The Wines of Calabria
Calabria is the home of the Gaglioppo grape, otherwise known as Montonico Nero. The deep, dark, tannin rich, full-bodied red wines produced from this variety are much loved throughout the region, but in terms of quality form the basis of most DOC wines in Calabria, either as single variatel wines or often blended. As a wine region Calabria has some 71,630 acres of vine planted, around a quarter of the total vineyards of Germany, but despite all this Calabria does not play a significant role in the global wine market.
There are both social and historical reason for this. During the 1960's the population of Calabria depleted due to the mass exodus of Italian workers, this caused the regions general economic development to falter and Calabrian wine producers failed to keep up with the increases in technique, technology and quality that was seen in other Italian wine regions.
This doesn't mean that Calabrias conditions are not suitable for quality wine production, in ancient times the wines of Calabria were very highly praised and the region itself became known as Oinetria (land of wine) by the Ancient Greeks and latterly Enotria (land of wine) by the Romans. The Calabrian climate can produce difficult conditions for it's wine growers, 90% of the region is mountainous terrain where vineyards are often perched high up in order to protect the vines from the danger of frost in winter and spring.
Ciro, Pollino, Savuto and Greco di Bianco are the only labels which are reasonably well known outside the region, but these wines are mostly consumed in Italy and rarely seen on the international market. Calabria also has a handful of other DOC wines, such as Lamezia, Saint' Anna di Isola Capo Rizzuto and Mellisa which are regionally not that well known. Unfortunately really good wine is rarely made in calabria and any good quality wines are from individual producers rather than larger cooperative groups.
Lets take a look at Calabria's wines -
Whether the Ciro wine is a direct descendant of the Cremissa, the prestigious wine of ancient Greece, which were presented to the winners of the Olympic games is subject of much discussion. But one thing is for certain, this dry red wine, made from the Gaglioppo grape is grown on the eastern slopes of the Sila Massif is probably one of Calabria's best known wines. A small number of producers are now producing top quality, modern, smooth and robust Ciro wines, opposed to the rather harsh, acidic wines that have unfortunately become the norm. The best examples of Ciro wines are dark red, deep and full-flavoured, often with great ageing potential.
The Gaglioppo grapes are used to produce this dry red wine are grown on the southern slopes of the Pollino mountains. The grapes are pressed and the wine marketed almost exclusively by the regions main growers cooperative. The swing in temperature between the hot summer days and cool nights is what gives Pollino wines their distinctive bouquet and character.
Greco di Bianco