Calabria’s geography, climate, landscape and history illustrate the deep and ancient connection between this southern region and the production of world class wines.
In ancient times, this region was part of Enotria, a region of southern Italy whose name derives from the Greek ôinos which means wine, because the region is rich in lush vineyards. Even today, the presence of vineyard is one of the main characterizing elements of Calabria’s countryside ranging from the coast to its mountains. Currently, there are about 11,000 hectares of vines and a production of 400,000 hectoliters a year of wine, of which 70% red wine and 30% white.
The main production areas are concentrated in the provinces of Crotone, Cosenza, Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria, where nine DOP certifications and nine IGPs are located. Among the most important red grape varieties, we have the Gaglioppo, based on Cirò Rosso, Rosato and Melissa Rosso and Magliocco Dolce, typical of the DOP Terre di Cosenza. Greco Bianco is the main variety of Cirò Bianco and is found in many DOPs, notably in Bivongi and Lamezia. The Mantonico is another popular white grape native variety in the region.
Our trip to Calabria begins with the indigenous vines told by some of the producers who have made them famous all over the world and who are ambassadors of this region rich in natural and artistic beauty. Let us introduce you to Nicodemo Librandi, Flaviana Bilotti, Paolo Ippolito, Giovanni Benvenuto, and Mariolina Baccellieri.
Nicodemo Librandi and the Gaglioppo grape
Our wines are the ambassadors of our land and culture, and are a testament to our passion and dedication we devote to our vineyards and cultivating the wines.
Cirò DOC comes from Gaglioppo, one of the oldest vines in Italy. The “Black Prince”, as it is called in our country with its elongated bouquet of intense colour between blue and black with some reddish glints. This identifies our territory through wines such as Cirò Rosso, Cirò Rosso Riserva Duca Sanfelice , Cirò Rosato: traditional wines, with a real territorial identity. In the neighbouring region of Melissa DOC, still made from Gaglioppo, we produce Asylie red, a different way of interpreting this historical grape that heigtens its fruity notes. Finally, from Gaglioppo, there is “the Rosaneti”, a classic method of brut rosé.
Flaviana Bilotti and the Magliocco Dolce
The Serracavallo winery is located in the municipality of Bisignano, on the hills overlooking the Crati Valley, 35 km from Cosenza. It covers 55 hectares, including 30 vineyards and 10 olive groves. In 1995, the owner, Demetrio Stancati, began renovating the vineyard with a careful selection of indigenous vines that have always existed on the farm, such as “magliocco dolce” and “pecorello”, and planted new international vines such as cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. The vines are planted with 3300 plants per hectare at 600 m above sea level. This is a great terroir for wine growing thanks to its temperature range, the nature of the granitic sand on the soil, and the southern sun exposure. Also, the winery boasts a new modern wine cellar with the latest technologies. as well as modern wine barrels which enhance the quality of the wines. The philosophy of the company is to use indigenous and international vine mixes while growing towards using more and more indigenous vines.
The “Dolce Magliocco”, a native vine cultivated in this region for centuries, had disappeared since the end of the 19th century following a vast phylloxera epidemic. Since the mid-1990s, Demetrio Stancati and many other companies have begun a meticulous rediscovery of this magnificent vine.
Paolo Ippolito and the ancient Pecorello vine
Tradition and innovation … From these concepts, our work began 15 years ago … By the daily synthesis of two opposing and complementary terms, as well as my cousins Gianluca and Vincenzo, we devote our time to the noble art of wine. The recent history of the Ippolito 1845 cellars, the oldest in Calabria, is marked by our gradual return to business at the beginning of the new millennium. At the end of our university studies, we immediately faced the dilemma of knowing how our generation (the fifth) could contribute to the journey of the society created by our family. The ancestor Vincenzo, behind more than a century of history and illustrious examples of pioneering oenology: our grandfather and his sons Antonio and Salvatore are both distinguished for their ability and vision, transforming a small family company into a large important winery.
We undertook studies on old Calabrian varieties, forgotten and put aside, while investing in technologies to improve the quality of Cirò DOC wines. This started the beginning of a replanting process of more than eighty percent of our estates, owned vineyards now cover about 100 hectares, all located in the classic Cirò region, replacing current production systems with the most appropriate forms and adapted to a quality production. Thanks to the intuition and the passion of my cousin Gianluca, one of the three partners is the one who deals with the management of the domains and the production, the attention turned on the Pecorello. Pecorello is an old white grape variety originating from the upper Savuto, a lush valley west of Cosenza. Today, our “Pecorello” receives the praises of many national and international guides, and has now become increasingly famous as a variety.
Giovanni Benvenuto and Zibibbo
I was still a child when I first experienced the taste and fragrance of a grape known as “the fruit of the gods”, the Zibibbo. The grape was first grown on the Tyrrhenian Calabrian coast and was eaten as a table fruit then turned into wine back when Calabria was known as “Enotria” (Land of Wine). Unfortunately, this grape disappeared from Calabria’s cultural heritage. Zibibbo as well as some other native Calabrian varieties such as Malvasia, Greco Nero, Magliocco and Calabrese, all give a true authentic expression of the territory and call to the wild tastes of the terroir with beautiful landscapes.
My winery, Cantine Benvenuto was born along the beautiful “Costa degli Dei” which translates to the the coast of the Gods, where the mix between sea and mountain makes for the perfect wine growing environment. The winery is located near the pretty little village of Pizzo which is perched along the cliffs and is famous for tuna, truffles and of course Zibibbo grapes.
Mariolina Baccellieri and Greco di Bianco
Calabria is a land of bright colours, where the mountains embrace the sea and you lose yourself in its breathtaking views. On the Ionian coast of Reggio lies the town of Bianco, which developed over the last century along the shores of the Ionian Sea. Here is where the ancient Greeks landed almost 3,000 years ago. In this magical territory you will find ancient villages perched on the hills such as Gerace, Agata del Bianco, Gallicianò, and Pentedattilo. Also there is the archaeological park of Locri Epizefiri, as well as the Palazzi Roman villa.
It is in Bianco that the Baccellieri winery is based. The history of this winery has distant roots; for centuries, the family’s property has been passed from generation to generation. I grew up learning about our family heritage in winemaking not only from my father Enzo, but from all my uncles who as well. When I started to run the winery, I had not imagined that it would become such an overwhelming passion. It was then that I understood what my family had transmitted to me: a sense of belonging, respect for those who had preceded me, love of their land,and a strong emotional and cultural heritage.
All the wines produced by the company are loved in the same way that a mother loves her children, but the Greco di Bianco marked an important turning point in the history of the winery. Greco di Bianco has ancient origins and has been long neglected, our Greco di Bianco wine is the of our winery and has become renowned for its quality.