Calabria has remained elusive for me at least in terms of putting a foot-on-ground but that has changed. Calabria is a mystical place that actually exists. In summertime many people visit the beach towns and might miss the fine points of this beautiful land. It is an ancient land that is full accessible today. It is a land of food and wine.
I had an opportunity to visit Calabria’s Cantina Enotria and the hotel Borgo Saverona in Cirò Marina. Cirò DOC is a great story about two indigenous varieties Gaglioppo and Greco Bianco – and, of course, like any other wine region there is Cirò Rosato – a rosé of Gaglioppo.
Cantina Enotria was founded in 1974 by Cataldo Calabretta, Gaetano Cianciaruso and Armando Susanna. Today Cantina Enotria is operated by Armando Susanna and Saverio Calabretta.
Gaglioppo is a variety that is high in tannins and can produce high alcoholic wines with notes of red fruit and rose petals. This variety parent grapes are Sangiovese and Montonico Bianco. Cirò Rosso must contain at least 80% of the Gaglioppo and 20% of authorized wine grapes of the region where 10% cannot be exceeded for Barbera, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot. The Cirò Bianco must contain 80% Greco Bianco and 20% of authorized white wine grapes.
I find Gaglioppo to be an alluring variety… it is an exhilarating variety that obviously pairs well with Calabrese cuisine but it can easily partner well with any other cuisine style from Alsatian lambée to salmon to prime rib and to almost any other foods. The food friendliness for me is to pair with a homemade mushroom risotto and even before I go to Gaglioppo I love to start with a Greco Bianco and for me it is prime for salumi.
There are sixty hectares/one hundred forty eight acres both hillside and seaside divided in five districts. I put foot on ground on seaside vineyard – which is a different climate than hillside fruit. Seaside is moderated by temperate and hillside with higher day time temperate with cooler evenings for acid development.
The hillsides is where the “real” Calabria began as towns and village were built away from the sea for defensive purposes and hence closeness to where the vineyards was key for maintaining the vineyards. Many parts of Italy the coastal cities are relatively new as when compared to inland cities and hence Calabria is no exception to this pattern.
Here are the lovely Enotria wines I was privileged to taste:
Gold Label wines:
Cantina Enoteria Cirò Bianco DOC – Greco Bianco 100% 93 Points
This wine exemplifies centered notes of Meyer lemon zest, almond, flowers and moist minerals. The palate is nicely balanced with fresh notes of bright citrus tonality, crisp green pear, almond and oyster shell.
Cantina Enoteria Cirò Rosato DOC 2018 – Gaglioppo 100%
Nose of fresh berries, moist minerals, and hint of spice notes. Palate of mountain strawberry, oyster shell and fresh flowers.
Cantina Enoteria Cirò Rosso DOC 2017 – Gaglioppo 80%, Calabrese 20% (Nero D’Avola)
This wine has reminiscent nose of black cherry, violets and spices. Balanced and concentrated cherry confit, pepper, and dried red rose petal.
The Roots Wine Series reflects physical routes to getting to specific places in Calabria–route 91 goes to the sea where you will find vines right to the seaside. State road 106 divides seaside from hillside. And Punta dei Venti is a lighthouse (Punta Alice) that is on the tip that is closest to Puglia (though Puglia is still a large distance away).
Cantina Enotria Bianco 91 Bianco Calabria IGT 2017 – Greco Bianco 40%, Ansonica 20%, Pecorello 20%, and Chardonnay 20%
Nose of citrus zest, beeswax, and honeysuckle; palate of seared pear, hint of cardamom and white flowers.
Cantina Enotria Punta dei 20 Rosato Calabria IGT 2017 – 100% Gaglioppo
Nose of field strawberry and beeswax; palate of freshness fruit balanced by slight hint of spice.
Cantina Enotria 106 Rosso Calabria IGT 2017 – Gaglioppo 60%, Calabresse (Nero D’Avola) 20%, Cabernet 20%.
Nose of red-black fruit, rose garden, and spice box. Palate of blackberry, pepper, and dried herbs.
The proving ground for a set of wines is great food. I was delighted to taste Enotria wines at Michelin one-star restaurant: Pietramare Natural Food
Arriving from coast side to the Praia Art Resort to dine at Pietramare Natural food was such a splendid journey
Ciro Sicignano is the chef at Pietromare. Exquisite and beautiful plating in a restaurant where the setting was certainly restaurantesque – fresh flowers, carefully placed cooking accoutrement that was particularly inviting and welcoming. The multi-course meal included the starter of fresh squid; followed by pasta and freshly shaved black truffle, lamb and potato rectangle and a dessert of ice cream and chocolate tart. Each dish was served with a different Enotria wine. A compelling experience where the food framed each wine being poured.
Borgo Saverona is a property owned and developed by Armando Sussana. This romantic hotel is small and intimate and showcases of the hillside of Cirò Marina (authentic Calabria are the Hills). Armando has been restoring one building at a time of this set of buildings from at least 19th century. The buildings are perfectly restored and to add to the beauty is charming and superbly welcoming staff.
This resort is host to many weddings and it is a romantic and beautiful place in the day time but even more so in the evening time. The stars can be seen and the grounds are lit with strings of lights. The buildings are gently lit and the atmosphere is completely charming.
On the property is a vineyard of Gaglioppo and stretching in the distant are houses and trees adored by evenings of deep orange, yellow and red skies.
The property is ideal for staying the Cirò DOC area and the extra added benefit of exquisite food and superb and attentive service.
After a visit to the seaside, hillside and Punta Alice; we came back to Borgo Saverona for a picnic but a Calabrian picnic of delightful soup, roast potatoes, Salumi, cheese, and bread and of course with Enotria’s Rosso and Bianco wines. Easily one of the nicest picnics I have enjoyed.
I always imagine what a journey will be like and rarely is my notion before I get there correct and thankfully so I want to be enchanted and delighted by place. Calabria is even more enchanting and compelling than I could have imagined. It did not feel like neigbhouring regions but it was a world unto itself. The wine, the food, the sites and sounds and the people made my journey here a pure pleasure.
I recommend a visit to Calabria–and start your journey in this compelling wine region when you first step foot in this ancient crossroads that is Calabria. You can start here.
Borgo Saverona – SP2 Contrada, 88811 Cirò Marina KR, Italy – +39 0962 370201
Expert Calabrian Travel Agent: firstname.lastname@example.org – they planned this travel.
James the Wine Guy
Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.
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Last photo courtesy of Cantina Enotria.
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