I haven’t visited Calabria in many years and the last time I was in Calabria was 2003. I went to see two beautiful men, the Bronzi di Riace, in Reggio Calabria, took a local train to Tropea, a lovely town on the coast, and went swimming in the cleanest water I have ever seen at Scilla. What I remember from that trip was the beauty of land and the spiciness of the food. Calabria is home to some of the world’s most famous peperoncino. What I didn’t remember at all were the wines and not because I didn’t drink them but because they left me without any lasting memories.
The only winery I had heard of at the time was Librandi, a leader and a great winery. In 2011 I was invited to an amazing vertical tasting of their wine “Magno Megonio,” another post that ought to be have been written.
Since that time, things have changed and I have discovered many wines from Calabria often based on a blend of Gaglioppo and Magliocco. This week’s variety is Magliocco Canino Nero which is found in Calabria, mostly along the coast in the provinces of Cosenza and Catanzaro however it can also be found in Le Marche and in parts of Sicily.
Some years ago at Vinitaly I attended a long tasting of wines based on Magliocco under the denomination Terre di Cosenza. There are a variety of wines that are governed by this new DOC including a red, a white, a rose’, a sparkling white and a sparkling rose’ and a wine called “Terre di Cosenza DOC Magliocco”. There is also the possibility to make Novello, red and white Passiti, and red and white late harvest wines in the new legislation as well as a Riserva version of the red wine and the Magliocco. There is also an additional “sottozona” or area that can be indicated on the wine – “Colline di Crati” to indicate a specific part of the viticultural area where the grapes can be grown.
For the red version of Terre di Cosenza DOC, wineries must use:
Magliocco (a minimum of 60%) while the Rose’ must be a created from the following grapes either individually or blended for a minimum of 60%: Greco nero, Magliocco, Gaglioppo, Aglianico, Calabrese.
White Terre di Cosenza DOC is made from Greco bianco, Guarnaccia bianca, Pecorello, Montonico (locally Mantonico), alone or together they must be 60% of the blend.
Both the white and rose versions of the sparkling wine must be made from 60% Mantonico and “Terre di Cosenza” Magliocco must be made from 85% Magliocco.
In terms of climate and exposition, the entire Calabrian peninsula is surrounded by the sea, both the Ionian and Tyrrhenian sides of the Mediterranean. The area near Cosenza, however, does have higher elevations than some of the other DOCs in Calabria. The climate is Mediterranean near the coast and becomes more Continental as you move inland, I was told.
Calabria suffers from drought but the grape varieties grown in this area are well suited to the particular micro-climate and are able to ripen thanks to good thermal excursion between day and night temperatures.
Wines made from Magliocco tend to be quite dark in color because of an elevated amount of polyphenols in the grape and tannic with good acidity and structure. This enables them to potentially age well. It produces a full-bodied wine and tends to work best in blends.
While Calabria is still not on the beaten path, the attention that they are now devoting to their wines deserves to be recognized. If you can see the Bronzi di Riace and also swim in that beautiful sea at the same time, I think you will feel very satisfied with a trip to Calabria, a feast for the stomach, the heart and the soul. Salute!