Calabria - Food and Wines - Wines
The toe of the Italian boot, Calabria is an overwhelmingly mountainous region with marked variations in microclimates between the warm coastal zones of the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas and the chilly heights of the Sila and Aspromonte massifs. Two grape varieties of Greek origin dominate - Gaglioppo in red wines, Greco in whites - though the types of wine they make can vary markedly from one place to another.
Modern Oenotria's best-known wine is Ciro`, which grows in low hills along the Ionian coast between the ancient Greek cities of Sybaris and Kroton (Sibari and Crotone today). Local legend has it that Ciro` descended directly from Krimisa, the wine Calabrian athletes drank to celebrate victories in an early Olympiad.
Lately Ciro` has taken on contemporary touches as new methods of vine training and termperature-controlled wine-making have diminished the alcoholic strength (as well as the propensity to oxidise), making the wine rounder, fuller in fruit and fresher in bouquet. The classic Ciro` is the"rosso", which in the "riserva" version has the capacity to age beyond a decade from certain vintages. There is also a "rosato" to drink young and a "bianco", from Greco grapes, that can show impressively youthful freshness.
Melissa, an adjacent DOC zone, has red and white wines similar to Ciro` in content and style. But red wines from the same Gaglioppo grown at higher altitudes - Pollino, Donnici and Savuto, for example - are lighter in body and colour, sometimes with fresh scents and flavours reminiscent of Alpine reds.
Among the whites, the rare Greco di Bianco stands out as one of the nation's finest sweet wines. From a local variety of Greco grown near the Ionian coast at the town of Bianco, it has a rich, velvety texture and an intruiguing citrus-like bouquet. The nearly identical Greco di Gerace is a non-DOC wine that carries the ancient place name. From the same place comes Mantonico di Bianco, a Sherry-like amber wine with hints of almond and citrus in bouquet and flavour.