Bring me your strange, your rare, your unusual wine. I will find a place for it at AOC. This is basically the criteria for wine vendors to follow when presenting wines to me for the list at AOC. Tara Gano helps me buy wine for the list there, and we always look forward to seeing what new treats people will have for us each week. It's actually incredibly fun to be able to taste wines that are off of the radar for most traditional restaurants and makes the whole process that much more interesting and educational.
Today's unusual little sip was the 2007 Claudio Vio, Pigato, Riviera Ligure di Ponente. Pigato is a white grape variety grown mainly in the coastal northwestern Italian region of Liguria. Pigato is akin to Vermentino in its high-toned, floral aromatics and light body. The Claudio Vio Pigato however, is like no other Vermentino I've ever tasted. Claudio Vio hand harvests his miniscule amount of Pigato from vines planted on extremely steep hillsides, ferments it and ages it in stainless steel. He farms his two hectares sustainably and bottles a mere 100 cases of the wine annually.
What is unusual about this wine is that it barely resembles Vermentino at all. Rather than being overwhelmingly floral and light, this wine indulges the palate much more deeply. On the nose, soapy lavender and honey mix with hints of pepper and savory green herbs. On the palate is another dimension completely. Salty mineral notes intermingle with aromatic baking spices of cardamom and cinnamon in a sea of incredibly oiliness and rich texture. Though the wine is perfumed and weighty, it maintains an elegant acidity that keeps it tight and balanced. I lingered on this wine for a while, tasting it over and over making notes about how crazy and odd this wine was, and how much I liked it.
The vendor was kind enough to leave the rest of the sample bottle with us and I've been counting the hours until I can indulge myself in a whole glass of the stuff. I'm going to sit down with a plate of salty Italian cheeses and Pigato out.