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Ready for a journey to discover Ligurian white wine, one of the hidden excellences of Italian food and wine? On this page, we will explore in depth the world of Ligurian white wines, from their origins to the most prestigious controlled designations of origin (DOC), and discover how to pair them with the region's typical dishes.

Origins and terroir of Ligurian wine

Liguria is a challenging territory where man has had to struggle for centuries to cultivate the land. The mountainous development and steep slopes from the coast have required the ingenuity and determination of local farmers, who have created terraces to make the most of the cultivable land. This challenge has helped create unique conditions for viticulture, with vineyards often directly overlooking the Ligurian Sea.

Liguria is a narrow and elongated region with a variety of microclimates due to the influence of the sea and the mountains. This geographical diversity is fundamental for the production of unique wines, since it influences the terroir and the characteristics of the vines that acquire autochthonous specificities. The soil (calcareous, sandy or clayey) also contributes significantly to the aromatic soul of Ligurian white wines.

Liguria's Controlled Denominations of Origin (DOC) for White Wines.

Liguria is famous for producing high-quality white wines, and some of its most prestigious DOCs focus precisely on these wines. Here is a detailed analysis of the main Ligurian DOCs dedicated to white wines:

Cinque Terre DOC

This appellation encompasses one of Italy's most fascinating areas, the Cinque Terre. Here, Vermentino and Bosco, two native grape varieties, combine to create wines of excellent quality. Bosco is the main grape variety, used almost exclusively in this area, while Vermentino contributes to its flavor. The production of passito wine, in the famous Sciacchetrà subzone, reaches sublime levels of quality. Buying a bottle of Cinque Terre DOC is a guarantee for an elegant dinner of fish, shellfish and crustaceans, and can end with delicious typical Ligurian desserts.

Colli di Luni DOC

This denomination extends from the province of La Spezia to Tuscany, embracing soils of undoubted quality. Here, Vermentino is the leading grape variety, flanked by Trebbiano and Bosco. Cultivation takes place on terraces carved into the mountain by man, and the wineries operating in this area boast a strong tradition and a deep love for wine. The sea has a strong influence on the flavour of Ligurian whites, often giving them brackish aromas that combine with the nutty notes typical of the vines.

Colline di Levanto DOC

This appellation is one of the few in Liguria that also includes the production of red wines, but the whites are by far the most popular. Here, Vermentino, Albarola and Bosco are the main grape varieties. The area enjoys fertile and impervious soils, the best in the region, with clay soils on limestone and sandstone bases. The wines are excellent, with a savoury note that makes them perfect for pairing with fish and vegetable dishes. The light structure of the wines enhances the freshness and lightness of the vegetables.

Golfo del Tigullio DOC

This denomination covers the province of Genoa, where Vermentino, Bianchetta Genovese and Moscato are cultivated. These light, savoury wines are ideal with shellfish, fresh summer meals or slightly more elaborate dishes. Although they may be considered a step below the more renowned Ligurian white wines, they are gaining notoriety on the Italian scene.

Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC

This is the largest denomination in Liguria, involving about a hundred municipalities scattered between the provinces of Imperia, Genoa and Savona. It is divided into three sub-zones to emphasise the different identities of the productions. Pigato and Vermentino are the main grape varieties, and the choice of blend has a significant influence on the flavour of the wines. Depending on the combination chosen, these whites can be paired with delicate dishes such as shellfish or with richer preparations such as salmon.

Vermentino: The emblem of Ligurian white wine

At the heart of Ligurian white wine production is Vermentino, a grape variety that has found its chosen home in Liguria, spread throughout the region. This grape variety is known for its versatility and its ability to best express terroir: in each territory it has given birth to a different wine, from Levante to Ponente. From Vermentino come wines that are both fresh and complex, with a unique aromatic profile. Its aromas range from citrus and white flowers to aromatic herbs and minerals, with a pleasant savoriness reminiscent of sea breezes.

Characteristics of Vermentino

Vermentino is a white grape variety that thrives in Mediterranean climates such as Liguria. Its thick skin and ability to adapt to different climatic conditions make it an ideal grape variety for the region. Here are some of the key characteristics of Vermentino:

Fruity Aromas: Vermentino is known for its aromas of white-fleshed fruits, such as green apple and pear, combined with hints of citrus such as lemon and grapefruit. These fresh, fruity aromas help make Ligurian white wines so inviting.

Floral Notes: In addition to fruit, Vermentino offers floral notes, with hints of white flowers such as jasmine and acacia. These aromas contribute complexity to the wines and make them perfect for pairing with fish and seafood dishes.

