One great thing about freelancing is that I can now attend wine events at any time (and what’s better than drinking during the middle of the day?). Seriously, I was excited to try some new (to me) varietals at Vino 2010, Italian Wine Week, sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission.
The seminar I attended today was on The New Generation of Southern Reds – Calabria’s Red Wines. I had never heard of Calabria, and the presenters didn't do the greatest job of explaining where it is, but I looked it up online and turns out it's the "toe" of Italy's boot that "kicks" Sicily (basically directly NE of Sicily).
The cool thing about Calabria is that the region’s wine producers almost exclusively use regional varietals – primarily gaglioppo, plus arvino, greco nero, and magliocco canino in lesser quantities. (Other regional grapes I've never heard of include nerello calabrese and lacrima nera.) We learned that the Calabria region produces varieties that have disappeared or never existed in other regions.
The speakers said the gaglioppo grape most resembles nebbiolo, but I didn’t find a lot of similarities in the wines we tasted. The 10 wines we sampled varied in style from some with skunky, dusty noses and earthy, herbaceous palates to more modern styles with oak, vanilla, and cherry on the nose and red fruit, vanilla, nutmeg, and green pepper on the palate. (That last description was of my favorite wine, the most expensive of the lot we sampled – the Val Di Neto I.G.T. “Petraro” 2005, made of 50 percent gaglioppo and 50 percent cabernet. This wine would probably go for around $30 retail.)
While I won’t be rushing out to sample more Calabrian wines anytime soon, it was nice to taste Italian varietals not often seen on these shores. Coming soon: “The remarkable wines of Apulia.” We shall see!
- by Liz Humphreys, Winederlust Eater in Chief