Saturday, April 18, 2020

A Look into Marrelli Wines and the Indigenous Grapes of Calabria

During these difficult times that the world is facing it is an important time to continue to educate and support businesses around the world.  Recently I’ve had the opportunity to sample some Calabrian wines and love highlighting regions or sub-regions that don’t get enough attention.  
connected with Francesco Carvelli, Project Manager of Le Verdi Praterie, one of the brands under Marrelli Wines, to gain a deeper understanding regarding the wines of Marrelli in Calabria. 

Tell me the story  of the Marrelli family in the wine industry and how the winery started.   
Ten years ago Francesco met the owner of Marrelli wines, Dr. Massimo Marrelli.  They agreed to build a wine cellar inside the vineyeards that he had already planted in 2005 and to save that DOP, Sant’Anna di Isola Capo Rizzuto, from extinction.  Today they are the only ones to produce wines under that denomination.  

The winery, Le Verdi Praterie, was created in Calabria by Dr. Massimo Marrelli, whom is a dentist and entrepreneur whom since 1978 had concentrated on the field of dentistry and the technology of dentistry.   

Since 1999, his entrepreneurial effort has been concentrated in the agricultural and breeding sector.  He directed his investments towards the Lakinios headland within the Crotone province in the territory of Isola Capo Rizzuto.  Since the times of Magna Grecia this area has been an area most suitable for quality food and wine. 

The winery consists of about 37 acres (15 hectares) of land.  The winery operates with modern and innovative technologies making high-end wines after a period of aging in the beautiful barrel room located in the cellar's underground rooms.  Inside the winery is the Kuta Restaurant where you can taste the wine and all the dairy products with the bufala milk that comes from a local farm of 650 Mediterranean buffalo.   
Marrelli winery Calabria
Marrelli Winery ~ Copyright of Marelli Wines
The grapes grown by Marrelli are on estate vineyards managed organically with native grapes including Gaglioppo, Magliocco, Nerello Mascalese, Greco Bianco, Mantonico Bianco and international grapes such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  The training system used for the vines are low spurred cordon with a density of 5,000 plants per hectare and a yield of about 1.5 kg per plant. 

Why did you choose this particular blend of Gaglioppo and Magliocco and can you explain what they lend to the wine 
Lakinio is a blend of 50% Gaglioppo and 50% Magliocco.  These particular grapes from chosen due to the two peculiar characteristics that these two grapes possess.  In the case of Gaglioppo we have grapes with few anthocyanins (color) and many polyphenols (tannins) with aromatics characterized by hints of spices, dried tomatoes, cherries and tertiary aromas.  While in Magliocco it is exactly the opposite demonstrating few tannins and a lot of color with aromatics of ripe red berries, plums and raspberries.  This allows us to have a soft wine with a good color tone, a good aromatic complexity and a great elegance, the latter characteristic is of the gaglioppo after several years of aging. 
Marrelli Winery in Calabria Italy
Copyright of Marrelli Wines

Tell me about your soils and the topography of your land 
The territory of the Sant'Anna di Isola Capo Rizzuto DOP is located a short distance (half an hour) from the Sila mountains and 10 minutes from the sea.The vineyards are located in an area 190 meters above sea level and the temperature changes at night guaranteeing the grapes to keep their aromas and organoleptic qualities intact.The soils are of medium texture, from medium deep to deep with an abundance of tuff pebbles, weak calcareous with fractions of dark, vegetable soils and traces of white clay. 

How is the Lakinio produced and what is the aging process? 
The vinification of this grape begins with the destemming followed by 10 days of remaining in contact with the skins in 5,000-liter truncated cone vats in French oak.  After racking, fermentation starts at a controlled temperature in the same wooden vats.  From the 2017 vintage onwards, at the end of fermentation, part of the wine (the Magliocco) is placed in stainless steel containers at a controlled temperature.  The other part (the Gaglioppo) is placed in large 3000-liter French oak barrels for 24 months.  Immediately after, the two parts are joined and left in a steel container at a controlled temperature for another 5 months.  It is then bottled to make a further refinement of 2 months before being sold. 

What is the goal and the focus of the winery and what makes the wines unique 
Marrelli Wines produce a limited amount of wine bottles (50,000 bottles per year) and are oriented towards making long-aging wines with a strong territorial and varietal characteristic.The company's goal is to reach all those niche markets around the world where the most demanding consumers can appreciate the typicality and uniqueness of our wines.In all the processing phases we are attentive and respectful of all those traditional practices, which we have known in our ancient territory for several centuries (5th-6th century BC).  This allows our wines to have a strong personality, a sober character, but above all great austerity.
What are your opinions on the future of Calabrian wine? 
The Calabrese wine in the last 20 years has had a great evolution.Many companies have understood that by enhancing the grapes from indigenous vines high quality results can be achieved.  These indigenous vines are certainly more difficult to produce and vinify than international vines.  Suffice it to say that there are over 30 varieties of indigenous grape varieties present in Calabria, many of which are of very ancient origin.Over the years, each region has had its moment of glory, Tuscany with Sangiovese, Piedmont with Nebbiolo, Sicily with Nero d'Avola and now Puglia with Primitivo.

Today many importers look at enological Calabria with a lot of interest because of the continuous qualitative growth of the wines produced, but also because it is a land to visit and know for its archaeological, cultural, food and wine and naturalistic heritage unique in the world. 

2016 Lakinio Calabria Rosso IGT
Deep ruby in color.  Aromas of cherry with a hint of cocoa.  Dry with a dark profile of currants and blackberries and a tinge of green pepper.  Subtle and elegant tannin.   ABV 14% SRP $32.
Food pairing: Marrelli recommends pairing this wine with veal and mushrooms or lasagna 

2016 Marrelli Wines Lakinio Calabria Rosso“When we offer a wine in the intimacy of our home or choose it in a restaurant, every time we fill a glass we are intoxicated with a taste, a perfume, a color, an emotion, but in reality we do much more, we begin a journey, a journey into the culture, art, passion and history of a people, to discover its roots, all the riches of its territory, its men, all those "atmospheres" that surround a wine. A journey that tells, a story, the story of the life of a vine. A vine that has been cultivated in our Calabria for over two thousand years” - Francesco Carvelli 


*This wine was provided as a sample, but opinions are all my own.  Importer: The importer is IVDC Imports.

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