Minerality and Sapidity: The unique terroir of Liguria, with its limestone soil and proximity to the sea, gives Vermentino a pleasant sapidity and minerality. These characteristics make Ligurian white wines fresh and lively, ideal for accompanying light, flavorful dishes.

Adaptability: Vermentino can be vinified in a variety of styles, from dry to sweet and even as a sparkling wine. This versatility allows producers to create a wide range of white wines to suit different occasions and taste preferences.

The Autochthonous Varieties of Ligurian White Wines

Besides Vermentino, Liguria is also famous for other indigenous grape varieties that contribute to a variety of unique tasting experiences. Here are some of the most significant grape varieties.

Bianchetta Genovese

In the heart of Liguria, among the hills stretching towards the sea, grows an indigenous grape variety known in dialect as 'Gianchetta', but more commonly called Bianchetta Genovese. This vine has a long history in Liguria, dating back to ancient times and contributing to the reputation of local wines.

A vine with different names, one variety

The name 'Bianchetta' is used in the Polcevera Valley and coastal areas up to Sestri Levante, but changes to 'Albarola' in the Cinque Terre and Spezzino areas. However, studies and DNA analyses have shown that these varieties are very similar, so much so that they are considered a single variety. Some historians in the 16th century claimed that Bianchetta Genovese came from the Treviso region, where it was used to soften Prosecco due to its early ripening, ideal for colder years.


Bianchetta Genovese owes its name to the fact that the berries, as they ripen, become so clear that they appear almost transparent. This vine prefers cooler conditions and is not friendly to heat or proximity to the sea, so it is grown in hilly areas. To optimize its cultivation, it is often grown together with another vine with similar characteristics, Verdiso. Bianchetta is delicate and susceptible to rot and pest attacks.

To express itself best, Bianchetta Genovese requires a particular soil, typical of the region, known as "tarso." This soil is easily crumbled, but retains the necessary moisture deep down.

The wine produced from this grape variety has a straw-yellow color with greenish highlights. Notes of field grass, flowers, fruit with hints of citrus and minerals emerge in the aromas. In the mouth it is a fine, intense, balanced wine with good acidity and sapidity, and considerable body, with a minimum alcohol content of 12%, which can rise to 15% in the "passito" version.

Coronata and the Cornigliano tradition

An area particularly associated with Bianchetta Genovese is Cornigliano and Coronata, where the vine takes on unique characteristics, giving rise to 'Coronata'. In the past, farmers in the inland hills cultivated Bianchetta to produce a simple white wine known as 'nostralino'. This wine was perfect to accompany everyday cooking.

Today, the production of Coronata is very limited. This wine has a straw-yellow colour, a delicate aroma with notes of citrus fruits and a dry flavour with a pleasantly bitter finish. It can sometimes taste of sulphur due to the characteristics of the soil, but many producers choose to preserve this peculiarity that makes Coronata unique and fascinating, recalling times gone by.


Lumassina is a wine that comes from the vine of the same name, cultivated in a restricted area in the province of Savona, between the hinterland of Noli and Finale Ligure. This wine-growing area mainly embraces the municipality of Orco Feglino and the picturesque lands around the district of Varigotti. It also extends partly into the Metropolitan City of Genoa.

An Ancient and Fascinating History

The roots of Lumassina date back to the 14th century, when it is believed to have been present in the region of Genoa. The first written records date back to 1877, thanks to the writings of Count Giuseppe Di Rovasenda, and to the Ampelographic Bulletin of 1883.

Depending on the area where it is cultivated, Lumassina takes on different names, all derived from the Ligurian dialect. The term 'Lumassina,' meaning 'little snail,' derives from its association with snail dishes. In Varigotti, this vine is known as 'Mataòssu,' a word derived from 'matti,' the dialectal form for children. This name reflects the fact that this wine never reaches full maturity. In the municipality of Quiliano, it is called 'Buzzetto,' in reference to the practice of harvesting slightly unripe grapes, known as 'buzze' in the Ligurian language.

Unique Characteristics

Lumassina is a straw-yellow wine with a generally dry flavour and marked acidity. Its aroma is delicate and evokes notes of yellow plum. To fully appreciate its qualities, it is advisable to serve it chilled, at a temperature of between 10° and 11°C.

It goes well with a wide range of Ligurian dishes. Options include classic frisceu, vegetable fritters, stuffed vegetables, panissa and farinata. This wine pairs beautifully with both first and second courses, both land and sea.

Lumassina, with its fascinating history and unique character, represents one of Liguria's wine gems, ready to delight the palates of gourmets all over the world.


Pigato is a wine with deep ties to Liguria's historical roots. Its history has its roots in distant Thessaly, from where, it seems, it arrived in Liguria in the 17th century, via a journey that took it through Spain and Corsica. The turning point in the history of Pigato came in 1830, when the archpriest of Ortovero, Francesco Gagliolo, promoted its cultivation. However, its large-scale commercialisation had to wait until 1950, when the winemaker Rodolfo Gaggino made it available to the public at the price of 300 lire.

A name linked to Liguria

In contrast to its Mediterranean roots, the name 'Pigato' is closely linked to the land where it is produced. The term comes from the Ligurian dialect 'pigau,' meaning 'speckled.' This name refers to the brown speckles that appear on ripe Pigato grapes, a unique and distinctive characteristic of this grape variety.

Pigato vs. Vermentino: Differences and Similarities

Pigato is often compared to Vermentino, another famous Ligurian grape variety, as they share many similarities. From a genetic point of view, Pigato can be considered a biotype of Vermentino. However, it is important to recognise the peculiarities of both and to know how to distinguish them.

The first obvious difference is visual: once ripe, Pigato berries take on an amber colour due to rust-coloured spots, while Vermentino berries maintain a yellow skin with green highlights. The leaf of Pigato is pentagonal in shape and medium-large, but slightly smaller than that of Vermentino. The bunch is also medium-large, with a compact pyramidal or cylindrical shape.

Pigato grows at an altitude of at least 300 metres, far from the sea, while Vermentino finds its natural habitat closer to the coast. This higher altitude gives Pigato hints of aromatic herbs and greater density than Vermentino. Both wines are known for their acidity and sapidity, but Pigato is particularly rich in yellow flesh.

Pigato: An example of finesse

Pigato is a wine of great finesse, partly due to the white soils rich in limestone in which it grows. It has a straw-yellow colour with golden highlights and offers a bouquet of floral aromas reminiscent of the Mediterranean maquis, together with notes of white and yellow fruit.

On the palate, Pigato is known for its pleasant and harmonious structure, with a fruity and fresh flavour that creates a balance with a savoury finish, enriched by light hints of almond. Over the years, aged Pigato develops further aromas reminiscent of resinous flavours.

Production Process 

The harvest of Pigato takes place after mid-September, followed by ageing for 5-7 months in steel and at least 3 months in the bottle. During this period, the bottles must be stored in a cool, dry and dark place. Pigato Riviera Ligure di Ponente D.O.C. reaches its peak with a straw-yellow colour with light greenish reflections, a delicate and fruity bouquet with hints of fresh fruit and white chamomile flowers, and a full, harmonious and full-bodied taste, together with a velvety freshness.

How and when to drink it

Pigato is the perfect accompaniment for traditional Ligurian dishes such as pansoti, a filled pasta similar to ravioli, served with nut sauce. It is also an ideal companion for pesto alla genovese, the 'king' of Ligurian cuisine, thanks to the harmony between the aromas of Pigato and those of basil. This wine also goes well with linguine or trofie dishes dressed with pesto.

Whatever dish you choose, we recommend serving Pigato at the ideal temperature of 8-10°C in a closed tulip glass, so that it can best reveal all its aromas and flavours.

Perfect Pairings with Ligurian White Wines

Liguria is renowned not only for its white wines, but also for its traditional cuisine. Here are some perfect pairings to best appreciate Ligurian white wines:

Pesto genovese

Pesto is an emblematic dish of Liguria, and pairing it with a Ligurian Vermentino is perfect to enhance the basil's aroma and the creaminess of the dish.

Chickpea Farinata

Farinata, a kind of flatbread made from chickpea flour, is another Ligurian speciality. Pigato goes perfectly with its crunchy texture and slightly salty flavour.

Salted anchovies

Salted anchovies are a Ligurian favourite. Experiment with a Bianchetta Genovese to achieve a unique balance between the savouriness of the fish and the freshness of the wine.

Cappon Magro

This traditional Ligurian dish is a work of culinary art, with layers of fish, vegetables and sauces. A Cinque Terre DOC or a Vermentino Ligure are excellent choices to accompany this complex preparation.

Focaccia genovese

Focaccia is a flat bread, often seasoned with olive oil and salt, and is a popular delicacy in Liguria. A Pigato or a Golfo del Tigullio DOC will perfectly complement your culinary experience.