Ciliegiolo is a red grape variety of central and northwestern Italy, something of an obscurity in past decades but now undergoing a renaissance in Liguria and its spiritual home, Tuscany. It is now used increasingly in the red wines of several western Italian DOCs including Chianti, Colli di Luni, and the lesser-known Montecarlo, Colline di Levanto, Golfo di Tigullio and Val Polcevera. The number of varietal IGT wines made from Ciliegiolo has increased considerably since 2000.
The grapes name comes from an Italian word for cherry, a fruit which Ciliegiolo wines resemble both in color and aroma. It is this character that has prompted the vines renaissance, as the variety brings a certain freshness and lively character to otherwise-heavy wines. In a world that increasingly demands early-drinking wines, but which are nonetheless full of character, Ciliegiolo grapes have provided an excellent addition to wines that would otherwise need cellaring.
Currently, Ciliegiolo is
cultivated almost exclusively in Umbria, Liguria and Tuscany, though the regions
give distinctly different wines. The Ciliegiolo of Umbria, grown in an inland
area with a somewhat cool, continental climate, is a light, fruity wine meant
to be consumed young. Ciliegiolo Grapes
In Liguria it is
grown mostly in the Golfo del Tigullio DOC near Portofino and is used to make
Rose wines, which exhibit the grapes, natural bright cherry fruit balanced by
supple tannins and decent acidity. In
Tuscany, a warmer, more maritime climate and a more ambitious winemaking
philosophy have produced startlingly different results. These have come
principally from the Maremma, the coastal area of the region in the province of