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Liguria is best known for its crisp, aromatic whites—delicate, stony quaffers that get along nicely with the seafood-based cuisine. The region’s rare red wines often feature Sangiovese imported from nearby Tuscany or Granaccia (Grenache) from southern France, but many Ligurian reds spotlight indigenous grapes planted only in very localized areas. Nothing could be truer of Crovino, a dark-skinned red grown, as far as we know, exclusively by the Ruffino family of Punta Crena, in their vineyards overlooking the seaside town of Varigotti. Crovino yields low, and its berries tend to fall to the ground upon achieving full ripeness, inciting other growers to tear out their vines in favor of easier-to-grow varieties. Fortunately, we can still enjoy a taste of Varigotti history through this delightfully soft, spicy, medium-bodied red. It shines alongside Ligurian pasta dishes—pansotti with salsa alle noci (walnut sauce) is a classic.
Punta Crena Italy | Liguria | Riviera Ligure di Ponente
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch