Showing posts with label Vermentino. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vermentino. Show all posts

Friday, May 31, 2024

Cinque Terre - 5 Lands, 2 DOC’s

Cinque Terre, which means Five Lands in Italian, comprises five coastal villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso along the Ligurian Sea. A visit to this picturesque part of northwest Italy has been one of the few items on my bucket list. We were fortunate to spend three days in mid May exploring all five villages, enjoying the rich history and laidback culture, and savoring wonderful local cuisine and wine.

View of Riomaggiore from the water taxi

Speaking of local wine, Cinque Terra boasts of two DOC’s (Denominazioni di Origine Controllata) - a dry white and a sweet white. But first, let’s revisit the Italian wine classification for context. There are four tiers in the Italian wine classification:

Chart from

  • DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Contrallata e Garantita) is the highest classification for Italian wine. A DOCG wine is governed by viticultural zone with strict rules around permitted grape varieties, yield limits, grape ripeness during harvest, winemaking and maturation processes. There are 77 DOCG’s.
  • DOC is the next and also the most common tier of Italian wine classification. It covers almost every traditional wine style. A DOC wine is also governed by viticultural zone, permitted grape varieties, and wine style. There are about 330 DOC’s. Consistently high-quality DOC’s can get promoted to DOCG’s.
  • IGT (Indicazione Grafica Tipica) is the next tier and the latest addition to the original three-tier classification. It focuses on the region of origin rather than grape varieties or wine styles. There are about 120 IGT’s.
  • VdT (Vino da Tavola), otherwise known as table wine, is the most basic classification. You can still find high-quality Italian table wine. They are just not restricted by the rules of DOCG, DOC, or IGT.
Me enjoying a Cinque Terre DOC by the Ligurian Sea

Cinque Terra DOC

Recognized in 1973, the Cinque Terre DOC is a small white wine region in Liguria. The wine is made with at least 40% of Bosco and may contain up to 40% of Albarola and/or Vermentino and up to 20% of other approved white grape varieties. The wine is typically straw yellow in color, aromatic, lively and yet delicate in palate. With a lower alcohol content that runs around 11 to 12.5%, it is perfect when enjoyed with seafood or cheeses. You can find a bottle of Cinque Terra DOC at 15 Euros a bottle.

Seafood appetizer platter

Sciacchetrà DOC

The second DOC is Sciacchetrà, which is a dessert wine made in the passito style. It shares the same grape varieties restriction as Cinque Terre DOC. In the making of a Sciacchetrà DOC, the highest-quality grapes are selected for harvest and dried often using straw mats. (Passito wine is also sometimes called straw wine.) When the sugar content in the dehydrated raisined grapes reaches the equivalent of 17% potential alcohol, then the grapes are vinified. The entire process has to be done in the DOC designated area.

View of vineyards on terraces from Corniglia to Vernazza

Because of the higher concentration of grapes to juice ratio in Sciacchetrà, the color of the wine is deeper and often ranges from golden yellow to amber. Like all passito wine, the aroma is intense with honey and raisin. On the palate, it is sweet, lively with a good structure and body. Its viscosity coats the mouth and lingers with a long nutty finish. Because of both the quantity and quality of grapes used to make a Sciacchetrà as well as the labor-intensive process involved, the DOC can run around 50 to 90 Euros for a half bottle.

My Verdict: Cinque Terre is not only a check on my bucket list, but its breathtaking beauty also nourishes my soul. Imagine my delight when I found not one but two DOC’s in the region that further elevate the local cuisine. If you are traveling to Italy, I hope Cinque Terre is in your itinerary and its DOC’s are part of your meal. Salut!