Italian wine: Cirò, the Ancient Jewel of Calabria

Dec 15, 2018 429

The region of Calabria is located in southern Italy at the tip of the boot. It's not a highly regarded region for winemaking and doesn't get much attention for the wines that it does produce. It's most popular wine hails from the Cirò DOC, which is required to be made of at least 95% of the gaglioppo grape with up to 5% of greco bianco and trebbiano.

The Winery

Today I'm featuring Azienda Agricola Scala that has been around since 1949 and is operated by its 3rd generation family. The winery is located in Cirò Marina along the Ionian Sea. Their focus is on producing native grapes such as gaglioppo, nerello, magliocco, greco and mantonico. A couple of these grapes, magliocco and mantonico, are grapes that have been revived in recent times. The goal is to refocus the quality of wines produced in Calabria and reestablish the indigenous grapes of the region. 

The Land

Calabria's geography is mostly mountainous with some plains along the Ionian Sea. It was a region heavily populated by Greeks that contributed greatly to the culture and winemaking within the region. There is plenty of sunshine and warm weather, but the breezes coming off the sea help contribute to making prime grapes.

The Grapes

Calabria is mostly known for producing red wines and majority are made from the gaglioppo grape. Unfortunately a lot of the grapes of the region are shipped north and is probably part of the reason that this region hasn't gotten the attention it deserves with its native grapes as it should.

There are 12 DOC's of the region with the leader being Cirò DOC. It’s been said that the wines of Cirò were served to winners of the Olympic games in ancient times.  

The Wine


I tried the 2015 Azienda Agricola Scala Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore made from 100% of the gaglioppo grape. It's fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in concrete. More garnet in color with tinges of orange on the rim. Medium-bodied with red dried fruits, mostly cherry, and toasty notes with baking spices.  Low to moderate tannin with a lengthy finish. I found this to be quite an interesting wine with lots of complexities. At this price point it's well worth trying. The Calabrians food fare tends to be on the spicier side so grape a bottle and seek out some nduja, a spicy sausage spread. ABV 13.5% SRP $14-16

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