A Cinque Terre day trip from Florence is a definitive highlight of any visit to the area, but who knew that it is not only the fabulous views, breathtaking scenery and charming pastel coloured villages that will have you yearning to return? Because the local wine is pretty good too! In fact, the Sciacchetrà DOC is probably the most famous product of this coastal beauty spot, made even more remarkable by its production on the steep terraces that make up the agricultural land here. The makers of this vintage are known as heroic viticulturists because their job is considered so tough. |
Before you head off on your Cinque Terre day trip from Florence it’s worth finding out a little more about the Sciacchetrà DOC, so that you know what to look out for and don’t overlook what could become a firm favourite on your wine menu.
Although the origins of the name, Sciacchetrà, are unknown, some people in the know believe that it came from the Greek word ‘Shekar’, which meant a fermented drink. Others, though, more reasonably think that the word comes from a local dialect word ‘sciaàca’, which means to squeeze or squash and refers to the method used to make the wine.
It was indeed the ancient Greeks that first inhabited this area and began a crude viniculture that was refined by the Romans soon after. During the Middle Ages the concept of terracing was initiated in the area, making it possible to grow the vines more effectively on the steep cliffs. Through the centuries this area was relatively poor, but the locals were proud of their Sciacchetrà wine and stood by their production methods that were passed down from generation to generation. Ever since the 70s, with the advent of the monorails to help with transportation of the grapes, the production of this wine has grown. Today it is one of the most well known in the region.
Sciacchetrà is a fortified liquor wine made with Bosco grapes (min 40%), the typical grapes from Liguria, Albarola grapes (max 40%), another local grape from Liguria, and Vermentino (max 40%), which are the white fragrant grapes common in Liguria and Sardinia.
The making of this delicious tipple demands serious work and long hours. The vineyards are planted on steep slopes with a metre and a half between each terrace. The vines themselves do not stand very tall, so most of the picking has to be done on the knees or bent over, which makes it hard graft indeed!
After the picking, the grapes are laid out on gratings ready for the drying process, which takes around 60 days. Once dry, the workers have to remove the fruit from the branches by hand, before putting them through the squeezing or crushing process to extract the liquor. The extracted juice is then stored in metal kegs for another two months before being moved into wooden barrels to age for at least a year. Sciacchetrà Riserva DOC is stored for at least three years before it is bottled.
The skins of the fruit are then re-squeezed using a machine called a ‘torchio’. This ensures that every last bit of liquid has been removed before the completely dried fruit is left to be used in other liquors, such as grappa.
This may be a sweet wine but it is refreshing rather than syrupy. It fuses a dryness with a background flavour of honey and caramel. Paired with cheese, dessert or cured meats, it makes a classic combination.
Make sure you look out for this delicious tipple when on your Cinque Terre day trip from Florence. Booking with a local tour operator means that you will have the inside info on which bottle is the best one to buy. If you don’t try it while on your hike make sure you purchase a bottle to take home - you won’t be disappointed!
Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Italy including the best Cinque Terre day trip from Florence. Whether you want to ride a Vintage Vespa, try the famous Chianti wine or get cooking with fresh local ingredients, Mauro's company promises excitement, adventure and above all, fun. If you're keen to experience the magic of Italy with the help of some passionate and knowledgeable tour guides, look no further than WalkAbout Florence for your next getaway.
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