Sons of a Lesser God – Sparkling Wines from Almost Unknown Native Grapes: Pigato

24th April 2023

Pigato Olga Basura Riunda

Are you a fan of pretty unknown sparkling wines? This is for you!

In the west part of Liguria, an Italian region close to France, pigato grape is very popular for making sparkling wines.

Pigato is a white variety with a lot of features that remind you of vermentino; genetic studies include in the same family pigato, vermentino and favorita.

Pigato derives its name by the brownish spots ( pighe in local dialect) on the skin of the ripe berries; The Greeks introduced this grape from Tessaglia and from the XVII century it has been cultivated in the west part of Liguria.

The hilly territory that surrounds the city of Albenga is the best place for pigato vines: perfect sun exposition, winds that flow from the sea to the inner valley, different composition of the soils.

In the terraced vineyards you can’t work with machines and you need a lot of passion, skill and effort to run manually: Durin winery for example owns 259 plots of land and the steep slopes they cultivate in the Arroscia valley are between 70 and 600 metres above sea level.

Paolo and Laura Basso, Durin’s owners, have a great passion for bubbles; thanks to the good acidity and delicate flavours of pigato, they started a project in 2007 to produce their own classic method sparkling wine.

But in Liguria the places to store a large quantity of bottles for a long time aren’t so easy to find: they had a great idea!

They found the perfect location, with the ideal conditions of humidity, light and silence in the charm of Toirano caves.

In the darkness of the caves, near the Pleistocene Bear cemetery and the place where were found the Primitive men evidences, lie the bottles of Basura sparkling wine from pigato grape.

Basura Obscura derives from a wine produced by a cryo-maceration process and a partial refinement in old small barrels. Pressure reached around 6 atm. Lemon green color, olfactory notes of ripe stone fruits, almond, floral. It is bone dry, medium acidity, medium alcohol, creamy mousse, medium intensity and finish. Very good quality.

Minimum 24 months on the yeasts.

Basura Riunda has a brilliant straw yellow color and a fine and persistent perlage. Pressure reached around 4,5 atm. Olfactory notes of yellow stone fruits, aromatic herbs, bread and vanilla. It is bone dry too, medium + acidity, medium alcohol (it depends on the vintage) medium body, creamy mousse and medium intensity finish. Very good quality.

Minimum 60 months on the yeasts.

Durin winery also produced Basura Rosè, from two red variety (rossese and grenache), 24 months on the yeasts.

VisAmoris winery, located in strada Molino Javè in Imperia, produce very fine wines with pigato and very interesting sparkling wines.

Viss is a pet nat from pigato vines, planted on clayey soils, not far from the sea at 150 meters above sea level. It is a pretty cool sparkling wine, perfect for aperitif, with fresh acidity and fruity notes. Only indigenous yeasts, no addition of sulphur dioxide.

Vis Amoris Brut Classic Method Sparkling wine was really a challenge! Pigato grapes come from a vineyard characterized by clayey and schistous soils.

Minimum 30 months on the yeasts; olfactory notes of grapefruit, lime, and other citrus fruits and floral. Dosage 6 gr/l, creamy mousse and very nice intensity and long finish.

Vis Amoris also produces a Dosage Zero Classic method sparkling wine.

The winery started its activity in 2008 and cultivates only pigato in small vineyards, totalling 3,5 hectares.

Are ready for tasting a sparkling wine from Pigato?

Olga Sofia Schiaffino

Winelover, Sommelier, wine blogger WSET Level 3 passed with distinction. Sparkling wine addict.