Italian Indigenous Grape Varieties: Albarola from Liguria

There are more than 3000 registered Italian grape varieties and many say there are as many as 15,000 varieties. Whatever the exact number is, I have begun a grape variety series on indigenous Italian varietals. I am learning and relearning many wonderful things as I work my way through the alphabet and
remember wonderful trips I have taken around Italy. One of my all time favorite restaurants is in Monterosso, Ciak. While it looks very touristy, they have the best fish ravioli I have ever eaten in over 15 years living in Italy and 20 years going there on a regular basis. Needless to say, try them at the very least.

The most recent piece I wrote is about, Albarola, one of the local grape varieties from Cinque Terre, the area of Liguria famous for its beauty.

Liguria is a long and thin region which borders on France in the West and runs to Tuscany in the East. Renowned for its extremely picturesque landscapes and closely huddled mountain towns, Liguria also produces a number of DOC wines. The wines from the Cinque Terre or five towns have been famous for centuries. They were mentioned by both Petrarch and Boccaccio. The five towns, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are all connected by intricate walking paths and are a favorite with Italian and international tourists. Viticulture in this area is done by hand without the use of tractors. The vines tend to grow on terraces on small plots of land. While they are beautiful to the eye, it makes for very difficult planting and harvesting.

Among the wines are a dry white named Cinque Terre DOC and the dessert version of this wine called Sciacchetra’. Albarola is one of the local grape varieties which is part of the blend that produces these two wines. The other two varieties in the blend are Bosco and Vermentino. Albarola is a small grape which is light bodied and somewhat neutral in flavor when it is young. There are more than 20 synonyms for this grape variety including Calcalella, Temosci, and Madea. As the wines made with this grape mature, they take on honey, floral and perfume aromas. In order to read the rest of this story, check out the Altacucina website.


  1. Cinque Terre wine is now being brought in to the U.S. in greater quantities. Here’s a press release on it…


    — Expands Presence in U.S. Bringing Coveted and Rare DOC White Wine Nationwide for First Time —

    NEW YORK, March 18, 2009 – In a milestone for the Cinque Terre National Park, one of Italy’s most visited destinations, it was announced today that its renowned DOC white wine will now be available for the first time throughout the entire United States.

    The export agreement, with Roslyn, NY based importer, Biagio Cru and Estate Wines, is the largest international accord ever for the Cantina della Cooperativa Agricoltura delle Cinque Terre, a National Park-run co-op winery with 220 member farmers.

    “This historic agreement will allow Americans to stay connected with the Cinque Terre all year-long, not solely during their last memorable visit here,” said Franco Bonanini, president of the National Park of the Cinque Terre. “Cinque Terre DOC wine is a wonderful, food-friendly wine which embodies the passion, flavor and beauty of our land and people,”

    The Cinque Terre (or ‘Five Lands’), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consists of five-pastel colored villages hugging the cliffs of the Mediterranean Sea: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. A favorite among hikers for its vast and panoramic trails, snorklers for its protected and colorful seas, and lovers for the Via dell’Amore (the ‘Street of Love’), the Cinque Terre has become one of Italy’s most visited tourist destinations.

    “Cinque Terre DOC is made with grapes grown on the steep and sometimes treacherous cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. So it has qualities unique to this region which make it available only in very limited quantities,” said Darren Restivo, marketing director for Biagio Cru. “Biagio Cru is very excited to bring this delicious wine to all of those who have been to the Cinque Terre and want to return, and for those who dream of going there one day.”

    Made from a blend of Vermentino and two grapes unique to the region, Bosco and Albarola, Cinque Terre DOC has a beautiful floral bouquet, with hints of tropical fruits and a refreshing mineral finish. The wine is perfectly matched for cuisine typical of the Cinque Terre such as seafood and pesto dishes or simply as an aperitif.

    “This agreement is truly a milestone for our wine and the Cinque Terre brand which has grown incredibly in recent years,” said Matteo Bonanini, president of the Cantina della Cooperativa Agricoltura delle Cinque Terre. “Through Cinque Terre DOC, Americans will now be able to taste and feel the love we have for our land and cuisine.”

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