Vermentino or Pigato….
what say you, trusty friends ?

Well….in Sardinia you say Vermentino.
In Provence you say Rolle.
In Piemonte it’s Favorita.
While in Liguria, grab a load of this, it’s actually….
BOTH Vermentino & Pigato!!

And it’s pretty much that way all along the Italian Riviera.

Heading west from Genova to Savona and on down to Imperia, this rap forms a daily part of the local wine-making scene. Stretching the grapes identity one way and then the other…as outsiders forgive us people for thinking ‘would the real Slim Shady please stand up!!’

Funny thing is, even when a wave of ’90s researchers (Schneider, Mannini, Botta, Scott et al) identified ALL the above
mentioned varieties as being ‘genetically the SAME’
(i.e. VERMENTINO), there was no phazing seasoned Ligurian producers. “Vabbene”…no matter what the DNA might suggest, these varieties remain distinct. And so on the steep mountainous coastal vineyards, particularly those of the DOC zone Riviera Ligure di Ponente, these grapes continue to be grown and harvested as individuals.

To be fair, having a shared genetic identity doesn’t necessarily equate to mean they’ll be completely identical. Ask any non-identical twin! Oh yeah, and Pigato’s got speckles! Keen as always to get our own handle on the ‘rory’, it’s time to dip some toes.

For the record, our tasting turntable is set with two from the TERRE BIANCHE Winery in Dolceacqua, west of Imperia. Previously unknown to us, the winery and this part of Liguria are geographically a stones throw from the French border and the Ligurian Alps to the west, Piemonte to the north and the summer sun-drenched Ligurian Sea to the south.

Mountainous by location, we’ve learned TERRE BIANCHE has 4 seperate vineyard parcels rising from 360 to 450mts above sea level. Surprise surprise, three of them are planted with BOTH VERMENTINO and PIGATO. All sites sound like they have an easterly aspect, with the oldest VERMENTINO vines dating from 1965 while their PIGATO vines are planted from 1991.


Luminous lemon yellow with a shimmering youthful glint of chartreuse green on the rim. A little shy to open at first. While not too intense, most distinct on the nose is a bright lemon squeeze. On the palate the initial attack combines fresh acidity with a citric effervescence, gainfully supported by a pronounced mineral spine. Impressive coastal sea saltiness adds to the crisp spritz vibe. Even though the fruit may not persist to any significant length, that tasty saline edge does. Very worthy.

Bright lemon yellow sparkle with golden reflections that catch the eye. Intense nose of fresh crushed juices – of peaches and delicious apples – dripping on dry stone walls swathed in summer yellow blooms! Juicy salted stoney bed provides the perfect foundation under a fullsome body with crisp acidity and ripe golden delicious apples singing in harmony. Subtle herbal action with some retro heat too, this Vermentino is curved, rounded and balanced. Is that a little touch of lees contact adding some rich tones? Surely one of the best, most enjoyable young whites we’ve tasted this year. Totally worthy.

Of this Ligurian back-to-back, what more can we say?

Well, the Vermentino certainly delivered a richer, broader structure. On the other hand the Pigato had that more definitive citrus zesty palate. Is this what sets these 2 siblings apart ? Others we’ve read would suggest the complete opposite to us. As yet we haven’t tasted anywhere near wide enough to make the call. But for sure both wines impressed equally with what we’d call a trademark seasalt edge.

CURIOSITY… while no-one is disputing the Italian Riviera’s hometown claim to PIGATO, our research trawl surprisingly netted a view from some who’d suggest that VERMENTINO is an ancient variety brought to Ligurian shores from Spain….even though no plausible evidence exists on the Iberian peninsula! Added to which the independent Vitis International Variety Catalogue, ‘they who know their berries’, bless Italy with the point of origin! If it is you’re still not convinced about Liguria, then going on sheer numbers alone, perhaps we’d be swayed to consider Sardinia. Afterall it’s home to Italy’s largest combined Vermentino vineyard plantation at +3000 hectares. But hey, let’s save Vermentino di Gallura for the next dance.

Either which way you spin them, seems clear, ‘PIGATO’ & ‘VERMENTINO’ swing to their own drum beats…

So on the question of hometown’s, for now, what we’d say is this… if you’ve got two white wines and a microphone then that’s got to be WHERE IT’S AT….
Yeah yeah, we’re sayin’ LIGURIA is…WHERE IT’S AT
Let’s clap some hands!!
WOW…Lovin’ where BECK is at right now :)


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