Italian Indigenous Varieties: Ciliegiolo Nero from Tuscany and Liguria

Ciliegiolo is one of those grapes that I love to pronounce with all of its’ vowels. I think it sounds sexy and it is often a component in wines that make me happy whether they be from the Maremma , the Colli Lucchesi, Chianti, Chianti Classico or from Liguria and its Colli di Luni or Golfo del Tigulio, among others.

The origin of the grape is somewhat in dispute. Some think it came from Spain, others suggest that is impossible because it is genetically related to Sangiovese. There too, it is unclear what the exact relationship is whether one or the other is the “parent” grape. Ciliegiolo also mean cherry or can be said to be derived from the word for cherry: ciliegio

Ciliegiolo is usually used as a part of a blend and brings color (ruby red), structure, alcohol  and fruit aromas and flavors to the table. What it lacks though is acidity, an essential component in a wine and one that makes it pair well with food. It should be blended with other grapes that have more acidity and less alcohol.

Novello, Italy’s version of Beaujolais Nouveau, is often made from this grape variety. While it is mostly used in blends,  some are experimenting and making it into a pure varietal wines as this blog from Maremma mentions.


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