Last week was a busy one for the Italian wine world in New York City. Two major events took place,the Vinitaly/Slow Wine tour on February 3, 2014 and Tre Bicchieri on February 6, 2014. I was lucky enough to be able to attend both events where I saw many old friends among the US wine industry and many imports and producers at both events. Of course, I also was able to taste a lot of great wine.
This week’s wine of the week is from Calabria from a winery called Caparra & Siciliani. I first met this producer at a dinner last year thanks to their importer, a friend, Andrea Fassone of Enotria. They have a great selection of family-owned wineries. This particular producer hails from the province of Crotone. The winery was created from the merger of two family businesses in 1963. Each family began cultivating the vine in this area in the late 19th Century. They work in the Ciro and Ciro Classico areas of Calabria with 213 hectares under vine. They work with a well-known Italian Enologist, Fabrizio Ciufoli.
Wines from Ciro and Ciro Classico are typically made with Gaglioppo, a grape thought to be of Greek origins. The Greeks, in fact, played a large part in the early settlements in Calabria. Calabria, as we know, is one of the most Southern Italian regions located in the “toe” of the Italian boot. I never think of Italy that way but I know it is a shorthand way to look at the country.
The core of the Ciro production is located in the towns of Cirò and Cirò Marina in the province of Crotone. These two ancient towns are located near the Ionic coast and benefit from wonderful sun and cooling breezes. They are not completely flat areas but instead have gentle rolling hills. The soil is calcareous marl with some clay and sand deposits.
When I met one of the owners he told me that Gaglioppo was the Nebbiolo of the Sea Coast. One could debate this for a long time I imagine and Sicilians and Pugliesi would have a different idea for the Nebbiolo of the Sea Coast but that’s for another time.
Solagi is 100% Gaglioppo and ferments and ages in stainless steel and large barrels. It is a very pure expression of this grape and is ruby red in color with an intense and persistent nose of developing aromas of fruit and flowers. On the palate the wine is full bodied, with nice minerality and sapidity as well as fine tannins. I thought it was balanced and harmonious, a real showcase for the grape itself.
Solagi is the name of a location in Ciro Marina where there is an ancient tower. This fortress was a lookout in ancient times. I also tasted two other wines that they make, Volvito and Mastrogiurato. The former is a Ciro Classico Superiore Riserva and is also 100% Gaglioppo. It has more mature aromas and flavors than Solagi. This wine is aged in small French oak from Allier. The latter is a blend of Gaglioppo and Greco Nero, also aged in small wood barrels.
All of the wines would work beautifully with pastas with a meat sauce, salumi or aged cheeses. I tried all three of these wines again at Vinitaly and was quite impressed. Calabria is a very exciting place and one where I have not spent enough time. I will need to rectify that in the coming years. One wonderful trip I took was to visit the Bronze di Riace in Reggio Calabria as part of a longer sailing vacation. I was also able to visit the beautiful towns of Tropea and Scilla. These photos are from the Tropea trip. I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting Crotone. Here is a post I have written about Calabria in the past. There is a lot to discover in this part of il Bel Paese (Italy).