Calabria through the eyes of international wine specialists
In preparation for the upcoming competition in Rende – Cosenza, Italy the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles sent five wine experts from around the world on a trip to discover the hidden gems of Calabria. After traveling 900 kilometres while exploring the region we asked them to share with us the impressions Calabria has left on them.
“Calabria is part of the lesser-known wine regions in Italy, but the ancient Magna Graecia has wonderful indigenous grapes to rediscover, and you can find quality on both sides of the Calabrian map. I loved a few rosé wines, a few reds with serious tannin structures and some maderized dessert wines that really connect with so much of Calabria’s history. You can experience the influence of the 5 civilizations that invaded the South of the peninsula through a glass of wine! Some of my personal highlights from the trip were the wines from Ciro Marina, the diversity of the food flavors from seafood to grilled meat, a tiny restaurant in the city of Scilla facing the island of Sicily and the ancient ruins of the Roman Empire from the fourth century and the sound of the Barroque guitar. Gosh what a place! “
Sommelier, wine communicator and promoter, United States
“What distinguishes Calabria from other Italian regions is the cool climate in a southern laititude. This is the most powerful impact and a very rare combination which allows for the ripeness of the fruits supported by a great acid structure. There is a great diversity of soils at different altitudes and of grapes in different locations. It’s a North to South country in the same region. My favorite wines from the trip were the 2020 Autoritratto by Antonella Lombardo(Mantonico) and the 2017 DiversaMente by Tenuta del Conte (Cirò Bianco).
The food was really incredibile. I loved the view from a terrace in Soverato and the passion and dedication of the local people speaking to us…
Given that Calabria has so much history and is really in the center of the Mediterranean, I wonder why this place is less known than Puglia and Sicilia? This region has a story to tell and the world doesn’t know it yet! This is what makes Calabria unique.”
Mattia Antonio Cianca
Sommelier and wine consultant,
2019 Best sommelier of Italy, 2017 Best Sommelier of Australia
Australia & Italy
“There is still a lot to discover in Calabria, both in terms of wine and cuisine, and in terms of tourism. The young and modern wineries are particularly interesting, as well as those that are increasingly returning to native vines.
The white wines of Greco di Bianco, Mantonico, Pecorello and Guarnaccia bianca deserve particular attention. White wine is currently in high demand internationally and the style of Calabrian white wines with exotic and floral aromas could satisfy the desires of many white wine drinkers. The demand for rosé wines in Germany is also growing and Calabria has wines to offer that the Germans would certainly appreciate.
The red wines of Magliocco, Gaglioppo or Nerello Mascalese are also very exciting. However, they often do not correspond as much to what is required internationally. Many of the red wines presented to us had a lot of oak wood and while full-bodied and intensely colored red wines are in demand, they should be fruitier.
A niche that particularly fascinated me was the Orange Wine and Pet Nat that we drank for dinner one evening at the Vinicolo di Soverato restaurant. Even though Orange Wines only represent a very small market, you can make a name for yourself here on a small scale.
It was very nice to see that in Calabria there are young people who are making a difference in viticulture and gastronomy. Because if you associate something with Calabria abroad, it is the extinct or outdated villages and mafia structures that make life difficult for local entrepreneurs.
The world should see that there is another way, that in Calabria the traditional regional food and wine culture is interpreted in a modern key.
In Germany, Librandi’s wines are relevant to the market, including Crotone and Cirò. Calabrian wines from other producers can sometimes be found on the wine lists of Italian restaurants, eg. by Statti or Lento. Calabrian wines can also be purchased from online retailers, but only rarely in specialized stores or food retailers.”
Wine journalist, Germany
“I had never visited Calabria and one main thing that impressed me was the diversity of terroirs, landscapes, and grape varieties. I remember the long and very interesting history of Calabria, shaped by all the different cultures and I was, among other things, very interested in the Roman villa and the ancient presses that I saw there.
I was amazed by the richness and range of Calabrian gastronomy which goes perfectly with the diversity of the Calabrian wines. I found it interesting to see the influence of the different Calabrian terroirs on the same grape variety and the variation between the West coast and the East coast wines. The hospitality and kindness of the Calabrian people were remarkable. It’s a little-known region that deserves to be discovered! “
Nicolas Mahé de Berdouaré
Managing director and Owner of Vinhuset NoFra, Norway
“When I started studying the world of wine, it was around 2004, there was very little talk of Calabria. Since 2010, however, some producers from the Cirò area have shown that Calabria could also “be serious”, managing in a few years to impose their wine, their designation, as one of the great reds of Southern Italy.
Calabria is a unique region that can change a lot in a few kilometers, from the sea to the hills to the mountains. It has very different vines, always as ancient as perhaps no other region.
I was very fascinated by the structure and solidity of Mantonico, a white wine that is finding more and more space and attention by the producers of the region.
I found Calabria extraordinarily welcoming and made up of beautiful people. Can’t wait to go back to visit other wineries.”
Journalist, Senior Editor of Intravino, Co-founder of Verticale, Italy