liguria, rossese di dolceaqua -

what’s in a name?

Everyone knows the name Chardonnay as it’s so famous around the world. But in California it used to be called Pinot Chardonnay, because it’s the genetic offspring of Pinot Noir. That’s another famous name which in Germany is called Spätburgunder and in Austria Blauburgunder—Chardonnay in Austria is called Morillon. Other members of the Pinot family also have various names: Pinot Gris was historically called Fromenteau in Champagne and Beurot in Burgundy and has the literal translation of Pinot Grigio in Italy; in Germany it’s called Grauburgunder (spot the Burgungder = Pinot theme).

If that’s confusing enough—and these are well-known, familiar varieties—it gets worse when grape varieties have the same name but are completely different, something which Italy is notorious for. Vernaccia is a catch-all for several local, unconnected varieties planted across Italy; a lot of regions have varieties called Trebbiano, usually no relation to each other; Bonarda in Italy is not the same as Bonarda in Argentina, which in California is called Charbono, in France Douce Noir, and in Italy Croatina.

Which brings us to a wine I just got into the club: a wine by Tenuta Anfosso called Rossese di Dolceaqua Superiore, a series of labeling terms which may not mean much to people outside the Italian wine industry, but don’t let that distract you from a what great wine it is.

The region is Dolceaqua, which is on the Ligurian coast right next to the French border, the vines planted on steep, terraced slopes. It’s an extremely historic region but the difficulty of farming meant that Anfosso was one of the few producers to keep the tradition of grape-growing and winemaking alive.

The grape variety is Rossese di Dolceaqua—and true to Italian form, its name immediately leads to confusion. There are five white varieties all called Rossese Bianco which are completely different, but this one is red. Within Liguria, there is another similarly named variety called Rossese di Campochiesa, which is often used in blends for early-drinking wines with red fruit aromas. From the same region, with the same name, it was long assumed they were the same variety. But Rossese di Dolceaqua produces more concentrated, tannic, and ageworthy wines which feel very Italian—although styles vary according to producer. Across the border in Provence, Rossese di Dolceaqua is called Tibouren, planted mostly by one producer, Clos Cibonne, which has featured in blackpoolmatt’s wine club in the past. It's quite ironic that wines made from Rossese di Dolceaqua taste so Italian, when the variety may originate from across the border in France.

The only thing that matters, though, is what the wine tastes like. My tasting note was: "unmistakeably Italian: pale-colored with red cherry, raspberry, dried flowers, sweet spice, black pepper aromas, and a crunchy mouthfeel with high acid and drying tannins." If you like Italian reds, this absolutely ticks all the boxes.

All these confusing names don't help in picking out a wine, but that's what blackpoolmatt's wine club is here for...