Albarola is a white wine grape native to Italy. It is described as a ‘neutral white grape disappearing from the Cinqueterre zone of Liguria in north-west Italy,’ (Oxford Companion, 2015 p.10). In Liguria, the name Albarola is used for this variety from La Spezia and Sarzano into Massa Cararra and Pisa provinces in Tuscany. The ‘alba’ part of its name may derive from the grape’s pale translucent berries, like the pale dawn light, ‘alba’ being the Italian term for dawn.
In Liguria: In Liguria’s Val Polcevera and Riviera di Levante the Albarola is referred to as Bianchetta Genovese or simply Bianchetta. The grand cru area for Albarola is the Missano area in Liguria, from where the grape probably originated. Wines made with 100% Albarola include Golfo del Tigullio DOC (this also allows a rare, air-dried, sweet passito version) and Val Polcevera DOC (with its sub-zone Coronata). In the Cinque Terre Albarola is used in blends with Bosco and Vermentino for both dry white wines and air-dried passito winnes.
Viticulture: The low pergola (canopy) training system is common in the Cinque Terre and allows greater protection from sunlight and heat, more even ripening and thus better quality wines.
Soil: Albarola does best in a very friable, dry, rocky, hills soil called ‘tarso’. This is typical of the Chiavari-Sestri Levante area.
Typical flavours: Citrus, almond, minty-saline. In warmer, lower sites Albarola develops more tropical and floral notes.
Wines: Golfo del Tigullio Portofino DOC (Liguria). | Golfo del Tigullio Portofina DOC Passito (Liguria). | Val Polcevera DOC (Coronata is a sub-zone).
Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p154-5.
Oxford Companion to Wine 4th edition ed. Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW (Oxford University Press, 2015), p.10.