Calabrian Wine: Hidden Gems from the Toe of the Boot
Calabria is a wine region waiting to be discovered. Two recommendations to get familiar with Calabrian wine
Calabrian wine has not received the recognition it deserves, even though the region of Calabria has a very long history of vine cultivation. The territory is gorgeous, but the economic problems of the region have prevented it from achieving its full potential.
That’s a shame, because the sea and landscapes of Calabria are truly unique. The sites are oftentimes kilometers apart, and public transit isn’t very efficient, so I strongly recommend travelling by car. Aside from the logistical problems, you are going to love Calabria. In fact, precisely because it’s scarcely developed, the region has preserved its natural beauties.
Like any self-respecting Italian region, Calabria has a top-notch cuisine and high-quality products. The famous red onion of Tropea comes from here, along with excellent extra-virgin olive oil, cured meats and cold cuts. Traditional dishes tend to be pretty hearty and spicy: licurdia, perciatelli e lumache, lagane e cicciari…If the names sound unfamiliar, that’s because they are in local Calabrese dialect!
Calabrian wine is back and it’s here to stay
For a long time, Calabrian wine didn’t enjoy a good reputation. They were high in alcoholic content and had a strong color, so winemakers in other regions of Italy and abroad would blend them with other wine varieties. But today the situation is changing. Many Calabrese winemakers have invested in their wineries and techniques. Today, they are producing quality wines that are appreciated in the rest of Italy and abroad.
Calabria has many native vine varieties. Among the reds: Gaglioppo, Maglioppo, Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Nocera, and Greco Nero. Among the whites: Greco Bianco, Montonico, Pecorello, and Guernaccia. Some of these are grown in Sicily, too, but the morphological features of the two territories are very different. With these vine varieties, Calabria produces 12 DOP wines and many more IGT wines, recognized by the Italian government (here’s a primer on Italian wine quality certifications).
Two hidden gems from the toe of the boot
If you want to get to know Calabrian wine, start from these two IGT wines by Casa Vinicola Criserà. With over 100 years of experience, they grow part of their vineyards in the province of Reggio Calabria, right in front of Sicily. Viticulture is not easy here. Oftentimes slopes are very steep, making land work very challenging. Criserà is one of the most advanced wine-makers of Calabria, continuously evolving, and led by experts in the field.
- “Duale – Bacca d’Oro del Mediterraneo” (Golden Berry of the Mediterranean) is a red wine, produced from 100% of Nerello Mascalese grapes (here called Nerello Calabrese), and is included in the IGT of Calabria.
- “Nerone di Calabria” is another IGT-certified red wine, produced from 30% of Sangiovese grapes and 70% of Nerello Calabrese.
The dominant grape variety is Nerello Calabrese for both wines, but the final results couldn’t be more different. Let’s take a closer look.
- Duale has a mild alcoholic content of 12.5%, a pinkish color with ruby red hues, and is vinified in steel tanks. Being a relatively light and fruity wine, it can be successfully paired with a variety of dishes.
- Nerone, instead, is a structured and full-bodied red wine, refined in small oak barrels. It has an alcoholic content of 14%, and an intense ruby red color. Nerone is a complex wine, more spicy than fruity, and goes well with red meat, strong cheeses, and spicy dishes.
If you are ready to explore Calabrian wine, you can get both Duale and Nerone from Franco Wine Imports. Calabria has so much to offer! Hopefully these amazing wines will help the region get back on its feet.
Enjoy your wine!