Calabrese, official name in Italy’s National Registry of native Italian red wine grapes for the variety found on the island of Sicily which is better known as Nero d’Avola. The only part of Sicily in which Calabrese is not found is the north-eastern corner, which is the demesne of Nerello Mascalase. It flowers poorly, and yields erratically as a result, despite its natural vigour. Over time, it has adapted to the Sicilian terroir and has an affinity with saline soils, making it able to maintain its acidity in warmer conditions. Pachino, on Sicily’s extreme southern tip in Syracuse province (in the Noto DOC, see link below), is regarded as the zone producing the best Calabrese wines.

Wine styles | Classic flavours for Calabrese include dark cherry and black plum, a saline streak, and vibrant acidity. Varietal and single-site bottlings are on the rise. When blended, Frappato is regarded as the classic partner.

Clones | Four official clones of Calabrese exist.

Biotypes | There are said to exist numerous biotypes of Calabrese, a result of how this variety has adapted to Sicily’s varied conditions and sites (‘terroirs’) over centuries.

DOCG wines | Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG.

DOC wines | Alcamo DOC. | Contea di Sclafani DOC. | Eloro DOC. | Marsala DOC. | Noto DOC. | Sicilia DOC.

IGP wines | Terre Siciliane IGP.

Wineries

Certified organic | COS (Sicily).

Bibliography

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p86-7.