If you think the Cinqueterre are important just for spectacular views and day hiking, think again.  Campogrande winery is out to prove that the Cinqueterre means business.  Serious wine business, anyway.

This winery is driven by Elio Altare, a renowned Barolo producer, and Antonio Bonanni, a local Ligurian winemaker.  Together they craft tiny productions of three wines, which illustrate the world-class potential of Cinqueterre wines.

I tasted the dry white wine from the Campogrande lineup recently, a blend of Cinqueterre’s indigenous grapes Bosco and Albarola.  Bosco and Albarola are probably most well-known for its part in another Cinqueterre wine, Sciacchetrà, a luscious, sweet wine.  This dry wine was something altogether different.

The nose of this wine reminds me of seaweed, sand dunes, dried grasses, and hot

summer sidewalks.  Any opportunity for fruit within this wine is overwhelmed by a bracing salinity and tingling tentacles of minerality.  This wine speaks more of a very dry sherry than a traditional white wine- a lovely glass of crystal-clear seawater.

Wine like this begs for food.  Trying to sip a wine so dry and clean without a little starch or some kind of animal fat to round out the edges is a shame.  In fact, it wasn’t until we tasted the Campogrande white alongside the perfect plate of spaghetti with bottarga (a heavy dusting of dried, salted, mullet roe) and spicy Calabrian chili, that the real animal in this wine was unleashed.

In place of that salty, mineral madness a round, sapid, gorgeous umami developed.  A different wine emerged in the face of such powerful flavors and complex aromatics.  This Cinqueterre wine is a tribute to the extreme microclimates and heroic winemaking of Liguria.  It sings of the sea, and begs for the company of a little salty, fishy, spicy deliciousness to wrap its arms around.  If you can find this wine, try it.  There’s nothing else in the world like a wine from Cinqueterre, especially thanks to Campogrande.