Calabria Wine – by Giuseppina Coppola
The main wine production areas in Calabria are in the northern and central parts of the region. All red wines are based on the Gaglioppo grape, typical of these lands. Almost all the whites are produced with Greco grapes. The most represented wine is Cirò a red wine, which is powerful and has strong alcohol, a bit old style, but with great capability. Then, there is the rosè wine always from the Gaglioppo grapes, and the white wine from Greco grapes. There are different wines similar to Cirò, among these, we remember: Sant’Anna in Capo Rizzuto island, Melissa, Savuto, and Donnici. An exception to the rule is the Lamezia wine, which is made into white wine with Greco, Trebbiano, and Malvasia grapes. The base for the reds are Greco nero, Nerello Mascalese and Gaglioppo. Finally, we find a rare but delicious, sweet white wine produced on the Locride coasts, called Greco di Bianco.
Myth and history
Love for one’s land often mistakes myth for history. In some places, you can read about the wine produced in Cirò came from the ancient Krimisa. This wine was offered to athletes returning from the Olympics 2,500 years ago. It is claimed that Milone himself, winner of six contests in the struggle, was a heavy drinker of Krimisa. It was said Milone was able to swallow ten kilos of meat, ten loaves of bread, and three mugs of wine. The Greeks who landed on the Ionian coasts called Calabria “Enotria”, land of wine. Legend tells us that so much of the wine was produced that Sybaris, facilitated its transport, using “enoducts.” They were built from the port to reach the hills.
It is difficult to believe that Milone ate twenty kilos of meat and all the bread at each meal. Just as it is hard to believe that the Sybarites transported wine from the hills to the sea as it is done for methane and oil. It is also unlikely, that in the Cirò area for over twenty-five centuries the inhabitants cultivated the same vine and drank the same wine. In 1792 Luigi Grimaldi wrote that competition from foreign winemakers had upset the wine industry in the territories of Cirò, Crucoli, and Melissa. The need to increase production had prompted the owners to plant foreign vines, resulting in a more extravagant wine.