For this wine we go to another IGT region in another part of Italy that we’ve yet to visit. Calabria is the toe of the Italian boot, kicking the football (Americano) that is the island of Sicily. Similar to Sicily, Calabria had a good reputation in the ancient wine world, starting when the Greeks first brought winemaking techniques to the area in the 6th century BC. With the rise of other European wine regions, especially those in France, Calabria’s influence began to fade. In the late 19th century a particularly bad phylloxera epidemic crippled the region’s wine industry and it struggled to recover. Today the region lags far behind some of it’s more prestigious countrymen in both reputation and output. For a country that seems to produce wine in every corner possible, Calabria stands out for having a surprisingly small amount of land dedicated to growing grapes; much more land is devoted to cereals, citrus, and, above all, olives. It is one of the few regions in Italy without a DOCG wine region (the others are the Aosta Valley, Trentino-Alto Adige, Molise, and Liguria) and has just 10 DOC regions. These DOC regions, however, account for just 5% of the wine produced in Calabria. This is due in part to the fact that the restrictions of a DOC region compared with the prices those wines command does not provide much incentive to produce wine under these designations.
The majority of the wine produced in Calabria falls into the IGT category, the most general of which is the Calabria IGT, which is where this wine is produced. The Calabria IGT, as with other regional IGTs, covers white, red, and rose wines that can be still or sparkling, dry or sweet and made anywhere in Calabria. The grape that this wine is produced from is actually the same grape profiled in the last post, Nero d’Avola. As I mentioned previously, the name Nero d’Avola is used when talking about the grape in the context of Sicily (where the town of Avola is located), which is considered by many to be the home of the grape. However, others consider the grape to actually be indigenous to Calabria, and when discussed in this context it is called Calabrese. The grape is not quite as important to the region of Calabria as it is to the island of Sicily, though it is still common to find wines from Calabria that rely heavily on it. Some of the other grapes that are common in this region are Gaglioppo and Greco Nero for red wines and Greco Bianco, Trebbiano Toscano, and Malvasia Bianca for white wines.
This wine comes from one of the most well known, and most important, winemakers in Calabria – Tramontana. The family has been making wine in the region since the late 19th century and is one of the producers working to improve Calabria’s image and standing in the wine world. This wine has a deep, ruby red color to it. The nose has a medium intensity with a complex set of aromas. Black fruit and spice dominant, with black cherry, blackcurrant and a little ginger coming through. There is also some liquorish and oak as well. It is a dry, medium bodied wine with a bright acidity and fairly subtle tannins. The flavors on the palate follow the nose: black fruit, some slight oak flavors, and spice, mainly pepper. It has a medium finish, rounding out the fruit and spice flavors with a hint of breadiness. Quite a nice wine overall, very smooth and somewhat subtle.