Quality, authenticity, history and drinking culture in Ligurian wines from the west of Genoa


To the decidedly limited and difficult production due to the conformity of the land (it is no coincidence that at the last Vinitaly in Verona in April the stand for regional wines from Liguria was entitled 'Passione Eroica'- Heroic Passion), the wine produced in Liguria is counterbalancing an increasingly appreciated quality. Many farms are finding it difficult to meet the new market requirements and some are gearing up to recover land that has been uncultivated for years and that can now offer a new opportunity. The three main wines of western Liguria, Rossese di Dolceacqua, Pigato and Vermentino, are produced by three farmers present on this platform of Youliguria agri-food craftsmanship: the Grillo and Raibaudo companies (mainly producers of extra virgin olive oil from the Riviera) and the Gajaudo company, in wine since 1986, all three located in the province of Imperia between Isolabona and Badalucco.

These three wines have a special identity with deep historical roots. The Rossese vine, of Middle Eastern origin, was brought to Europe by the Greeks who landed in what is now Marseilles. Benedictine monks introduced it to Liguria by bringing it to Dolceacqua and to France in Provence (where it is called Tibouren). It has a ruby red colour, a savoury and fragrant flavour, and a light, fruity and floral bouquet.

Pigato originated in Thessaly and arrived in Liguria via Spain in the 1600s but remained virtually unknown until the end of World War 2. It seems to have taken its name from Liguria ('pigau' in the Ligurian language means 'speckled' as the ripe grapes of the grape appear with a brownish tinge). The wine is straw-yellow in colour, soft on the palate, with persistent fruity and floral aromas and for these reasons particularly suitable for pairing with Ligurian cuisine based on aromatic herbs.

Vermentino arrived in Liguria towards the end of the 13th century and has been present in western Liguria since ancient times, perhaps coming directly from the Middle East with the Crusades, or perhaps from Aragon or some say from the Portuguese island of Madeira. It is straw yellow in colour with greenish highlights. Its aromas are floral and of aromatic Mediterranean herbs, very rich but delicate, while the flavour is dry, mineral and fresh with a tendency to bitterness.

If you aim for quality, authenticity and drinking culture, the references of the three Youliguria farms in the western part of the region are listed below.