The Italian Riviera arcs along the Ligurian Sea from the French border east and south to the Cinque Terra, with Genoa as the midpoint. The DOC called Riviera Ligure di Ponente embraces the western end of this arc, and has to be one of the most obscure wine regions in Italy; as far as I can remember, this was my first taste of its wines. But it won't be my last.
I ordered this Vermentino at Bellavitae, a cozy restaurant in Manhattan's West Village that focuses on artisanal, high-quality Italian food and wine. It was offered by the quartino for $14.
The wine is made from 100 percent Vermentino, the most important white grape in Liguria, possibly an import from Spain back in the Middle Ages. It was quite big-boned, yet remained crisp and refreshing; aromatic with floral, citrus and mineral notes, it was more subtle on the palate, with a clean finish. I rated it 87 points, non-blind.
It made a terrific match with an amazing mozzarella di bufula. According to owner Jon Mudder, the cheese is made for the restaurant every Tuesday in Campania, flown to New York on Thursday, and sold out by Sunday. Pillowy, creamy, with hints of flowers and fresh herbs, it was simply delicious. The gentle cheese, the lively wine and a warm spring evening made for a lovely moment.