Cirò DOC: White Grape is Greco and Red is Gaglioppo
Bianco (Wh): Minimum 80% Greco Bianco + OAWG; Rosato (Ro): Minimum 80% Gaglioppo; maximum 20% OARG (maximum 10% Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and/or Sangiovese);Rosso (Rd): Minimum 80% Gaglioppo; maximum 20% OARG (maximum 10% Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and/or Sangiovese). The Minimum alcohol level is 11.0% for Bianco; 12.5% for Rosato and Rosso; 13.5% for Superiore
Italian Region: Calabria
Primary grapes cultivated: Greco Bianco (White), Gaglioppo (Red)
Types of Wine Produced:
- Non-Varietal white wines of 80% minimum Greco- Varietal if over 85%,
- Rosato wines produced from a minimum of 80% Gaglioppo and 20% maximum of Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sangiovese or Cabernet Sauvignon,
- Non-Varietal red wines produced from a mimimum 80% Gaglioppo with blending options that are identical to the Rosato options – Varietal if over 85%. These red wines are produced in Rosso, Riserva, Superiore and Superiore Riserva versions.
At the bottom of the boot, Calabria has a long history with wine but today produces only small volumes with approximately five times more red wine production compared to white. The Calabrian climate is generally very hot and dry, especially in the summer months. White grapes cannot maintain the high acid levels that most Italians and most white wine drinkers prefer, therefore little white wine is produced. In fact, the combined regions of Calabria, Molise and Basilicata produce only miniscule amounts of white wine for this clear reason.
Cirò is the oldest DOC in Calabria as it was established in 1969. It is located on the central coast of the Ionion sea and encompasses a winegrowing area that extends from the Sila Range foothills to the coastal city of Cirò Marina and the surrounding hills. The Classico region of Cirò is assigned to wines produced in the city areas of Cirò and Cirò Marina. Gaglioppo is considered the most important grape varietal forms the backbone of Cirò wine production.
Krimisa, a word believed to have derived from the Greek word for the ancient Cremissa colony that is today Cirò Marina, is a very famous wine produced in Calabria during the Greek period. Krimisa was given to winners of the ancient Olympic Games and this tradition was carried forward in the 2004 Athens Olympic games where Cirò Krimisa wines were again offered to the gold medal champions. Many believe that Cirò wines may be the oldest wines every produced that remain in production today.
Viticulture and Vinification
Land under vine covers approximately 1200 acres (460 hectares) and was, until recently, more focused on producing grapes for other regions. A renewed focus on tradition and quality has resulted in more careful canopy management and informed decision making in harvest dates. Maximum phenolic ripeness (tannin and color) of the Gaglioppo is key as these wines may undergo extended maceration and aging to achieve their potential. A focus on softening tannins is a major consideration in the vineyard and the winery. Many of the local boutique producers are known to wait 3-4 years before releasing their top reds.
Librandi is the most well-known producer in the area. They are a fourth generation family-run operation, located in Cirò Marina. They produce wines across the spectrum at a price point of $10-15. None of the wines see oak.
Minimum alcohol levels are 11% for white wines, 12.5% for Rosato and base red wines, and 13.5% for Superiore. The wines are typically dry and are regulated to assure residual sugar falls below 4 g/l in the Gaglioppo-based wines. Aging of 7 months and 2 years are required for base reds and Riserva, respectively.
Food pairing and tasting notes
The red Cirò wines can expect to have a light, ruby color. They express red fruit flavors with red cherry (tart in nature), pomegrantice and rhubarb being typical. They are drunk within 3-5 years of the vintage and are not expected to age. Even the Riserva wines are drunk within 5 years. As one might expect, Gaglioppo wines pair well with the spicy Calabrian cuisine but they are also quite versatile. Pork sausage, seafood, vegetable dishes or pasta are all options for pairing with Cirò wines. They are rarely consumed without food.
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In the meantime, if you are in the mood for a good book, you can try:
– The Modern History of Italian Wine by Walter Filipputti
– Hidden Gems of Italy: An Insider’s Secret Formula To Find Top-Class Italian Wines At Value Prices And Taste La Dolce Vita by Tony Margiotta
Additionally, you can discover the other wines from Calabria.