It’s time to head back to Italy for this week’s notable wine. That means it’s time to learn about another new obscure grape that you probably have never heard of from a region you’ve heard the name of, but don’t know where in Italy it actually is located.
Liguria, of course best known as the home of pesto, is the thin, wrap around region of Northwestern Italy, sandwiched by the more glitzy French and Italian Rivieras. Genoa is Liguria’s primary town and Italy’s busiest seaport. Or you may know it as the home town of Christopher Columbus.
Liguria’s Ortovero Valley is also the home of the mostly unknown Pigato grape, a more lively, full bodied white, without the buttery textures of a Chardonnay. Pigato is most often compared with Sauvignon Blanc, yet it boasts almost none of the sweet fruit and wet stone that varietal is known for. Pigato is very floral and the fruit notes veer towards more mellow flavors such as mango and green melon.The Basso family runs the Durin Winery in the town of Ortovero, crafting Pigato, along with Grannacia, Ormeasco, Rossese, Alicante, Lumassina, and Vermentino (what, what, and what?). “Durin” comes from the nickname given to the generations of males in the Basso family, including the present winemaker Antonio Basso.
Boasting a radiant straw color that almost borders on golden, the nose is very floral and the body slightly dry, without any acidity detectable. Honey comes into play with a slightly tangy finish, possibly a little too dominant a white for a dominant sauce such as pesto. It’d be better to side with an egg filled raviolo in brown butter, or even a roasted chicken. The idyllic pairing would be a lovely whole roasted, salt crusted branzino, marrying a salt water tasting fish with grapes that are heavily influenced by the sea, and will not cover up the fish, but compliment it.
Another new varietal to learn about and this one is worth remembering. 2010 may seem a little soon for this Pigato. At the same time, youth provides more brightness and spark to this very well rounded wine. I truly believe the emphasis on calmer fruits comes from this fact the terroir is so near to the sea and because of the youth of this vintage.
Seek out Pigato, in particular Durin’s rendition. It will soon be on your short list of favorite white varietals.