Bathed by the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian Sea for about 800 kilometre of coast and separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina, Calabria can be almost considered an island. Its territory characterized by rocky coasts alternated with sandy shores, valleys, rivers and mountains, generates a very different climate from a side to the other one. This aspect allowed to protect the native vines.
When the Greeks arrived in Calabria chose for this territory the name Enotria, which means “Land of wine”, because the cultivation of vines and wine production were already widespread. At the end of the 19th century the phylloxera didn’t spare this region too, which suffered first the abandonment then the complete destruction of vineyards. The reconstruction of Calabria wine has been slow and gradual and as many other regions of Southern Italy, which produced wines with a high alcohol content, also for many years had supplied blending wines to Northern and foreign producers. Today, however, the tenacity of the producers has generated the affirmation of productive realities and important wines.
Calabria wine has an extension of 10.656 hectares (2017 ISMEA data), the black grape varieties occupy about 75% of the production, with a 38% represented by the PDOS and 33% by PGIS. Continuing from North to South, the main wine area are the province of Cosenza and the area of Lamezia Terme on the Tyrrhenian side, the Cirò and Locride wine regions, on the Ionian one.
The first wine to obtain the recognition of Protected Designation of Origin, in 1969, was the Cirò produced in the province of Crotone., from Gaglioppo grape, the most representative black grape variety of Calabria wine. Its small bunches with thick skin and black-violet colour, ripen in the first decade of October and give fresh and savoury wines. The Cirò has a history of recent rebirth, thanks to the use of better production technologies. It was called by the ancient Greeks Kremisi. It is said that Cirò was offered to winners of the ancient Olympics. Cirò red wines can be combined with the traditional frittole (the less noble parts of the pig, such as lard, rind, shins, cheeks and also cartilage, very slow cooked in the fat of the rind).
Among the white grape varieties, the most characteristic is the white Greco. Its bunches grown in the province of Reggio Calabria, are medium-small with green-yellow skin and ripen at the end of September giving intense wines, with characteristic mineral and fruity hints. The recommended combination is with a fish dish, for example with a tradition swordfish alla ghiotta.
We recommend the tours Castles on the Violet Coast, Amazing mountain, Between mystery and nature, The Ionian coast: enjoying history and religion and Amazing Ionian Coast, to taste either red or white Calabria wines. If you like this article read also The King of the Violet Coast.