Italian Wine Club - March 2021

Two Ligurian stunners from Durin:
Durin Pigato  (Sustainable with Natural Farming and Winemaking practices)
Durin Rossese - (Sustainable with Natural Farming and Winemaking practices)

A bottle of each

 

Four generations of the Basso family have lived and worked in the mountains above the Mediterranean sea—less than three miles away as the crow flies—struggling with the elements to care for older vines grown in garden-sized plots more suitable for gnomes.  Liguria’s vibrant patchwork of vines, fruit trees and wild scrub has one particular star: Pigato.  This family estate is unquestionably a pioneer in exploring the seemingly infinite potential of Pigato on these rocky slopes, not only through their selection of single-vineyard bottlings but also through sparkling wines, stored for years in the Grotto di Toirano, an ancient cave with near-perfect humidity and temperature for extended wine aging.

The Basso family over generations has expanded their small holdings—literally some 259 separate vineyards, most just a handful of vine rows—in the plains around the village of Ortovero and coiled around the region’s terraced and steep hillsides, cut over the ages by the Centa and Arroscia rivers.  Vineyard altitude ranges from as low as 150 feet to as high as 1,400 feet; soils are equally varied, from dark, fertile patches to ruddy, iron-rich soils, to the “terra bianca” mix of white clay and sand.  The valley channels the cooler winds that sweep south from Piedmont, moderating the summer’s warmer temperatures; a boon for the cultivation of balanced white grape varieties. The family’s ‘Taverna’ vineyard, planted in the village of Onzo and exclusively to the Pigato grape, is a 17-acre plot and as such, is the largest in the region. Many of the estate’s Pigato vines were planted by Antonio Basso’s grandfather, and are now 70 to 80 years old.

Harvest is as a rule by hand, and grapes are cared for as naturally as possible. In general, white grapes are macerated in tank for one day then pressed; juice is fermented on indigenous yeasts at low temperatures. Reds are fermented and aged in tank.

Durin Pigato Riviera Ligure di Ponente (Sustainable) 

The grape in this crisp white wine is called Pigato in Liguria  but it's the same grape that is known as Vermentino in Liguria and Sardinia, as Rolle in the Côte d'Azur, and as Favorita in Piemonte,  Confused?  Don't be, welcome to the wonderful world of grape name confusion! 

Winemakers in Liguria will swear that Pigato and Vermentino are different varieties, and looking at plantings side by side, the leaves, bunch shape and grape certainly look different, but the difference is a clonal variation, sharing the same genetic material.   (Pigato is dialect for spotted, and Pigato grapes certainly have freckles!)

Having said that, both Vermentino and Pigato have a crunchy sage, rosemary and thyme essence and salinity,  with Pigato being more, aromatic, and broad, with less high-toned acidity and a trademark pleasantly bitter edge.

 1 durin rossesse1 web

Riviera Ligure di Ponente Rossese

The rare Rossese grape (known as Tibouren in nearby Provence) is much beloved and greatly respected by the tiny number of producers who work with it and understand it. The labor of love required to farm Basso’s vineyard sites results in one of the world’s most charming, saline, sea-kissed, transparent red wines.

Durin’s  Rossese is limpidly garnet  in color followed by an exotic, orchard-fruit nose of wild cherries, apricots, persimmons, lilac, and pink peppercorns. Juicy and bursting with tart cherry, fig and strawberry fruit, the wine adds notes of rhubarb, lavender, sandalwood, and cinnamon-scented potpourri. Lingering impressions of sweet cherries come to the fore on the wine’s brilliant red-fruited finish. Joyful, distinctive, and a wonderful choice for a late summer or early autumn red, enjoy Durin’s Rossese now and over the coming two years with grilled anchovies, fritto misto, pizza, dry-rubbed baby back ribs, and sautéed squashes.

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