Wines of Calabria



(photo: Nonno Scordo’s vineyard overlooking the sea near Bagnara Calabra) 

Ciro is the most well known Calabrian wine here in the US and it’s for good reason.  The region of Ciro is situated on the eastern tip of Calabria, about a 4 hour trip north from Reggio Calabria.   Ciro is designated a DOC wine or Denominazione di Origine Controllata, DOC is basically a fancy label meaning that any particular wine from an officially recognized region of Italy must be produced in specific well-defined regions, according to specific rules designed to preserve the traditional wine-making practices of the individual regions.  Other, more famous, DOC wine regions include Chianti Classico and Barolo.  There are three other labels you may see on wine bottles from Italy including Vino Da Tavola (table wine) , Vino a Indicazione Geografica (IGT), and Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) – just think of all these classifications as standards for wine making (with DOCG being the strictest standard).  Here’s a nice map that points out both DOC and DOCG regions in Calabria.
Back to Ciro, there are three standard types produced including a rosso (or red) made from the Gaglioppo grape, rosato (rose), and biano (white) made from the Greco grape.  Some rosso wines also contain a mixture of Greco and trebbiano white grapes, but it must be less than 5 percent to meet DOC standards.  Like most wines produced throughout the world, Ciro is meant to be consumed 3-4 years after production, but some Ciro Rosso can be aged 10+ years.  


(photo: Nonno Latella and my father at the vineyard)

As the UndertheGrapeTree states,  The Gaglioppo grape is usually left for blending, giving its blend a softer edge. Ciro Rosso is like Beaujolais or red Bourgogne (both from Fance), with soft red fruit, allspice and cinnamon flavors, notes of walnuts, and a bright, acidic stricture that matches up nicely with spicy meats, stuffed peppers, and pizza, lamb, and even fish like swordfish and sardine.  If you’ve come across any Calabrian wines in your local wine shop, it’s probably Librandi Ciro Rosso, which is a fine representation of the Gaglioppo grape (read on for a great, exclusive offer on Calabrian wines from Winechateau) 
Another DOC zone in Calabria is Melissa (about a 30 minutes drive south of Ciro).  The region of Melissa produces Ciro-like wines (mostly from Gaglioppo and Greco Nero) but doesn’t have the same reputation (at least outside of Calabria) as Ciro.   
Calabria has 12 DOC regions and they include:
– Ciro
– Bianco
– Bivongi
– Donnici
– Isola di Capo Rizzuto
– Lamezia Terme
– Pollino
– San Vito di Luzzi
– Savuto
– Scavigna
– Verbicaro
– Melissa
There are other wine producing regions in Calabria, but they all have the lesser IGT label which, in my view, doesn’t take away from the quality of the wine produced in these areas.  For example, near my parents place of birth in the province of Reggio Calabria there are many IGT zones including Arghillà, Costa Viola, Locride, Palizzi, Pellaro, and Scilla   Given the intense regionalization in all of Italy it’s common for locals to drink wines only from their specific micro-regions (hence the wine world’s golden rule of drinking wines associated with a given regional cuisine; this rule is flexible, but I think drinking wines from the Costa Viola region along the western Calabria seacost with Swordfish and goat dishes for example is a great way to map foods with wine).Made In Italy also has a nice overview of wines from Calabria as well as Italian Made


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