Earth matters in Liguria: a tasting of Bruna wines

After visiting the Bruna, a winery with two very different kinds of soil in their vineyards, I organized a tasting on my terrace. The theme was “Learning to Taste Terroir”. I covered the labels of the two whites and the two reds. Everyone had four glasses, allowing comparisons and going back to re-taste.
I explained some of the basics of how to recognize acidity, minerality, and tannins in a wine, as well as the wine’s structure.
We started by swirling, sniffing and tasting the two whites:
Bruna “Majé” Pigato Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC 2013 (white soil of Garaxin vineyard)
and Bruna “Le Russeghine” Pigato Riviera Ponente DOC 2013 (red soil of Le Russeghine).

Both are made 100% with Pigato grapes, a native variety in the Vermentino family that was historically used to to make vino sfuso for the locals or easy drinking wine for summer tourists.

Riccardo Bruna, went completely against the grain in 1970 when he set out to make quality Pigato wine that truly expresses the terroir. (The name for the grape in dialect is “Pigau”, deriving from the word “pighe” meaning “spots”. When the grape is mature, it has small, amber colored spots on the skin as this photo shows.)

In this video, Francesca Bruna, who manages the vineyard with her father and her husband, Roberto, explains how the wines are different. (We did not taste Bruna U Buccan Pigato Riviera Ligure Ponente DOC, the third wine she mentions because the bottle I bought at the vineyard will be at its best in a few years. It is a richer white, Riccardo’s flagship, which becomes more complex and interesting with age.)

Even the group’s least experienced tasters noted that the “Majé” had a slightly more transparent color and was lighter and crisper than “Le Russeghine”, primarily because of the very different soil types. Both were persistent and full of the delicate aromas, influenced by the fact that the vineyards are in a river valley that runs between the sea and the Apennine Mountains, creating healthy air flows and large changes between day and night temperatures.
Both vineyards are surrounded by woods,flowers, fruit trees, evergreen bushes, an eco-diversity that makes the vineyards healthier and adds complexity to the wine.

Here are fossils from the Garaxin vineyard.
2014-08-27 11.53.23

Even though Bruna primarily produces Pigato whites, we also tried two reds.

The first was Bruna Bansìgu Colline Savonesi [glossary_exclude]Rosso[/glossary_exclude] IGT 2013, a light red made 100% from Grenaccia (a native grape in the Grenache family) with red fruit aromas, a lovely summer red.

The second, Bruna Pulin Colline Savonesi [glossary_exclude]Rosso[/glossary_exclude] IGT 2012 medium bodied wine, primarily made from Grenaccia as well, but with some Barbera and Syrah added. It had velvety tannins, was complex and persistent but not overly heavy or fruity.


After tasting all the wines, I revealed the labels and shared photos of my visit to the vineyard including this one of the Bruna family: Riccardo, Francesca and her husband, Roberto.

The tasting participants chose their favorite wine, poured a glass (or two), and we had a light dinner together. To me, this is the essence of Italian wine: the pleasure of the experience.

If you are interested in scheduling a tasting while I’m in the United States this winter (Dec, Jan, Feb) or in coming to Italy for a custom tasting trip, use this contact form or write me at

Bruna Pigato wines can be found on Wine Searcher.

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