Calabria is one of Italy’s 20 administrative regions, one of the poorest regions in Western Europe. It occupies the so-called toe of the Italian ‘boot’, a long, vast and narrow mountainous peninsula which stretches from north to south for 154 miles (248 km), with a maximum width of 110 km (68 mi). Calabria is bordered to the north by Basilicata, to the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea and to the east by the Ionian Sea. It is separated from Sicily by the Striat of Messina, where the narrowest point between Capo Peloro in Sicily and Punta Pezzo in Calabria is only 2 miles (3.2 km).
History: The Greeks called the peoples inhabiting these lands Enotri, for their care and skill in the cultivation of the vine. The Greeks helped improve growing methods, and Calabrian towns such as Sibari, Crotone, and Locri were areas of great wine production.
Climate: The climate is Mediterranean and influenced by the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian seas that bathe the region. Differently from the mainstream Mediterranean weather, the Sila mountainous area presents continental weather patterns. Rainfall is abundant in the interior and very scarce in the lowlands and on the coast. For many years Calabria has provided blending wines for both Italian and foreign manufacturers, since neutral wines of intense colour and high alcohol characterised its production content. More recently the situation has changed for the better and the region can boast many good, ever-improving wines.
Vineyard area: Grapevines account for only 3% of the total agricultural products coming from the region, with about 25,000 hectares of vineyards. Red grape varieties account for about 80% of production. The most cultivated vine is Gaglioppo, present in most red Calabrian wines. The most common white grapes in the region are: Greco Bianco, Guarnaccia, Malvasia Bianca Lunga, Trebbiano Toscano and Mantonico Bianco (see list below).
Native grapes: Addoraca (w). Castiglione (r). | Gaglioppo (r). | Greco Bianco [sic] (w). | Greco Nero (r). | Guarnaccia (w). | Guardavalle (w). | Magliocco (Dolce, Tondo) (r). | Magliocco Canino (r). | Malvasia Bianca Lunga (w). | Mantonico Bianco (w). | Marsigliana Nera (r). | Montonico Pinto (w). | Nerello Cappuccio (r). | Nerello Mascalese (r). | Nocera (r). | Pecorello (r). | Pecorello Bianco (w). | Prunesta (r). | Trebbiano Toscano (w).
Wine regions: The first DOC was Cirò in 1969, followed by Donnici, Pollino and Savuto in 1975 and others. In Cosenza province the areas of Pollino and Verbicaro are located, once autonomous DOCs and now incorporated in the Terre di Cosenza DOC. Further south, in Crotone province, important areas include Cirò DOC, Savuto DOC and Val di Neto IGT. In these areas, Gaglioppo is usually the main red grape used. In the far south, in Reggio Calabria province, is the Greco di Bianco DOC, a dessert wine produced in the town of Bianco from Greco Bianco grapes.
IGT/IGP (1): IGP Calabria.
Certified organic: Masseria Falvo 1727.
Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.550.