Bisson “L’Antico” Çimixá
Tucked along the picturesque coastline of the Italian Riviera lies one of Italy’s most exciting wine destinations. Nestled between Francia and the Alps to its west, Piemonte to the north, and Emilia-Romagna and Toscana to its east, Liguria features jaw dropping views from a dramatic coastline.
The allure of the Ligurian seaside’s otherworldly beauty has always made it a popular destination. Interspersed between the tiny fishing communities and seaside getaways are some of the most diverse and unique vineyards in all of Italy. One would likely surmise as you look out at the vines that there would be rows and rows of Vermentino or Pigato, Liguria’s most well recognized varietals on the international stage, but more and more often these days you probably would be gazing at one of Liguria’s prominent ancient varietals making a comeback.
Enoteca Bisson has been shaping the way the wine world thinks of Ligurian wines since its inception in 1978. Pierlugi Lugano’s love for the coastline brought him to the town of Chiavari where he helped to transform Vermentino and Pigato from non-descript whites for the legions of tourists, into something truly special. He pushed the quality of Vermentino and Pigato to the point that most restaurants and wine shops in the United States carry them. But more importantly his passion and dedication for the region helped save numerous indigenous varietals from extinction that are now thriving.
Pierlugi has spent his entire life maintaining the traditions of the wine community in Liguria. Today he is the de facto ambassador of Ligurian wines. Though his Vermentino and Pigato are his best sellers, it is his work with such varietals as Çimixà, Bosco, and Albarola that get wine nerds most excited.
It is through these totally unpronounceable varietals that we get a glimpse into the past. “L’Antico” is one of Liguria’s finest examples of the tongue twisting grape Çimixà. Valuable work was carried out by Marco Baciagalupo who saved the fewer than 500 vines of the varietal in the late 1970s! Though Çimixà doesn’t have the same exposure and recognition as its better known cousins, once the wine is swished around your palate you will begin to understand why people are now paying attention to this varietal. Bisson’s “L’Antico” is pale yellow at its core with flecks of green on the rim. On the nose the wine is moderately intense with aromas of tropical and citrus fruits, a slight vegetal note, crushed rock and white flowers. On the palate, the wine is on the lighter side of medium with tightly wound energy, but great texture on the mid-palate because of the lees contact
The wine can be enjoyed all month long paired with Babbo’s Ligurian antipasto, Socca with Stracchino and Acciughe di Recco. This savory chickpea pancake, accompanied by anchovies and Stracchino cheese finds a lovely partner in the Çimixà, whose natural salinity both complements the anchovies and cuts thru the delicate richness of the Stracchino.