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Wine


Vine cultivation in Calabria dates back to ancient times. It is the work of two civilisations that are tied to the Italic populations, with their very rudimentary vine cultivation techniques, in the internal parts of the region and to the Greek populations, which gave impetus to the sector, in the coastal parts of the region.
By 744 BC, the date of the foundation of Reggio by the Greeks, vine cultivation was already flourishing, and Sibari was an active wine market. Soon other markets, such as Crotone and Locri, were added.
The fact that rents for land used to cultivate grapevines were six times higher than rents for land used for other types of cultivation, as reported in the Tavole di Eraclea, gives testimony to the importance given to grapevines as an economic investment.
Almost nothing is known of the wines produced in that era. According to Theocritus, Biblia or Biblina wines were produced. This wine was considered and appreciated as an excellent wine obtained from vines originating in Thrace.
With the Roman conquest, the cultivation of grapevines was almost completely abandoned, substituted with the cultivation of grains (wheat) and the raising of cattle. Biblia wines disappeared, but other wines slowly flourished, such as those of Cosenza, Tempsa and Turi. These wines were mentioned by Pliny the Elder (24 AD).
In the Middle Ages, Calabrian vine cultivation began to flourish again and, according to studies conducted by Federico Melis, the wines produced, along with the wines of Puglia, fostered a stream of exportation beyond Northern Italy, even to other European nations such as Spain and France.
There are some more clues after 1500. Sante Lancerio, who lived in the 16th century, in his famous letter to Cardinal Guido Ascanio Sforza about the nature and quality of wines points out his appreciation of “La Centula,” “Ciragio wine,” “Pesciotta wine,” and above all “Chiarello wine,” for which his praise is excessive. “It comes from a land called Chiarella (Cirella, in the province of Cosenza), in the province of Calabria, at three miles distance from the sea. This wine is very good and was appreciated by His Holiness and all the prelates of the court. There are many wines sold as Chiarello, but to really be from Chiarella, and to have its perfect excellence, it must have a colour brighter than gold and a strong aroma. If it does not have this aroma it is from Grisolia or Orsomazzo, places nearby, which at Ripa are sold as Chiarello wines. His Holiness drank this kind of wine from the beginning of March and for all of the autumn. There is no beverage equal to it. But in order to save it for the autumn season, it must be taken in the spring and kept in a cool place where it will not be upset, and it must be taken before it has matured, with its aroma and strong alcohol content, so as to be matured by the heat.”
These wines are later mentioned by the naturalist and physician Andrea Bacci in his De naturali vinorum historia, which is rich in warnings and advice. He writes, “Strabone (a Greek historian and geographer of the 1st century BC) – book VI, remembers the town of Cirella, not far from the Lao river, in whose countryside two qualities of wine are produced, both the light and the red famous, bearing the name of the town. The first, called Cirella wine, has conveniently taken the name Chiaretto for its splendour and its body and because, in its clarity, it could compete with gold. […] As opposed to other wines, it has the quality of being able to be preserved for two or three years and it is worth calling it a singular example of the most distinguished wine. It is also considered a familiar wine in the town refectories and cafes. It is pleasing to the palate and to the stomach, it goes down easily from the first vein until the kidneys, is very nutritious, generates good, thin blood, carries the residue of the humours along their proper paths, promotes perspiration and urine and crushes gravel. It does not go to the head, rather it makes the senses come alive and marvellously pushes the minds of both the old and those with a dulled mind toward profound speculation. It cheers the heart and the mind. As a result of this exceptional praise, it should be pointed out that many wines are brought to Cirella from San Marco, Scalea, Castelnuovo, Bonifazio and other towns, and these wines are given the name Chiaretto, but rarely do they match all of its characteristics. They are not recognised by the merchants who know those places.”
Later, however, both due to a change in consumer tastes and the spread of wines from other regions, this agricultural product of Calabria lost its market both abroad and in Northern Italy. It remained enclosed within the borders of the region.
