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Prima Terra, “Cericò” RossoLiguria, Italy 2015 (750mL)

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Prima Terra, “Cericò” Rosso Liguria, Italy 2015 (750mL)

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If you’ve ever been to the Cinque Terre, in Italy’s Liguria region, you probably drank a local wine that ranked among the best of your life. But when you re-visited that wine later, removed from its (spectacular) place of origin, was it everything you remembered? Yeah, maybe not. Let’s face it: It’s no small achievement for a wine to live up to a setting like the Cinque Terre, so when something like Prima Terra’s “Cericò” comes along—a wine that doesn’t merely “live up” to its place but re-defines what’s possible there—it merits all the fanfare we can muster.


Cericò is a succulent and brilliantly aromatic blend of Grenache and Syrah that does proper justice to the wonderland that is Liguria. This region accounts for only the tiniest sliver of Italian wine production, which makes sense since it’s a tiny sliver of land, dominated by the Maritime Alps. It is exceedingly difficult to make wine here, and as a result, many producers have moved on to other things, but Prima Terra’s Walter De Batté is a notable holdout: He’s one of the few wine celebrities in this out-of-the-way region, having made his name producing Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà, a honey-rich passito (dried-grape wine) to rival the great nectars of Sauternes. With Prima Terra, he again reveals the Cinque Terre to be much more than just a pretty face: Not only is Cericò incredibly rare and unique, it’s serious, too—a must-try for any seasoned wine adventurer.



Because of the fragmented nature of vineyard ownership in Cinque Terre, and the small size of most individual holdings, wine production in the region has long been dominated by a regional cooperative, for which Walter DeBatté once worked. The wines he released under his own label, including those justly famous Sciacchetrà bottlings, were among the few examples of “estate-bottled” Cinque Terre wines seen in export markets. With Prima Terra, De Batté does not use the Cinque Terre DOC designation on labels, not wanting to be hemmed in by the “bureaucratic” constraints of an official denomination of origin. Cericò is bottled instead as a vino da tavola (table wine), offering him greater flexibility to showcase the terroir to its fullest. The Prima Terra winery is in Campiglia, in the province of La Spezia, with vineyards concentrated mostly in nearby Riomaggiore, along with a few sites across the border in the Colli di Luni region of Tuscany. 


The Cinque Terre is a national park, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but viticulture has been on the decline in recent years, despite the ancient history of its remarkable stone terraces. De Batté’s carefully assembled parcels, rooted in soils combining sandstone, clay/loam, and schist, are strongly reminiscent of some of the vineyards of the Northern Rhône, and while Grenache is more commonly found in these parts, Syrah has a significant foothold in the region as well—much as it does throughout the Mediterranean basin. There are a lot of similarities between De Batté’s Cericò (80% Grenache, 18% Syrah, 2% Vermentino Nero) and reds found throughout Southern France—be it Provence, the Southern Rhône, or Languedoc. The warm, plush red fruit of the Grenache is pointed up by the meaty savor and black pepper spice of the Syrah, the wine shot through with the same aromas of garrigue (scrub-brush) found in some many southern French reds. Liguria is an extension of France’s Mediterranean Riviera, with the same aromatic herbs and bushes (here called mácchia) growing alongside the vines.


Technically speaking, a wine bottled as a “table wine” is not allowed to carry a vintage date, so the only indication you’ll find that this wine is from 2015 is a lot number (L7/15) in small type along the edge of the label. Cericò is sourced from an old-vine parcel co-planted to Grenache and Syrah at 500 meters’ elevation, looking southward down at the sea. The wine was fermented slowly, with a long maceration on its skins, before 18 months’ aging in 550-liter Slavonian oak barrels. It spent another eight months refining in bottle before its initial release and is now in beautiful drinking condition—silky smooth, a little sappy, but loaded with mouth-watering freshness. It’s a deep garnet-red in the glass, with aromas and flavors that initially put you in the mind of a classic, Grenache-driven Châteauneuf-du-Pape: cherry kirsch, raspberry, macerated strawberries, orange peel, red currant. But there are also some darker notes of licorice, violet, black pepper, and black plum, as well as the pronounced herbal/lavender note typical of Mediterranean reds. It is full-bodied but not aggressively tannic, with plenty of freshness to prevent it from feeling syrupy. It’s a plush and exotic tour-de-force of a red, great for cold-weather sipping and well-suited to some lamb shanks in a rich, tomato-y reduction or a classic eggplant “parm.” It’s not “classic” to Liguria, mind you, but it’ll work. Enjoy!




Prima Terra, “Cericò” Rosso Liguria, Italy 2015 - SommSelect

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionLiguria
  • Sub-RegionCinque Terre
  • SoilSand, Slate, Loam
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendGrenache 80%, Syrah 18%, Vermentino Nero 2%
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • Oak550L Slavonian Oak Barrels

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionLiguria
  • Sub-RegionCinque Terre
  • SoilSand, Slate, Loam
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendGrenache 80%, Syrah 18%, Vermentino Nero 2%
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • Oak550L Slavonian Oak Barrels
  • Temp.Serve at 60-65° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2024
  • Decanting30 Mins
  • PairingEggplant alla Parmigiana