Border vines: The Ormeasco di Pornassio

There are days when you bless bad weather. The absence of full sun raises an irrepressible desire to move, explore and discover; new wines and unknown wineries, of course.

First stop: Pornassio Castle, a beautiful and silent setting between Western Liguria and the uninhabited part of Piedmont, along the road that leads to Col di Nava, Arroscia Valley. Here people cultivate a grape called Ormeasco, the Ligurian synonym for Dolcetto, whose final product, the Ormeasco di Pornassio (in all its forms: Ormeasco di Pornassio, Ormeasco di Pornassio Superiore and Sciac-Trà) has earned the DOC.

The altitude and the slopes, reaching 550 meters above sea level, allow a production that varies from 20 to 25,000 bottles a year, depending on weather conditions. Here, in a place that closes the valley, between mountains and sea, the grapes spend a life cycle in ideal exposure conditions and give birth to an ancient wine.

“Carlo, a couple wants some wine”. We are welcomed by Carlo, Elisa’s husband and Raffaele’s brother-in-law, and Agostino Guglierame, a family that has been running the company for generations. We could not have asked for a warmer reception. Carlo speaks about his origins from Lombardy and the love that in the past tied him inextricably to Liguria and Elisa.

He welcomes us on the ground floor of the Castle, between what remains of an ancient village that has always seen the hands of a man working the land. In 1303 the Marquis of Clavesana, who at the time lived in the Castle, planted here the first vine, in an area historically vocated for the production of wine. This is attested by archival documents and the Statute of the Gestores Universitatis Pornaxi, drawn up by the Notary Gandalini.

The Castello winery produces three types of wines, two vinified in red and one in white, giving birth to the “Sciac-Trà” version, an Ormeasco in its coral variant. Let’s start from the beginning. On the Ormeasco Superiore there is no reason to debate. Ruby stone in colour, firm, clear, and dry, it is selected in limited quantities and aged in wooden barrels. It rests in the bottle for at least a year and thus earns the appellation Superiore.

Delicate and sharp at the same time, with a strong but reserved character, it is classically combined with red meats and game. According to my countercurrent spirit, I would dare drinking it even alone, without any contamination of taste, thanks to its round delicacy. To be opened at least an hour before tasting to perceive the territory.

Taking a step back, let’s give space to the Ormeasco di Pornassio, a traditional red wine, ruby and medium in intensity. Winy smell, earthy and a little bit bitter: you can figure out the surrounding mountains if you close your eyes. Drier and slightly more bitter than the brother, it radiates forest notes. It is excellent also at room temperature and combined with typical regional dishes: pasta with tomato sauce, chickpea farinata.. Cheeses, if you are looking for sublime sensations.

Finally, let’s move to the Sciac-Trà, not to be mistaken for the Sciacchetrà, a Levante (eastern ligurian) passito, produced in the Cinque Terre. Rosé, still, dry, vinous from the first sip, as proud as Imperiesi are, dry and not at all gossipy. Its name derives from the “Schiaccia e togli”- “press and remove”, a vinification method that refers to the brief contact with the skins. It has a taste that goes straight to the heart, a mouth that encloses the homeland. Perfect with fish carpaccio, divine with Vitel Tonnè.

Visiting the Eredi Ing. N. Guglierame winery reveals the value of time and the sentimental depth that contains the richness of a land handed down with awareness and constant commitment. These 2.5 hectares offer themselves to the eye with games of slopes, passion, work, sense of family belonging and love for quality of semi-unknown grapes. The wine produced by such land is able to maintain the same strong character in the provincial tavern and in the palate of refined taste hunters.




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