The wines produced are primarily mixing wines, since they have an intense colour and body, a high minimum alcohol content and a rich flavour and are free from the distinctive earthy flavour often present in wines produced in other regions of Southern Italy. These wines are still very much in demand. The most famous centres of production are Nicastro, Sambiase, Gizzeria, Ciro’, Francavilla, Pizzo, Nicotera and Palmi.
Aside from the types of wine for mixing, there is no lack of prized wines for table consumption, such as Sabuto from the Rogliano area, Provitaro white, with its pleasing aroma, and Ciro’ (Catanzaro) in the red, white and rosato varieties.
Wine cultivation, reborn after the scourge of the leaf lice, was transformed, qualifying some types of highly prized wines which were finally entered on the list of DOC wines.
CIRO’ WHITE has a straw yellow colour, distinctive aroma and dry flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of between 12 and 13 percent. It is served at 8-10 degrees Celsius as an aperitif or with shellfish or sliced fish. It has been classified as DOC since 4 June 1969.
CIRO’ ROSATO has a clear colour, a pleasing aroma and a dry flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of between 13 and 13.5 percent. It should be served at 16-18 degrees Celsius with meals or with fish and giblet soup. It has been classified as DOC since 4 June 1969.
CIRO’ RED has an intense ruby red colour, a delicate aroma and a dry flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of between 13.5 and 14.5 percent. When aged for three years it is Riserva. It should be served at 20-22 degrees Celsius, with meats. It has been classified as DOC since 4 June 1969.
DONNICI has a ruby red or cherry red colour, a vinous aroma and a dry flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of between 12 and 13.5 degrees. It should be served at 18 degrees Celsius with meals, or, aged, with roasted meats or game. It has been classified as DOC since 25 August 1975.
GRECO DI BIANCO has a golden yellow colour, an etheric aroma and a sweet flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 17 percent. It should be served at 8 degrees Celsius, not with a meal but with dessert, with dry pastries, fruit salad or ice cream. It has been classified as DOC since 12 December 1980.
LAMEZIA has a strong cherry red colour, a delicate, vinous aroma and a dry flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 12 percent. It should be served at 18 degrees Celsius with meals, or with white meats, rabbit and pork. It has been classified as DOC since 5 April 1979.
MELISSA WHITE has a straw yellow colour, a distinctive aroma and a dry flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent. It should be served at 8 degrees Celsius with hors-d’oeuvres, fish or eggs. It has been classified as DOC since 29 November 1979.
MELISSA RED has a strong rose or ruby red colour, a distinctive aroma and a dry flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 12.5 percent. Aged for one year and with a minimum alcohol content of 13 percent, it becomes Superiore. It should be served at 18 degrees Celsius with meats and stews. It has been classified as DOC since 29 November 1979.
POLLINO has a ruby or cherry red colour, a distinctive aroma and a dry flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 12 percent. Aged for two years and with a minimum alcohol content of 12.5 percent it becomes Superiore. It should be served at 18 degrees with meals. It has been classified as DOC since 3 November 1975.
SANT’ANNA DI ISOLA CAPO RIZZUTO ROSATO has a clear colour, a vinous aroma and a dry flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 12 percent. It should be served at 15 degrees with meals or with lamb. It has been classified as DOC since 11 June 1979.
SANT’ANNA DI ISOLA CAPO RIZZUTO RED has a rosy ruby red colour, an intense aroma and a dry flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 12 percent. It should be served at 16 degrees Celsius with meals or roasted white meats. It has been classified as DOC since 11 June 1979.
SAVUTO ROSATO has a light colour, a distinctive aroma and a dry flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 12 percent. It should be served at 15 degrees Celsius with meals or with white meats, cheeses or eggs. It has been classified as DOC since 3 November 1975.
SAVUTO ROSSO has a strong ruby red colour, a vinous aroma and a dry flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 12 percent. It should be served at 18 degrees Celsius with meals or with red meats, game or cheeses. It has classified as DOC since 3 November 1975.

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