Sheep grazing amidst Calabria’s natural scenerySheep grazing amidst Calabria’s natural scenery

Land of conquerors

Le Moire

Evening mood over the landscapes of the Le Moire wineryEvening mood over the landscapes of the Le Moire winery

A cardiologist is producing top-notch Calabrian wines from the native Magliocco grape.

The region of Calabria in southern Italy has a rich heritage. You can see it in the region’s wine culture and cuisine.

Is there anyone who didn’t visit Calabria? Over the centuries the Greeks, Romans, Germanic peoples, Goths, Lombards, Franks, Sicilians, Saracens, French and Spanish all came and went. No wonder: this region at the bottom of the Italian «boot» is in a uniquely strategic position, with free access to both the Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

So winemaking has a very long tradition here as well – after all, those conquerors got thirsty! But during the 20th century, like all of southern Italy, poverty, mismanagement and corruption led large portions of the population to leave Calabria and seek their fortunes elsewhere. For a long time the economy here, including the wine industry, lay fallow. Recently, however, the region has been following the example set by Sicily and Puglia. Many mass-production vineyards were torn out with subsidies from the EU, and now the region is becoming known for its quality.

A sweet treasure trove

Of the 24,000 hectares of vineyards in the wine-growing region, around a quarter are planted with the native Gaglioppo grape. It was facing extinction when a single winemaker intervened. Nicodemo Librandi almost single-handedly saved this ancient red speciality and used it to produce a delicate, barrel-aged premium wine called Cirò. He also saved the Magliocco grape variety from oblivion – it could be one of the next up-and-coming southern varieties. Especially since other high-quality producers have joined Librandi.

Greco di Bianco is one of the most exciting sweet wines in Italy, a true hidden gem. «Bianco» here does not mean «white», but instead refers to a town at the very tip of the «boot», near which the wine is produced. With its spicy fragrance and distinct fruit, this amber elixir is downright enchanting.

From sweet to fiery

Calabrian cuisine is also exceptionally diverse – which should come as no surprise considering its turbulent history. The Arabs brought citrus, raisins and artichokes, as well as the aubergines which the Calabrians so love. This is where «Melanzane alla parmigiana», the popular aubergine casserole with mozzarella and Parmesan, was invented. Tropea is where the sweet red onions of the same name come from – the town also draws visitors with its early Byzantine pilgrimage church.

Another regional speciality is Nduja, a soft sausage made from coarsely ground pork and very spicy seasonings. It can be eaten as a spread or used as an ingredient in pasta sauces. The Calabrians love their desserts to be as sweet as possible. Here cake is called «gatò», from the French «gâteau».

docg areas in Calabria


doc areas in Calabria

Bivongi, Cirò, Greco di Bianco, Lamezia, Melissa, Sant’Anna di Isola Capo Rizzuto, Savuto, Scavigna, Terre di Cosenza

Key producers

Ceratti, Le Moire, Librandi, Odoardi, San Francesco, Santa Venere

Wines from Calabria