Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Drink the calabrese wine of champions!

Crotone, Calabria
Crotone, Calabria ~ Castello di Le Castella by Revol Web
I know we have many Calabrese Italians in and around the Boston area. Since my journey through the Italian wine world includes all 20 regions in Italy today I cover one we haven't discussed yet, Calabria. Calabria is located at the toe of the boot separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina. It's surrounded by the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas. Calabria is quite hot as you can imagine and the vineyards can be cooled by the breezes off the seas. Even though it's along the coastline it is quite mountainous there. 

Agriculture plays a big part of living for the folks of this region including a wide variety of vegetables, cured meats (especially salami) and swordfish and shellfish is very popular here.

Calabrian landscape
Calabrian landscape by Piervicenzocanale 
The Greeks had colonized this area of southern Italy, along with other nationalities, and the Greeks are known to have introduced wine making to this region. According to Wine Country, the Greeks used the local grapes from a Greek colony today known as Ciro Marina and the wine they produced was called, Cremissa. This wine was served to the champions of the Olympics. So just think, if you can seek out a bottle of this wine you can be drinking the wine of champions! Alot of the wine here is sold off to cooperatives and some is shipped north to be blended in with grapes, but if you love Italian wine and have been to Calabria or want to go you should know about their wine region.

Gaglioppo grapes in calabria
Gaglioppo grapes by Fabio Ingrosso
The majority of the wine production in Calabria is red wine with the most common grape being gaglioppo and for whites, greco. The center of wine production in this region resides in the area, Ciro, which is what the wine is named after. This is one of the 12 DOC's of this region. Most of the wines in Calabria are the IGT, indicazione geografic tipica, status along with the DOC, denominazione di origine controllata, designations, but there aren't any DOCG wines of this region, which was the highest classification in Italian wines until the recent Gran Selezione designation in the Chianti region. 

There are reds, whites and roses produced in this region, but most popular is the red wine Ciro, which contains at least 95% gaglioppo, which is tannic and full bodied. In the Ciro red it is also blended with greco bianco and trebbiano. The interesting part about Gaglioppo is that it's light in color in the glass, similar to a nebbiolo, but don't be deceived by that as there is plenty structure, acidity and fruit behind it to awaken your senses. The white Ciro is made up of mostly of greco bianco. One of the most known producers of wine from this region is Librandi.

I look forward to visiting more of southern Italy myself, including Calabria & Puglia in the future. Has anyone tried the wine of ancient champions?