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 Filed as : Italy

Sciacchetrá—A Gem Lost To Extinction?

Jul 10, 2012
Sciacchetrá—A Gem Lost To Extinction?
The threatened legacy of Cinque Terre

cinque_terreSciacchetrá (shock-eh-tra) is the rare, amber dessert wine unique to the Cinque Terre, a collection of five seaside villages on the Italian Riviera. The vineyards in this beautiful region (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) are grown on steep slopes that plummet into the Ligurian Sea. The wine is made from the native bosco, albarola and vermentino grapes. The fruit is hand-picked and naturally, gently dried on wooden racks, away from direct sunlight (to concentrate the grape sugars). Sciacchetrá is aromatic and sweet, but so rare that it is difficult, often impossible, to find outside of the region.

Paired with biscotti or cheeses, this little gem has graced the tavolas of the Cinque Terre for over 600 years, a product of 25 generations. But that, sadly, could be changing as Sciacchetrá finds itself on the precipice of extinction. There are fewer than 20 Sciacchetrá independent producers remaining.

The majority of the people who labor in the vineyards and produce the wine are now in their 60s. Their work, very much in jeopardy, is their passion. But a younger generation remains largely disinterested in making this painstaking wine, and that threatens the very culture and heritage of this unique wine and place.

Alas, on October 25, 2011, a major flash flood pummeled through one of the small five towns where sciacchetrá is made, taking with it one of the vineyards. It will take five years to replant the vines and have grapes ready for production again.

If you want to taste this rare treasure, go to the Cinque Terre, before Sciacchetrá becomes a distant memory.

A special documentary chronicling the lives of the people of Cinque Terre, The Land of Sciacchetrá, is scheduled for a television release on November 3rd. Click here to watch the trailer.

What is your favorite region of Italy? Tell us below.


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