist destination, the local winemaking has begun to flourish and the region is not responsible for one of the best Italian wine to be made during the modern period.
Founded as recently as 2003, the Poggio dei Gorleri company was the result of the shared passions of Giampiero Merano and his two sons and his quickly set about building a reputation for itself amongst the great winemakers of the current era.
Their aim was simple – to create a modern wine that would represent everything that Liguria has to offer while also leaning towards modern winemaking techniques. This eye for innovation and continued improvement has meant that the wines produced by the company have already attained a level of quality that puts them up there with some of the best Italian wine of the day.
Perhaps their most famous vintage is the Poggio dei Gorleri Riviera Ligure di Ponente Pigato Albium. This gorgeous white wine features notes of vanilla, which are complemented by hints of minerals and iodine to create a truly unique white wine that is quite unlike anything else produced in the region.
A spicy aftertaste awaits those who spend the time to get to know the wine and it is fast building an enviable reputation that suggests it is well worth trying for those who want to explore Italian wine a little more and find little-known vintages.