On an early summer day, the Enotria crew gathered in Piedmont and after a long drive we definitely needed a restful place, hopefully enveloped in beautiful, welcoming nature… and what better than Liguria, more specifically, its Arroscia valley to welcome us?
Our host was the Durin estate that, after three generations, is one of the most representative of pigato, vermentino, rossese, granaccia, ormeasco, alicante and lumassina - all native varietals of this generous soil, where the sea is so close and the mountains loom just over the cliffs.
Antonio and his smiling wife Laura are waiting for us, ready to show us their garden bursting with tasty vegetables of the season. Next to the flowering basil and its heavenly aroma, sits a table with full glasses of Pigato, Vermentino and Rossese waiting for us. Next to the glasses are bread fresh out of the oven as well as extra virgin olive oil, cured meats and preserves, all made in house. I couldn’t dream of a better treat!
Laura starts sharing their story and we learn that Durin was the nickname of Antonio's grandfather, Isidoro, the founder of the winery. He was so tall and big that people were making fun of him one day and suddenly from Isidoro, they got to Isidurin… durin meaning “hard” or “tough”… The actual family name is Basso, but as in many northern regions of Italy, nicknames that stick have an everlasting longetivity that often outlasts the remembrance of actual surnames.
The Durin vineyards started with just 4 hectares and in just a couple of generations they become one of the references of the region. Antonio and his brothers were all doctors, but in the ‘70s the call of the land and its charm made him quit his job and go back to his roots to continue what his grandfather started at the end of the last century.
After our aperitivo, Laura takes me and Eugenio into her Jeep and onto steep pebble roads that take us to the top of the hill.
A magnificent and unique panorama unfolds: a multitude of terraces, each a very different soil from the other-- chalk, sand, then clay. The Durin family has only 16 hectares, but they are spread over 230 small plots in 4 different terraced communes. This is why they cannot work the land with tractors or machines, but just by hand, travelling frequently between the many plots.
The breeze caresses our faces and replaces the humidity of the plains that we were feeling just a few moments ago. Although quite cold at night, during the day the heat from the sea enhances the flavors and brings sapidity to the wines.
The ups and downs of this hilly land gives even the 4 gears of the jeep a hard time to get to the top. I think to myself, “How can the vines grow here? How strong they must be to resist and to express their identity!”
Liguria is a green lush region full of ‘Taggiasca’ olive groves, hills, flowers and aromas. It is apparent that this is a region of contrasts. In a few minutes you go from the beach to snowy mountains. The wines reflect this natural wonderland, having sapidity and minerality, but at the same time elegance and finesse.
People that live here have been invaded by pirates for 3 centuries and this is why they are suspicious. But at the same time, their souls are so generous and welcoming, much like their wines.
Laura keeps sharing her story and we get to know that this is the cradle of Pigato, known for its sapidity and bouquet, persistent and with stone fruit, honey and yellow fruit notes. This wine gets his name from ‘pighe’, which are small dark marks in the skin that appear when the grape is ripe. It’s the most important varietal here which was cultivated even before 1600.
We now get back to the winery where the real tasting begins!
Pigato speaks of himself, a robust and muscular wine, while vermentino seems like a shy but elegant, fascinating and perfumed girl. We then fill our glasses with rossese, the most known red of the area, light, easy drinking, versatile and inviting. Next we must accompany these ambrosia with the tasty, local cuisine:
pesto alla Genovese, coniglio alla ligure, buridda (stockfish in broth). Durin, we just want to stay!