Calabria

Catanzaro is the administrative center of Calabria, whose provinces include Cosenza, Crotone, Reggio di Calabria and Vibo Valentia. The region ranks 10th in both size (15,080 square kilometers) and population (2,064,000).

Lately in Calabria, Cirò has taken on contemporary touches as new methods of vine training and temperature-controlled winemaking have diminished the alcoholic strength (as well as the propensity to oxidize), making the wine rounder, fuller in fruit and fresher in bouquet. The classic Cirò is red, which in the reserve version has the capacity to age beyond a decade from certain vintages. There is also a rosato to drink young and a bianco from Greco grapes that can show impressive youthful freshness. Melissa, an adjacent DOC zone, makes red and white wines similar to Cirò. But red wines from the same Gaglioppo grown at higher altitudes, Pollino, Donnici and Savuto, for example, are lighter in body and color, sometimes with fresh scents and flavors reminiscent of Alpine reds. The dark Greco Nero variety is also used in certain reds of Calabria.

Recent experiments have also shown unexpected class in the ancient Magliocco variety for red wines, as well as convincing style with Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Sauvignon also show promise in Calabria’s hills.

Among the whites, the rare Greco di Bianco stands out as an exquisite but increasingly rare sweet wine. From a local variety of Greco grown near the Ionian coast at the town of Bianco, it has a rich, velvety texture and an intriguing citrus-like bouquet. The nearly identical Greco di Gerace is a non-DOC wine that carries the ancient place name. From the same area comes Mantonico di Bianco, a Sherry-like amber wine with hints of almond and citrus in bouquet and flavor.