We will be focusing on the food, wine, and travel in Calabria and Sardinia in the Italian Food, Wine, and Travel group this month. Calabria and Sardegna are two regions with a long viticultural and winemaking history but despite that, they are still today quite underrated wine regions with many hidden gems. During the last decade, both regions have undergone changes and developed with a new generation coming up with new ideas, rediscovering forgotten areas and grapes, or revitalizing generally used grapes, viticulture, and winemaking techniques.
An Overview of Wine in Sardinia
Sardinia is an island that has been inhabited as far back as the Paleolithic period, and its most well-known indigenous civilization was the Nuragic which went from the 18th century BC to 238 BC, though some argue until the second century AD. It is an island that has been conquered and occupied by many different people such as the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, the Crown of Aragon, and more. When you visit the island you can feel the influences of different civilizations, cultures, and histories from north to south.
If we look closer at the viticultural and winemaking side, one of the most well-known grapes and wines produced in Sardinia is Cannonau. It is a grape with its main home in Mamoiada in the central part of Sardinia, not far from Nuoro. The Mamoiada vintners association has grown and developed a lot during the last few years, putting Mamoiada even more on the map as the center for Cannonau wine.
Other important wine areas and appellations in Sardinia, are Vermentino di Gallura DOCG in the northeastern part of Sardinia from Santa Teresa Gallura and La Maddalena down to Olbia and west into a part of the province of Sassari. Then Mandrolisai DOC and Campidano di Terralba DOC in the central part of Sardinia are other appellations where, for example, the native grape Bovale is used.
Vernaccia di Oristano is another wine produced on the western coast in the province of Oristano that very much characterizes the Sardinian winemaking history and landscape. Carignano del Sulcis DOC is yet another important appellation that is produced in the southwestern part of Sardinia, in the province of Cagliari.
Other interesting grapes that are native to Sardinia are, for example, Nasco (Nasco di Cagliari DOC), Moscato di Sorso-Sennori DOC in the northern part of Sardinia, Monica (DOC Monica di Sardegna, Monica di Cagliari DOC), and Cagnulari (DOC Alghero).
Read more about wine in Sardinia here: Mamoiada: When a Wine Area Finds A New Fresh Voice.
An Overview of Wine Areas in Calabria
Calabria is a wine region that for many may not be very known for its wine production, but it is the region in Italy that is historically seen as the home of viticulture and wine. Calabria was generally known as Enotria – the Land of Wine – and where the “enotri” lived before the VIII century BC. Enotria was a region that covered Calabria, a part of Basilicata, and Cilento in the southern part of today’s Campania.
The Enotrian population is considered to have been the most ancient Greek colonizers arriving in the Italian peninsula. Enotria comes from the Greek word ôinos which means wine. It has been said that the reason for this was the numerous vineyards present in the southernmost area of Italy in that era.
The most well-known grape from Calabria is probably Gaglioppo which is produced all over the region, but the home for Gaglioppo is Cirò on the Ionian coast. During the last decade, smaller Gaglioppo producers have tried to re-valorize the grape by producing it as a monovarietal wine again. They have restored its identity.
Read more about a winemaker in Ciró here: Viticulture – A Family Tradition at Cote di Franze in Calabria.
If we look at other wine areas in Calabria, there is Terre di Cosenza DOC in the province of Cosenza where native grapes such as Greco bianco, Montonico bianco, Greco Nero, Magliocco Dolce and Canino, Gaglioppo plus some others can be used. During the last couple of years, smaller vintners and wineries making low-intervention wine have come together in the association Alta Calabria in this part of the region.
If we head towards the Mediterranean coast between Cosenza and Catanzaro, there is the Savuto DOC which is one of the more well-known appellations of Calabria. The native grapes that can be used in these wines are Greco bianco, Montonico bianco, Greco Nero, Gaglioppo, and Nerello Cappuccio.
Further down along the Mediterranean coast, there is the area around Vibo Valencia – Costa degli Dei – that is today working on getting acknowledged as an IGT appellation and further on as a DOC. The wineries there have united themselves in the association “Viticoltori Vibonesi” with Casa Comerci as a bit of the leading winery there. The central grapes here are Greco bianco and Magliocco canino, and Zibibbo di Pizzo.
Returning to the Ionian coast, there is the Melissa DOC just south of Cirò, followed by Bivongi DOC which covers an area south of Soverato in the southern part of the province of Catanzaro and the northern part of the province of Reggio Calabria. Apart from Greco bianco, Montonico bianco, and Gaglioppo, also native grapes such as Guardavalle, Castiglione, and Nocera can be used in this DOC.
At the very south of Calabria, around the town of Bianco in the province of Reggio Calabria, there is the Greco di Bianco DOC. Greco di Bianco is a passito wine made with Greco grapes that are dried on trellises in the sun before pressing and fermentation. The Greco grape here is different from the Greco bianco used for white wines in other parts of Calabria because it is part of the Malvasia family. It is considered to be the same as Malvasia di Lipari.
How to Participate in the Italian FWT of April
There will be a Twitter chat on April 1 at 11 AM ET/ 17.00 CET.
There is still time to participate with a blog article in next month’s Italian Food, Wine, and Travel group that will be focusing on Calabria and Sardegna. Just send me your article title via the Facebook group.
The writers participating in April:
Jennifer from Vino Travels shares “Antonella Corda: Mother of the Sardinian Vines”
Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm reports about Planning a “Trip to France with our Son from Germany while Sipping a Wine from Sardegna”
Gwendolyn from Wine Predator shares “On Italian Island Time: Vermentino and Cannonau di Sardegna with Pecorino and Fish Stew”
Camilla from Culinary Cam cooks “Mirto di Sardenga-Kissed Braised Ribs”
Cindy from Grape Experiences shares “Spring in Sardinia: Surrau “Branu” Vermentino Di Gallura DOCG with Spaghetti con le Vongole (Spaghetti and Clams)”
Andrea from The Quirky Cork is “Exploring Sardegna through Vermentino & Monica”
Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles features “Monica and Fregola – a bit of Sardegna at the table”
And, your host Katarina from Grapevine Adventures shares about “Two Authentic Expressions of Native Grapes from Calabria and Sardinia”