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Rossese di Dolceacqua

Rossese is Liguria's most Mediterranean and marine red grape, and is considered today to be representative of the western part of the region. It is a niche production for an ancient borderland vine, which is not very well known, but is able to encapsulate the most territorial soul of the Ligurian Riviera. Mainly linked to the small enclave of Dolceacqua, located just a few kilometres from the French border, it lies under the foliage of the ancient and traditional terraced trees on the high rocky hills that plunge steeply into the sea. It is a complex and fragile grape, not only because of the difficult territorial conditions, but also because it requires hard and tiring work in the vineyard, which is difficult to mechanise, making viticulture both heroic and extreme. The result is surprising: a delicate, enveloping and fresh red wine, with little colour, that smells like the sea, wild berries and Mediterranean flowers.

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Rossese is Liguria's most Mediterranean and marine red grape, and is considered today to be representative of the western part of the region. It is a niche production for an ancient borderland vine, which is not very well known, but is able to encapsulate the most territorial soul of the Ligurian Riviera. Mainly linked to the small enclave of Dolceacqua, located just a few kilometres from the French border, it lies under the foliage of the ancient and traditional terraced trees on the high rocky hills that plunge steeply into the sea. It is a complex and fragile grape, not only because of the difficult territorial conditions, but also because it requires hard and tiring work in the vineyard, which is difficult to mechanise, making viticulture both heroic and extreme. The result is surprising: a delicate, enveloping and fresh red wine, with little colour, that smells like the sea, wild berries and Mediterranean flowers.

The Challenging and Ancient Territory of the Ligurian Riviera

The Liguria region is a small strip of land squeezed between the sea and the mountains, just over 270 kilometres long and only 35 kilometres wide. Despite this, it offers one of the most scenic and breathtaking landscapes in Italy, where the long coastal strip is connected to the Apennines and the Alps by picturesque, high hills overlooking the sea. It is here that generations of farmers have reclaimed small pieces of land from the mountains to cultivate olive trees, fruit trees and, above all, vines, organising them into spectacular terraces. The tradition of vine-growing dates back to the time of the commercial expansion of the Greeks or even to the first Etruscan settlers and still today, through its ancient form of alberello cultivation, it reflects the ancient history that has shaped this land. The vine-growing area spreads from west to east, along the entire strip of land between the foothills of the first mountains and the last cliffs. From the challenging Cinque Terre coastline, famous for its Vermentino and sweet Sciacchetrà, the vines slowly climb up to the French border, in the western Riviera, in the area of the municipality of Imperia. In this area, mainly from the town of the same name, emerges a small local excellence. The Rossese Dolceacqua is a Ligurian wine, considered to be one of the most symbolic and appreciated of the region. It is cultivated in the Nervia and Crosia Valleys and also spread to the adjacent municipalities of Ventimiglia, Camporosso, San Biagio della Cima, Soldano and Vallecrosia.


Rossese: the Profile of a Difficult Grape Variety

In addition to the Valle d'Aosta and Valtellina areas, Liguria is also home to a hostile and harsh landscape for vine cultivation. In fact, the vineyards are organised in inaccessible and extreme terraces that make man's work very tiring. In this area, one can speak of "heroic" viticulture because all the operations in the vineyard are still carried out by hand and the land does not allow for the use of modern mechanical equipment. This hard and demanding work pays off with expressions of unique and unmistakable character. Proof of this is the Rossese grape, a vine traditionally grown using the alberello system, whose dome protects the grapes from the scorching Mediterranean sun. This indigenous red grape, which was appreciated by Napoleon in the past, has a medium-sized round berry with a bright red colour (hence its name). It is a very fragile variety with a low yield that ripens late, towards the last weeks of October. It produces a red wine with a fairly pale colour which, with the passing of the years or with simple ageing in wood, tends to take on more orangey reflections. On the nose it is a breath of Liguria: violets, small bramble fruits, wild spices, aromatic herbs and Mediterranean scrub, accompanied by a marine and brackish background. The sip is characterised by a fresh and enveloping structure, hardly showing any strength and intensity. A dense tannic texture and a slight bitterish persistence are the most distinctive features of the type. Among the producers of Rossese di Dolceacqua, Drigenberg and its Rossese Maccario certainly deserve a special mention, along with the artisan Nino Perrino, the renowned Ka' Mancinè and the beautiful expressions with the Superiore mention (when aged for at least one year) of Tenuta Anfosso. 


The Local Gastronomic Cuisine

This red wine, which is not too full-bodied and intense, goes well with both meat and fish dishes, especially if they are part of the rich Ligurian cuisine. This is why we recommend local pairings such as the famous trofie with pesto, focaccia di Recco stuffed with cheese, chickpea farinata, torta pasqualina, linguine with Ligurian rockfish sauce and pansoti alla genovese. The more complex versions go well with rabbit casserole, or on roasts, red meats and game.

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