Saturday, March 30, 2013

Beautiful White of Cinque Terre


One of my memorable wine experiences was stumbling upon a tiny, new Italian restaurant in east mid-town Manhattan during the mid-90s. Its name was Cinque Terre (Ruth Reichl later reviewed it for the New York Times in this link). There weren't more than ten small tables at the place.

The first time I sat down there for dinner I had a conversation with its enthusiastic proprietor, who showed me photos of the dramatic rocky cliffs of his native region where his New York restaurant took its name. The wine list was short but almost exclusively wines from the region that he mostly imports himself, as he said there was almost nothing available in the States. He pushed me to try the white with my seafood pasta. I immediately fell in love with it, that when I got back to San Francisco I tried to find a Cinque Terre wine but, alas, none were available.

Today, I stock the best Cinque Terre white available, it's a magical discovery that I love to share.

Cinque Terre, on the Ligurian coastline overlooking the Mediterranean, is famous for its rugged beauty. The high rock cliffs that make up the terrain are planted with vines on its dangerously steep slopes. Only winegrowers passionate about the terroir of this place carry on the tradition of winemaking started by the ancient Greeks.

Bisson, run by Pierluigi Lugano, has elevated the quality of Cinque Terre wines and, undoubtedly, makes the best examples today. He works closely with the local growers from pruning to harvest, and then he carefully vinifies the grapes.

Bisson's "Marea" is a white wine made from a blend of several traditional Ligurian  grape varieties: Bosco, Vermentino, and Albarola. The vineyards that produce these grapes are situated near Volastra in Riomaggiore, one of the Cinque Terre or "Five Lands", and also the heart of this breathtaking coastal region. It was aged on the lees for an extended period, following tradition, resulting in a rich, round, full-bodied wine, brimming with fruity, earthy flavors. Truly unique and delicious.


Cinque Terre Bianco "Marea", Bisson 2011 $29.00 (Click to buy!)

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