Calabria’s wine business has taken a step forward nearly suddenly, with no intermediate stages in proposing a new wave of freshness and quality and already evident territorial and stylistic interpretations along with surprises at every corner.
And so, if the mountain peaks of Sila and Pollino, too often forgotten in favor of an exclusively sunny view of the tourist Calabria, divide the region into 3 macro areas (the Cirò area: north-east, Cosenza one: north-west and the maritime south) the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts, complete the picture of a complex territory in terms of soil composition, altitudes and climatic traits that implicate different productions and use of varieties “dangerously” assonant (think of ‘Magliocco’ and ‘Gaglioppo’: the main Calabrian red grapes).
Recently I have focused on the area covered by the appellation Cosenza DOC launched in 2011 and including the previous small and numerous appellations within one single one. Magliocco dolce (to not be confused with Magliocco Canino, more frequent in the south) is the protagonist of the zone with its deep colour, tannic structure and potential for ageing and simply called “Magliocco”.
My recent tour in the area
TERRE DEL GUFO (in Donnici)
I met Eugenio Muzzillo, the owner, on a splendid sunny morning that allowed me to check the ventilation conditions of the area. A panoramic location of particular charm where Eugenio works on about 2.5 / 3 hectares for a production of about 18,000 bottles (5 labels). The first vintage was 2008.
The result is a clear and territorial production of evident quality. Eugenio focuses on Magliocco, and its huge potential, especially if one invests to balance the arrogance of certain tannins starting in the vineyard with a better selection given the frequent promiscuity of Magliocco with Mantonico nero that could be less elegant.
– The wine PORTAPIANA is blend of local grapes (Magliocco, Mantonico nero and Greco nero) bodied and smooth at once
– Alysso, a white from Vujnu, an aromatic grape that recalls the white flower alyssum (blended with other local grapes)
– a pungent TIMPAMARA from the “French grape” (as it was used to call this clone of Syrah) with a roundness already evident from the cask samples.
– in addition to the rather elegant rosé, there is KAULOS (grapes: Calabrese e Magliocco) which – as its name suggests – is produced in Caulonia area with the friend Oppedisano and which offers all the warmth and the maturation of the south completing an essential line up
SPIRITI EBBRI (in Celico)
The three partners (Michele, Damiano and Pierpaolo) decided to put together their experience to propose their own wine. In a former cinema, where they are based, we meet with spontaneous sympathy to discover the spirit that drives a brand that has been appreciated in Italy thanks to its concrete and focused project. The official start date is 2011, the vineyards are spread in different areas, conducted by biological inspiration with varieties such as Gaglioppo, Magliocco dolce, Magliocco Canino, Mantonico nero with traces of international ones (Merlot) and some white varieties for a total production of about 21,000 bottles and 3 lines: Cotidie, Neostòs, Appianum. All wines are IGT and all of them are aged in (used) wooden barrels (barrique and tonneaux of French oak and something of Hungarian and American wood with many doubts about acacia). They believe in the contamination, in the enrichment that comes from the blend of different grapes as per local tradition, so they do not have single-grape wines. A well-outlined production with important alcohol levels that contribute, with increasing elegance according to the 3 lines mentioned above, to give body and fruit concentration balanced with savouriness or tannins. Wines to be paired with food, with great consistency and a long finish. Complex and bodied whites and rosé, delicious reds of a great structure with Neostòs and Appianum at the top.
MAGNA GRECIA (in Spezzano della Sila)
A modern approach thanks to Vincenzo Granata who has created an international company with a wine shop easily reachable going from Cosenza downtown towards the Sila mountain, where he welcomes people communicating a territory and a philosophy based on protocols aimed at perfectionism. About 30 hectares of vineyards with local varieties (Pecorello, Magliocco dolce, Guarnaccia nera) but also international ones (Chardonnay, Merlot). A family business for a total production of about 40/45 thousand bottles a year. There are two lines: Gaudio and Baronè. All wines have an important alcoholic level due to the heat of the south. The whites are linked by an evident thread: precision, mineral vein and the courage to be released onto the market after at least 1,5 year. An excellent example is the white Baronè (Pecorello, 2017) where the elegance of the white flowers and the structure of the southern wines are combined. The reds are even more expressive and perfect for the local cuisine, the red Gaudio (grapes: Magliocco and Merlot, 2016) of beautiful juiciness; Baronè (grape: Guarnaccia nera, 2015) with well-managed tannins and good complexity.
TERRE DI BALBIA (Altomonte)
A new and modern project with exciting prospects. The property was previously owned by Venica & Venica (big company from north-east of Italy) then purchased by Ing. Giuseppe Chiappetta and his family, who got onto the market in 2015 with the support of Gianfranco Fino (well-known producers from Puglia region) and investing on selection (of grapes, sites and pruning&training systems) as well as tourism.
They have chosen to work only with Magliocco, Gaglioppo and Merlot (whose results have always been interesting here) and a total production of about 10,000 bottles at the moment. A very beautiful estate lighted up by the red soils which nurture the Magliocco that soon will be enriched with a productive structure and tourist project. The production is driven by know-how and experience: a rosè made from Gaglioppo, pungent and intriguing on the nose along with 2 reds, one from Magliocco (“Fervore”, 2015) complex and tannic to be aged a little longer; one from Merlot (“Blandus”, 2015), round and welcoming, never flat.
L’ACINO (San Marco Argentano)
The company of Dino Briglio Nigro and partners which includes Hospitality facilities allows an immersion into the deep nature and the soul of Calabrian region. Here you will find a sincere atmosphere and a production of great expressivity, without the DOC classification without this restricting its success abroad thanks to the natural stylistic project. From the orange wine from Malvasia with suffused complexity that does not mask the natural floral tone to the red from Magliocco vinified only in stainless steel and from young vines made of fruit and spontaneity or, yet, to “Toccomagliocco” (still from Magliocco grape) that since now will mature in big casks: dense and toasted; all the wines are frank, expressive, fruit of the whims of the vintage and of the lands of origin, with true concentration and living matters. That’s why natural. A company of 40,000 bottles in continuous evolution.