Magliocco: Italian Grape Name & Appellation Project

April 30, 2012

Here’s the link for previous entries in the Italian Grape Name & Appellation Pronunciation Project.

When I first launched the Italian Grape Name & Appellation Pronunciation Project I wanted to give a voice to Italian winemakers by creating a public platform where they could “speak” their grapes. The pronunciation of their grape names — their ampelonyms — can often prove challenging for Anglophones.

But as the project expands, I’m including a “layperson” of wine in this entry.

My friend Giovanni Gagliardi is not a winemaker: he’s what I call a “cultural entrepreneur” of Italian wine. A native of Calabria, he curates a website devoted to the wines of Calabria (VinoCalabrese.it) and he travels the country attending and speaking at all sorts of wine festivals (that’s how we met).

But most of all I wanted to include him because he is a simpaticone (see photo taken from his Facebook below).

In this week’s entry, Giovanni speaks “Magliocco,” a grape that we’ve seen very little of in the U.S. but that is making new inroads here.

Where Cirò is known for its Gaglioppo, the winemakers of Cosenza view Magliocco as the greatest indigenous expression of their enologic landscape.

In the U.S., I’ve tasted superb bottlings of Magliocco, including wines by Terra di Balbia (by my good friend Giampaolo Venica) and Librandi. And there are more and more wines making it here.

Magliocco (also called Magliocco Canino, Magliocco Ovale, and Magliuacculu) is a tannic grape with a wonderful roundness to it (when vinified monovarietally), good dark red fruit, and healthy acidity. The Terra di Balbia Magliocco is one of the best selling wines by the glass at Sotto in Los Angeles (where I author the wine list).

Thanks for speaking Italan grapes!


Magliocco, swordfish, and Gossip Girl

February 28, 2011

That’s the inimitable Shawnté Salabert, writer, voiceover artist, and song plugger for Sugaroo (my band NN+’s licensing agent). She’s the one who got our track “Catastrophe” (click to listen to preview) into Gossip Girl tonight. (Hey, I know it’s not Master Piece Theatre but if the teenage female American demographic digs my music, I ain’t complaining!)

“Catastrophe” is one of my favorite tracks: I wrote it in NYC with Céline Dijon back in 2007 (seems like a lifetime ago). Tonight’s episode also features another song I wrote and recorded with Céline in New York many years ago, when we played in another now unmentionable French band together. It’s called “Les Sauvages.”

I got to meet and thank Shawnté in person on Thursday when I went to visit the mother office and have dinner with my old friend and music biz veteran Michael Nieves, who cooked up a delicious swordfish steak, which we paired with a bottle of 2009 Terre di Balbia Balbium (I had tasted it earlier that day at a trade tasting and swiped the bottle from the rep).

This 100% Magliocco from Calabria, raised by Venica & Venica, is one of the most exciting wines from Southern Italy that I’ve tasted this year (and I’ve been tasting a lot of southern Italian wines recently for a new consulting gig).

From what I understand, some (or all?) of the grapes are briefly dried in the vineyard before vinification. I was blown away by the freshness of this wine, its balanced alcohol (a little higher than I like but nicely settled in the wine), and its juicy cherry and plum flavors and bright acidity. Extremely yummy wine, excellent with Michael’s roast swordfish steak dusted with paprika.

Thanks again, Michael and Shwanté: for the placement and the rocking piece of fish!


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